Biography

The life and times of Ron Hitchins

Ron Hitchins was born in Poplar on 20 April 1926 and passed away peacefully in Hackney on 19 November 2019 at the age of 93.

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Ron was the quintessential Londoner, born and brought up in Pennyfields, the original Limehouse Chinatown, to a Chinese father and a Lithuanian mother.

He was a Bevin Boy during the War, working down the coal mines in Nottinghamshire. He always loved Jazz, and used to spend his leave in London, jiving at the Feldman Club, later the 100 Club. He later did an apprenticeship in Toolmaking, which came in useful when he became a sculptor, as he had all the skills. He started off by making the shirts to sell in Petticoat Lane, then he had them made up in the best fabrics, such as Sea Island Cotton, and he would personally embroider the monograms on the pockets.

Ron just wanted to earn enough money to enable him to go out and dance in the evenings. He refused offers to go into business, to expand and make more money. He was also keen to keep the prices down, to make his shirts affordable.

Ron found flamenco when he saw Antonio perform, and from then on, that was the focus of his life. In August 1957 he jived non stop for 24 hours and five minutes, when someone bet him that he couldn’t dance for 24 hours. (The extra five minutes or so were just added on for the heck of it).

He took up sculpting, and gave up the shirts when he found he could scrape a living selling his tiles and sculptures. He was known as the Naked Sculptor, as he disliked the heat of casting his pieces (and wanted the freedom, no doubt). He worked to the sound of his favourite Bebop Jazz, or Sarah Vaughn.

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