Stanley Gardner (1911 – 1991) was London Transport’s first ever heritage guide, known among colleagues as the Memory Man.
About a month ago I received through the post a large cardboard box containing hundreds of slides of pictures featuring historic London scenes, mostly taken in the 1960s. They were sent to us for safekeeping by the son of Stan Gardner who at that time gave public talks about London’s history. I pressed Stan’s son Graham for more information and just a few days later arrived an altogether smaller wooden box. Written on the lid: “STANS [sic] STUFF.”
Inside Stan’s little box was a magazine: the London Transport Magazine of August 1954. It features Stan on the cover talking over the PA to coach passengers. On page 12 is an article which tells us that by then London Transport had nine trained “inspector-guides”. Stan observes that “the coach is often a regular family of nations with a dozen different races aboard”. But there are Londoners too. “Two of our regulars are London charwomen, who take each trip in turn on their days off.”
In addition to the magazine were a number of personal effects: London Transport badges, cloth and enamel; two enamel tour guide badges from the British Travel Association and the London Tourist Board; Stan’s PSV Driver badge; a button badge with the legend It Feels Good In London (and who can argue with that?). Best of all, I think, is Stan’s Record of Service Card. It shows that he was once a rifleman, army number 1773798. He served in the Royal Artillery from February 1941 to November 1944, and from then until May 1946 with the King’s Royal Rifle Corps.
We have many guides among the London Historians membership. It is therefore a humbling privilege to have in our possession these personal items of an illustrious predecessor. We shall take great care of them and as soon as we’ve had a chance to go through the slides, we’ll report further. My thanks to Graham Gardner for trusting us with the care of his father’s effects.