Tributes paid to archivist, historian and community volunteer Brian Payne JP, who was well-known in Wisbech and Fenland
PUBLISHED: 12:33 10 April 2017
Brian Payne JP, an archivist, historian and community volunteer who was well-known in Wisbech and Fenland, died on April 6 at North Cambridgeshire Hospital, where he was born 78 years before.
Born into a prominent local political family, he was the only child of Maurice, who was later chairman of the Cambridgeshire and Isle of Ely Council, and his wife Gertrude.
He was raised in a non-conformist home in Guyhirn and then Wisbech, attending Wisbech Grammar School until 1955.
At the age of 16 he became the organist at Guyhirn Church, beginning an association with the established church that was to continue for the rest of his life.
He came under the influence of the Rev. Bill Woodhouse at Wisbech St Mary and was baptised into the Church of England in 1958.
After marrying Ann Rawlinson, a local primary school teacher, in 1961, also at Wisbech St. Mary, he took a grocery store in Brandon, Suffolk.
In 1968, along with their baby son, they moved to Cambridge. Two years later Brian became a Justice of the Peace on the Cambridge bench.
Most infamously he remanded for trial, Peter Samuel Cook, the Cambridge Rapist in 1975. At his retirement from the bench in 2009 he was the longest serving JP in the county.
Throughout his time in Cambridge Brian maintained his links with Fenland, particularly when he became county commissioner of the scouts in 1986.
It was as county commissioner that in 1991 he organised the first visit to the UK of children from the region most severely affected by Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Such was its success that it a second visit to Cambridgeshire was arranged in 1992.
It was at this time that Brian and his wife returned to the Wisbech area where they enjoyed an active retirement. Brian soon became a governor at Guyhirn Primary School, where he had been head boy.
He was also a trustee of the Wisbech & Fenland Museum and of the Wisbech Society and Preservation Trust. In 2006-7 he was involved in organising the local and national commemoration of the abolition of the slave trade, focussing on gaining full recognition for the contribution of Thomas Clarkson.
He was also a founder of the Fenland Family History Society, the author of three books on Fenland history and of a guide to the architecture and history of Wisbech St Mary parish church. He was the custodian of the Margaret George collection of photographs and guardian of the Chapel of Ease in Guyhirn .
Until his final illness he remained active in the parish of Wisbech St Mary as a licensed reader, parish councillor, editor of the monthly parish newsletter and occasional organist.
His wife of fifty-five years pre-deceased him by only two weeks and, too ill to attend her funeral, he passed away the same day.
He is survived by his son Nicholas and one grandchild.
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