Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers
South Wales & West Branch

John Gregson Slater MICS

22.3.1932 - 17.3.2019

John Gregson Slater

Son of the late Wing Commander E.A. Slater O.B.E and Mrs M E Slater (Babs). Centre is John Slater to his left is the late George Phillips FICS and to John's right Alan Humphries FICS.

Alan Humphries, reflects on the life of John...

I first became acquainted with John in 1960 when I was a trainee shipbroker in Exmouth, we lost touch for a number of years  but started to meet again principally at local branch meetings of the ICS.  Over the last fifteen or more years this built into a close friendship, we used to meet regularly for pasty evenings, when we talk about the “old times”, his face would shine, clearly shipping was his  first true love. Whether working in the shipping industry or any of his other career paths John was always a keen supporter of the ICS, right up to the time when he had to give up driving he, at the very least attending the Branch AGM.

John was not a native of Devon, being the son of a serving Royal Air Force (RAF) Officer the family lived in many locations in the England and Wales until they eventually settled in Devon. John finally making his home in Starcross.

John was always industrious, as a lad working amongst other things as an ice-cream maker with Forte’s of Teignmouth.  When he left school John followed his father into the Royal Air Force, however, it was a life that did not suit him.  On returning to Devon he took up a position at Teignmouth Docks as shipping clerk with Renwick Wharves Ltd part of the Renwick Wilton and Dobson Group of Companies.

John’s shipping career was centred on the coal trades from the NE of England to the Ports of Teignmouth, Exmouth, Torquay and Kingswear, supplying local gasworks, power stations and the domestic market.  John showed an early aptitude to the business and became involved in the port agency side of the business as well as the physical  operations of discharging  and the logistics of distributing cargoes.  His total commitment to the business was demonstrated when he learned to drive and rig a crane to gain the maximum output and also obtained an HGV driving licence.

Encouraged to study and sit for the Institute of Chartered Shipbrokers (ICS) examinations he was elected to Membership  (then known as Associate membership) in January 1956.

While working in the ports John also became very interested in cinema projection and became one of the projectionists at the Riviera Cinema in Teignmouth.  This interest became a life long passion, culminating in his participation in the formation of a Museum of Cinema Projection that was based in part of the Curzon Cinema, Clevedon. This project was undertaken by John and other enthusiasts and although the museum is no longer in existence many of the exhibits are on display in the cinema. Furthermore, based on his experience and knowledge gained as a projectionist, John lectured to local branches of the U3A on the history of cinema projection.

This experience as a projectionist assisted him in his enforced career change. Following the demise of  the coal trade and the closure of the  coal wharves in the late 1960’s, John transferred to Renwicks Travel where he stayed for a number years before moving to another travel agency. While working as a travel agent John travelled the South West showing promotional holiday films, with great effect, to audience such as branches of local Womens Institute and similar audiences.

During his time as a travel agent John chartered trains running from Newton Abbot via Exeter St. Davids to Paddington.  These charters proved very popular as they were inexpensive and gave people the opportunity to spend a day in London sight seeing, visiting family and friends or, perhaps, see a show as they left early in the morning and arrived back either late on Saturday evening or Sunday morning. Eventually, John left the travel industry becoming a local postman, until his health deteriorated and he was unable to cycle 14 miles a day on his country round, necessitating early retirement. 

John’s life was a full one, in addition to his “day jobs” he  at times drove an ambulance, was a taxi driver and in addition to cinema projection his hobbies included photography and his garden.

His photography was largely attached to his interest in transport, lorries, buses and the like.  This brought him a touch of late fame through the pages of “Vintage Roadscene”, the May, June, July and August 2017 issues contained lengthy articles based around interviews with him and his photographs.

Always interested in the world around him, at the age of 84 John phoned me one-day to ask if I would take him to the Apple Store to buy an iPad.

I am proud to have had him as a friend and will miss him and all the knowledge and memories he had to offer.

John did not marry, he leaves a sister Anne, nephew Timothy, his wife Sandra their daughter Eleanor and son Alistair.

(Alan D.W Humphries FICS May 2019.)