Neville Price: 1909-2002
For the last 30 years, Neville Price and his wife Jean have played a prominent part in the affairs of the Historical Society. For many years Neville edited and produced its Journal, served as the Society treasurer and subsequently a vice-president, attending committee meetings until about two years ago. He died peacefully at home early on Christmas Eve at the age of 92.
Neville grew up in Jamaica where his father was President of the Baptist Theological College at Kingston. Coming to Cambridge, he first read archaeology and anthropology at St. John’s but later switched to Spanish and French. He went back to the West Indies to teach at his old school and for the rest of his career specialised in mathematics and religious knowledge. He came back to Britain just before the last war to take a teaching diploma and then was at Chatham House, Ramsgate, until 1952 apart from the war years. Neville volunteered for the RAF and became a Codes and Ciphers officer, learning to type (to the eventual benefit of the Historical Society). He met Jean at his father’s church in Birmingham and they married during the war. The last part of Neville’s teaching career was spent at Wanstead County High School. He retired at 60 in 1969 and Jean designed a bungalow at Saffron Walden for their new home.
Joining the then Saffron Walden Antiquarian Society, Neville and Jean helped with the project to record the gravestones in St Mary’s churchyard, and then undertook to read all the remaining gravestones in the town at the United Reformed Church, the Friends’ Meeting House, the Baptist Church, the former Strict Baptist Church in London Road and the Hill Street Unitarian Church (now Goddards Interiors). They made a record of all the memorials and gravestones inside St Mary’s and listed dates and other inscriptions on buildings in the town. This last project had been started by Ken Lovatt and the final list was published in the last edition of the Journal. After hearing a talk on industrial archaeology, Neville made records of station furniture at Audley End, the tunnel towards Cambridge, the Mill by Audley End Station (where he was working as secretary) and large metal grave-markers noticed at Arkesden. He and Jean also recorded other survivals like the First World War arrows in West Road and George Street, intended to direct people from the coast who might need to be evacuated in the event of an enemy invasion.
Neville and Jean were keen on visiting foreign countries and on several occasions, following their travels, Neville gave the Society illustrated talks on the archaeology of Greece, Crete, Turkey and Tunisia.
In the spring of 1972, the Society started publishing Saffron Walden History with John O’Leary as editor and production by Miss Musto of the Teachers’ Training College, who was then the Society’s secretary and treasurer. When the College closed and Miss Musto left the town, Neville was elected in 1974 (until 1985) as treasurer and took over typing the articles and producing copies of the Journal on the Baptist Church duplicator. In 1981 he added the editorship to his list of responsibilities, and also commissioned the front covers and continued compiling the index. In later years Neville was helped by Richard Jemmett with the production of the Journal. Cliff Stacey was the main source of articles until his health began to decline and it was this that decided Neville to make the autumn issue of 1991 his last, having produced 20 issues.
Ten years on and the Saffron Walden Historical Journal has been revived to Neville’s great joy and a tribute to his many years of publication which had been much missed. Michael Swindlehurst