Christopher Buckmaster, who was councillor for the Campden ward from 1994 to 2014 and RBKC mayor twice, very sadly died from Covid-19 at Chelsea & Westminster Hospital on 2 November. While in hospital, he turned 82.
Born in Liverpool on 29 October 1938, Christopher Meredith Buckmaster read Politics, Philosophy and Economics at Oxford, where he was chairman of the University Conservative Association. He later went into business and travelled widely. He has lived and worked in the Caribbean, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Africa.
For three years he was a member of the London Regional Board of the Confederation of British Industry. He always took an interest in voluntary organisations, having served on the management committees of a number of them, including Open Age. He was also chairman of Kensington and Chelsea People First, an organisation seeking to develop self-advocacy amongst adults with learning difficulties.
Christoper was elected to the RBKC council in May 1994 as representative of the Campden ward, where he also lived. At various times he served on the council’s social services, housing, education and health committees, as well as being director of the Tenant Management Organisation. He was cabinet member for Education, Libraries and Arts 2001-2003 and was for ten years a governor of Holland Park School. He was also one the few councillors who has served twice as RBKC mayor, in 2003-2004 and in 2012-2013.
Christopher was very involved in the local residents’ long but in the end unsuccessful fight 2001-2007 to retain Vicarage House in Vicarage Gate as a nursing home, after the owners had sold it to a private developer. The new owners eventually won on appeal in the High Court, against the will of both the council and the Planning Inspectorate.
Shortly before the local elections in May 2014, Chrisopher announced that he would retire as councillor and not seek reelection. His seat was taken over by Catherine Faulks.
Some time after his retirement, Christopher sold his unusual fort-like black house at the corner of Kensington Place and Hillgate Street (opposite Fox School) and moved south of the river with his partner Anne Hobson (who served as his mayoress 2012-2013) to then the brand new luxury retirement complex Battersea Place, where they chose to live in different flats close to each other.
In 2018, Retiremove, a website about retirement homes, had an article about the two and their collections: Anne’s collection of antique dollshouses and toys, and Christopher’s large collection of Napoleonic china. Originally made in honour of Napoleon, the pieces were seized by one of Christopher’s ancestors after the Battle of Waterloo and subsequently handed down through the generations until Christopher inherited them.
Beside Anne, Christopher leaves three stepdaughters and four grandchildren. Due to the lockdown, the funeral was to be held in private, but there are plans for a larger celebration of his life at a later stage.
One of Christopher’s passions was his large collection of Napoleonic china, which one of his ancestors brought home after the Battle of Waterloo. Picture courtesy of Retiremove and Life Care Residencies.