May 30, 2023

Readers mail….
From Bob Owen….

Hi Chris,

In reference to the sad news item about my good friend Richard Chamberlain, (last issue) of Cyprus Scene e-newspaper, and having known ‘Dick’ for over 50 years, I would like to recount my years as Dick’s friend.

Dick was originally in the printing industry, and I was from a graphic design background and we both found ourselves working for a company called Conways, near Marble Arch, in the late 1960s on the night shift where we created artistic headlines for advertising companies. Dick as he was known, was involved in the photographic side of things; I was on quality control. We also lived in the same town in Essex and shared car journeys.

On one of those journeys, I mentioned I was getting married to Lynn, and Dick mentioned he did wedding photography as a side-line. So, in June 1970, Dick was our official wedding photographer and has used some of the prints in his exhibitions. I soon learnt that Dick was a bit of an entrepreneur.

He left Conways and launched a rival outfit in Clerkenwell, call Focus, which became a very successful business, I joined him managing the quality control again in about 1973. Dick then decided he wanted to do something else, so managed to sell his shares and looked around for the next challenge.

I guess the pay-out from Focus sale was burning a hole, as he ended up buying a plot of land in Brentwood, Essex which came complete with some portable buildings including a garage. Dick decided he wanted to invest in some vintage cars, so he sourced a vintage Rolls Royce in Exchange & Mart, when he went to collect the Rolls, the seller asked him if he wanted to fulfil some wedding bookings and so the next venture was born.

Not long after that the prefabricated building became Brentwood’s first Gym, ‘Pumping Iron’, named after Arnie’s film of the same name. I used to go to the gym and remember seeing the attached garage full of vintage wedding cars. I believe he sold the plot a few years later for a nice profit to Laura Ashley, and the cars also, always the entrepreneur!

Now we fast forward 37 years or so. In 1977 Dick and I had gone our separate ways so to speak. Lynn and I bought a property in Esentepe in 2006, in which we had some wonderful holidays over the next 15 years. On holiday in 2014, I saw an advert for a photographic exhibition by a ‘Richard Chamberlain’, Lynn and I looked at one another and said, ‘it can’t be’. So, two days later we ended up at the Round Tower, there was no Richard Chamberlain present. Just as we were leaving a grey-haired gentleman passed us on the staircase. I called out ‘Dick Chamberlain’ and he instantly spun round, looked at me and said, ‘who are you’? Once the penny had dropped it was hugs and celebrations all round. We’ve kept in close contact ever since, it was a privilege to be on the top table at Dick’s wedding to his wife Weng, who has unfailingly looked after him during his episodes of ill health.  

He really was a larger-than-life character; the signed copy we have of his original book takes on more poignancy now and I am very sad to have lost a lifetime friend.

Bob Owen

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