Obituary Tim W Baker-Jones

In the sudden death of Tim Baker-Jones on 17 December 2010 the School has lost a loyal Old Blundellian. Born in Quetta, in what is now Pakistan, to Paul and Margaret Baker-Jones whilst his father was serving as Captain in the Royal Artillery, Tim entered Petergate House at Blundell’s School in 1946. Both his father (also at Blundell’s) and his grandfather had played for Wales and Tim became a talented scrum-half. He also excelled on the stage, most memorably as the dying King in Petergate’s production of Henry IV, pt 1.

In 1951 he entered Merton College Oxford, graduating with a good second in Modern History.

His deferred National Service was in the Royal Navy from 1954, in which he was promoted Temporary Acting Sub-Lieutenant RNVR. Most of his service was in the Far East; and he saw sea service in HMS Opossum, a sister ship of HMS Amethyst of the Yangtze River incident. His Commanding Officer’s final report regarded him as ‘a perfectionist by nature [whose] work is always of the highest quality....sustained by a spirit of duty and by interest.’

With these qualities and as scion of a long line of solicitors in Newport, S. Wales, it is perhaps not surprising that he found his first metier in BP, initially in distribution, and then more satisfyingly in negotiation, whence he took early retirement owing to increasing, and later severe and disabling, deafness. Thereafter he spent many happy and scholarly years as the highly regarded professional archivist to W.H. Smith, whose voluminous and meticulously-ordered archives, a tribute to his keen eye for detail, are now deposited at the University of Reading.

Returning to live in Oxford is his latter years (where his College, the Oxford Society, and his neighbourhood association duly claimed him), his natural austerity enabled him to bear with equanimity all the exigencies of his frequent travels to exotic world-wide destinations. As all his friends knew (and he kept many from his Blundell’s days), his Anglican faith was understated but real. His father having died in the mid-1930’s in Karachi, his mother in due course married the Dean of St. Andrew’s. Their households, first in St Andrew’s and then in Hampshire, were imbued with the regular and unassuming practice of the clerical life.

One contemporary has rightly said that he was a noble soul, and that he represented the very best of traditional values. All have said that he was truly a Christian gentleman. While sparing in his own life, he was unostentatiously hospitable, generous, kind and considerate in all his dealings with others. He would quote, with a glint of amused approval, Talleyrand’s ‘Not too much zeal’—very detached, very underplayed, cool and rational, and a necessary admonition of our own too febrile times.

Robin Price, W 1946-51