Jim Barnard

Jim Barnard, editor of the Chelsea News and Westminster and Pimlico News for more than 30 years, has died, aged 91.

Proud to be a Chelsean (his preferred term) he was happiest when chronicling the events of his beloved urban village.

Jim was brought up in the World's End district of Chelsea. His respect for the basic humanity of ordinary people can be traced back to his childhood, in a community whose inhabitants struggled to make ends meet.

He won a scholarship to Sloane Grammar School, but his family could not afford to let him stay, and he left to find work at 14.

After a series of jobs, he found his vocation when he joined the West London Press as a junior reporter in 1934.

His talents were recognised by being given difficult assignments. These included Mosley's Fascists, who were targeting Chelsea for their sinister activities. Reporting the thuggish political movement helped establish his reputation for integrity and courage.

Part of his war was spent on "foreign service" in Armagh in Northern Ireland — army logic always amused him. While there, in 1943, he met a young civil defence worker called Margaret Jameson. Within days, he had proposed and they were married in Armagh Cathedral two years later. They celebrated 60 years of marriage in 2005.

After the war, Jim returned to the West London Press, which later became the Chelsea News. He became the editor in 1949.

He set high standards, and thanks to him, many future Fleet Street journalists learned key professional skills.

He oversaw the relaunch of the paper as well as its change from broadsheet to tabloid. During the late '60s, his superior news coverage and the loyalty and trust of his readers saw off the threat from a new rival, the Chelsea Post.

After he retired in 1980, Jim helped run the Westminster Talking Newspaper for more than 10 years.

Jim was unduly modest about his gifts. However, it was pride rather than modesty which made him describe himself not as an editor or even a journalist, but as a reporter. He is survived by Margaret and his son, Brian.

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