Len Pradier, radio ham who ran repair workshop in York Rise
Electronics expert's call sign was G3MAO
20 February, 2018 — By Dan Carrier
LEN Pradier, who has died aged 87, had many talents.
An electronics expert, he built radio equipment which he would use to tap out Morse code to other radio hams, and would spend many happy hours talking and listening to people from all around the world.
A keen gardener, his radio shop in Dartmouth Park, which ran in the 1960s and 1970s, doubled up as a nursery where he would also grow and sell plants. Len was born in Thurlow Terrace, Kentish Town in 1931 and, after being evacuated to Wiltshire during the war, later moved to Churchill Road, Dartmouth Park.
He spent his childhood on Hampstead Heath, flying homemade kites. Later in life, some of those he built were sold at the Kite Shop in Neal Street, Covent Garden. After national service, which saw him posted to Hong Kong with the army, he set up his radio and TV repair workshop and rental service in York Rise, near his family home.
As a radio ham – his call sign was G3MAO – he was fascinated by tuning into voices across the globe and would regularly hear the King of Jordan talking over the airwaves. Len married his girlfriend, Teresa Gorman, in 1968 but after they parted in 1973 he bought a fisherman’s cottage in Sligo, Ireland.
His mother, Winnie, had sold their home in Churchill Road and also moved to Ireland, to run a guesthouse. However the business did not thrive – it was at the height of the Troubles – and they both moved back to London. Later, when Winnie fell ill, they moved to Hampshire, where she was originally from. They lived in a community of people who had council bungalows and Len earned a living gardening for neighbours and putting his skills to use doing carpentry, maintenance and odd jobs for people.
As well as electronics, Len was passionate about chess. A skilled player, he would go to the Chess Cafe in South End Green and could also be found in the Dartmouth Arms pub, playing his friend Ted for hours. Known for his sense of humour – it was even mentioned on his demob papers that it was “overpowering” – he faced troubles with a smile.
In 2009, Len had his left foot amputated due to complications from diabetes and moved to a flat in Fleet, Hampshire. He had a stock of one-legged jokes at the ready and would rev up his mobility scooter to show how fast he could get about.
In 2011, he married Eileen Willmott, who had grown up next door to him in Dartmouth Park. The pair had many happy times together, and Eileen cared deeply for him.
A service was held for Len at St Mary’s Brookfield church in January where many friends and relatives recalled his smile, warmth, humour and kindness.