WRITE IN Unveiling a grave
Back in December 2010, you were good enough to send me a copy of the Deceased Online burial record of my great grandfather Harry Duncan, Holloway boxer and English champion. Since then I have put that information to good use. A couple of years back I went down to the St Pancras and Islington Cemetery, East Finchley, London, hoping to find Harry’s grave.
The cemetery office staff showed me a hefty old record book listing burials, and confirmed the date Henry Duncan was buried there in 1934. I was given a cemetery map with the location as plot 6 ‘O’. The staff mentioned that this was on a paupers’ site and I would probably not find anything, which shocked me a bit as I was hoping to find a grand headstone. So, map in hand, off I went. Unfortunately I did not bank on the vastness of the cemetery and even with my fairly good mapreading skills it still took a while to locate the plot, with all the snaking roads and pathways. I arrived at a very overgrown wooded area with no obvious graves to be seen apart from a few broken markers, which were well worn. ‘Now what?’ I thought.
Luckily the staff were able to find a plot plan of that site, which was individually marked with appropriate grave numbers, Harry is number 17348. This was a great help, so I was now able to orientate the map and find his burial site, which did have some headstones. Success, I found my great grandfather! I was standing and pondering over his grave, wondering how this great sportsman ended up in a paupers’ site with no headstone and no acknowledgement of his achievements, whichch I thoughtthought waswas all very sad. So when I got home I put the wheels in motion and ordered a stone plaque from my local stonemason. A few months later, the plaque was finished. This was laid at Harry’s grave and what a lovely job they made of it, a fitting tribute to my great grandfather.
Since then, I have created a website dedicated to Harry Duncan, English welter/middleweight champion, full of facts, photographs and fight records at nigelharding.wix.com/harryduncanboxer – please do take a look, see what you think. Nigel Harding, by email Editor replies: What an amazing way to remember your great grandfather Nigel! Not only is your dedication to locating his final resting place commendable, but to actually have a plaque carved for him is really going above and beyond. You’ve set the bar high for the rest of us now!
Nigel Harding’s champion boxing
forebear Harry Duncan; Inset: Harry’s
new stone plaque