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Jack Kilminster, fruit and veg seller in Queen’s Crescent market

He started setting up stalls aged 11 and never looked back

21 November, 2019 — By Tom Foot

JACK Kilminster’s started setting up stalls in Queen’s Crescent market aged 11 – and never looked back.

He ran his own fruit and veg pitch, first at the junction of Allcroft Road and later at Bassett Street corner, until he retired three years ago.

Jack, who died aged 72 last week, is remembered as an “all round fruit and veg lover” with a die-hard work ethic who devoted his life to his family.

Daughter Angela said: “Back then when the market was busy he would help pull out the barrows and set up the stall. He was just 11 but that’s how he got his pocket money then. That’s where he stayed. That was his life. That was the only job he had and wanted.”

Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, he was brought to Camden as a toddler and grew up in the family home in Wellesley Road and later Malden Road, going to Carlton and Haverstock schools.

The second oldest of a family of eight, he lived in Castle Road for the last 40 years of his life. In 1971, he met his wife Ellen, who worked at Rhyl Primary School, and the couple married in 1978.

Angela, a primary school teacher, recalled how as a child she would be woken up at 3am to help with trips to Spitalfields. She would also work on the stall with her brother, Lee, who described his father as “the toughest man he’d ever known who always look after others”.

Mr Kilminster did not run his stall “Camden Market style”, Angela said. “There was no hollering. He had amazing relationships with the customers. He had time to stop them, chat with them. Many regulars thought the world of him. He was always there on his stall reading the paper, his Camden New Journal.”

She added: “He would talk to my children about all the fruits. My Lucy would tell him there were just red and green apples – and he’d put his head in his hands in despair, then name all the different apples for her. He was an all round fruit and veg lover.”

Outside of his work, Angela said her father’s life was “pretty much work, dinner and bed” but he liked a Guinness and a Bell’s down the Dreghorn Castle, before it was turned into flats, or the Sir Robert Peel.

She recalled happy summer holidays to Cyprus and Belfast, add­ing: “We couldn’t ask for better parents. We weren’t spoilt but we never went without. We were made to value life, and work hard for what you are going to get. He showed us the right road. We continue that onto our children. I am a primary school teacher and Lee is a black cab taxi driver. Dad couldn’t have been prouder.”

A funeral date has not been set but a large turnout is expected to line the Crescent with the hearse pausing at the junction of Bassett Street for people to pay their respects.

Mr Kilminster is survived by Angela and Lee; and Sophie 14, Lucy 10, Lea 4, Blake three weeks.

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