Heritage founder and Coleridge promoter dies

A founder member of the Ottery Heritage Society who campaigned to get more recognition for Coleridge in the town has died, aged 79.

John Eborn moved with his family to Ottery in 1980, and established the Coleridge Bookshop with his wife Grace.

They also ran the Print & Copy Shop in Broad Street, and it was from here he edited and published the popular local magazine, Outlook.

But Robert Neal, the current chairman of the heritage society, said John would also be remembered as ‘an entertainer’.

Mr Neal said: “He was well known for his basso profundo voice, and organised many musical shows and concerts for local charities over the years.”

Born in Chiswick in November 1932, John Eborn was evacuated to Hebden Bridge during the Second World War.

He met his wife Grace, a nurse, while living in St Albans, but both left their jobs to run a chain of newsagents in the south of England

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A keen musician, John took a year out to concentrate on singing, training at Morley College in London.

The family then moved to Ottery St Mary to open their bookshop, as Robert Neal explained: “John was surprised, as were many newcomers to the area, that the poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge did not receive the recognition he deserved within the town of his birth.”

He said John began campaigning to raise the profile and public awareness of Ottery’s famous son, as well as exploring local history and promoting Ottery traditions such as Pixie Day.

John helped to launch the Ottery St Mary Heritage Society, and wanted to create a permanent museum in the town.

His interest in promoting the arts led to reviewing productions for local newspapers, involvement in plays at the Manor Pavilion in Sidmouth, and himself sang in the Sidmouth Operatic Society.

John and Grace have four children and eight grandchildren, and retired to Dunkerswell in 2002.

He died on February 27, and his wife has asked for any donations in his memory to be made to the Heritage Society’s Museum Fund, something he deeply cared about.