The following was
penned for Fred's funeral by Harry Cane, his brother in law.
'Fred Steer was
the first born into a large family. His DAD was a Master builder, who taught his
son the business from A to Z. Fred was a good pupil, The Great Metropolis, and
the Provinces, are littered with Garages, Bungalows, Houses, Flats, Shops,
Offices, and Factories that he supervised in what he called his tour of duty.
Hundreds of families are delighted with the additions he made to their homes. He
was acknowledged by Council Building Inspectors, as a superb workman.
Fred was a
bachelor, he was loved by his Nephews and Nieces, they knew him well.
children, took their broken books, toys and bicycles, to him, he repaired them
all in his own fashion, there were times when he had to mend their broken hearts
as well, and this he did well.
For years he
took toddlers, in and around London, on the busses, his young friends were no
strangers to, The Thames, Greenwich Pier, and The Cutty-Sark.
In the early
post-war years, he built six-inch televisions, from surplus Army and Navy gear,
he was an expert, with microphones, and loud-speakers. At Christmas, he filled
the home with, music, colour, glittering lights, and party games, some forty
years ago, he introduced Sammy-Snowman into the Christmas scene, to tell the
children stories from the North-Pole. Fred was devoted to his, Mum and Dad, he
lived alone in the old home, for the last twenty years, visited regularly by his
Sammy-Snowman, will be remembered always. Fred will be sadly missed.'
Fred appears to
have served in the Home Guard during the second World War.
A number of
recollections testify to the generous and caring nature of Uncle Fred and his
eccentricities. His legacy has inspired his nephews in their lifetimes,
particularly Bruce who was his godson and inherited some of Uncle Fred's traits. Fred heated his
home by paraffin and the greasy black decor of the outside toilet, more like an interior of a old stove than a convenience, was due to a smoking wick one winter. His
car, a pale blue Hillman Minx was known as Lixey after the number plate LXY.
When he retired Fred vowed never to drive again and Lixey went to the graveyard.
When Bruce was extending his house in Peopleton in Worcestershire in the 1970s
Fred stayed and assisted. He cleaned the windows with a paint scraper and the
fine scratches on the glass are an amusing record of his welcomed help. His
televisions were legendary, with their six inch circular green radar screens.
Built into old gramophone cabinets they had an awe inspiring complexity that
defied all but Fred. The unusual roof aerials matched the unusualness of the
televisions. Before televisions, Fred built radios and was one of the pioneers
of in-home radios in the 1920s. His first set survives at Tower House complete
with his initials fretted into the loud speaker grill. His bed, an unusual 4
foot width, also survived at Tower House for many years, having beforehand belonged to his
sister Kath. Before switching to cars, Fred enjoyed motorcycling and his
ultimate machine was an Aerial Square Four. This monster bike was top of the
range in its time and for many years it languished in his shed at number 10.
Much to Bruce's chagrin it was given away just as Bruce was coming of the age
when fast motor bikes were definitely on the wish list.
Another of Fred's
interests was billiards and his massive billiard table not only provided hours
of games amusement but also provided a table at Xmas large enough for the extended family to sit around to eat, open presents, enjoy vintage film shows
and to let off the most obnoxious and probably very dangerous indoor fireworks.
One year the exploding bomb of presents was a popular innovation and thereafter
more powerful exploding bombs became a preoccupation. The billiard table
survives at Lionel's at Trefrew Hall.
Fred died at home
in November 1987 and was cremated. His inscribed slab now resides at Tower House
having been recovered from Mitcham Road Cemetery.
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