Southwark local historian and columnist Stephen Humphrey has died.
The author of eight books on the history of the borough worked for more than 30 years at Southwark’s Local History Library in Angel Place, Borough, until retiring in 2010.
He had been due to speak at a Thanksgiving in Rotherhithe event last week and when he did not make it, concerned friends investigated. He was found at his home yesterday afternoon.
Humphrey, who worked for the council from January 1978-June 2010, was born and raised in the Elephant & Castle – his grandmother lived in nearby New Kent Road.
His book on Elephant & Castle, published after more than 25 years of research, proved definitively that its name is not, as often claimed, a corruption of “Infanta de Castilla”.
He was given the freedom of the borough, along with double Oscar-winning actor Sir Michael Caine, in 2012.
Another local historian John Beasley said of Humphrey: “He knew more about the history of Southwark than anyone in the universe.
“It was a great loss to the borough when he retired in 2010 – too early in my view.”
Humphrey became president of the Rotherhithe & Bermondsey Local History Society in 2009. Vice-president Michael Daniels said: “We are all shocked and saddened to hear of Stephen’s passing. Stephen’s knowledge of Southwark’s history was unparalleled, indeed when introducing him I often used to say that what Stephen didn’t know about our local history simply wasn’t worth knowing. Above all he was a true gentleman. Our thoughts are with his family and I know that he will be very much missed by all who knew him.”
Cllr Peter John, Leader of Southwark Council, said: “Stephen was an esteemed, prolific and influential local historian who was very much respected and loved by his colleagues and the local communities he worked with. It was an honour to award his service to the council with the Freedom of the Borough in 2012 and I know he will be very much missed.”
Further tributes in tomorrow’s South London Press.