Blind Fred

Iam re-reading my old copy of Curious London by cabbie Hugh Pearman, retailing in 1951 at the very reasonable price of 2/6d (12½p) and reminded of the days when I would kick my heels in St. John Churchyard while waiting for my cab to be fixed in a nearby garage.

Written in braille a memorial tablet is affixed to the church’s railings. It is in memory of ‘Blind Fred’, apparently a cheery match seller who for many years had his pitch on this spot.

⠠⠕⠝⠑ ⠞⠓⠊⠝⠛ ⠠⠊ ⠅⠝⠕⠺⠂ ⠞⠓⠁⠞⠂ ⠺⠓⠑⠗⠑⠁⠎ ⠠⠊ ⠺⠁⠎ ⠃⠇⠊⠝⠙⠂ ⠝⠕⠺ ⠠⠊ ⠎⠑⠑. ⠠⠚⠕⠓⠝ ⠊:⠃⠑

The above braille reads: “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see. John 9:25.”.

As Hackney churchyards had been closed for burials since the second half of the 19th century, Fred was buried in Bow (Tower Hamlets) Cemetery.

More about Fred including his picture selling matches can be found on the Love East site.

In the graveyard of St. John, buried in the vault of the household she served is Elizabeth Brown, a domestic servant who, so the inscription on the tomb informs us, worked for the Jubbs, a local family, for 89 years, surely a world record for long service.

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