York Press photographer Fred Spencer dies aged 97

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A regional daily photographer who captured a historic moment in English cricket history has died aged 97.

Tributes have been paid to Fred Spencer, who was chief photographer at the Yorkshire Evening Press, now the York daily The Press, from the late 1950s through to the 1970s.

Among his most famous assignments was capturing cricketer Geoffrey Boycott’s 100th first class hundred in a Test match for Englan against Australia at Headingley Stadium, in Leeds, on 11 August 1977.

Other famous subjects included Morecambe and Wise, Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby, while he also photographed the wedding of Katharine Worsley to the Duke of Kent from a perch high up beneath the ceiling at York Minster in June 1961.

According to The Press, Kodak gave him some early colour film especially for the occasion and the resulting photographs were exhibited in London and even sent to the Queen.

Among the young photographers he trained were Keith Massey, who went on to be a renowned TV cameraman, legendary Press Association photographer John Giles, and Martin Oates, who became picture editor at The Press for many years.

Bradford-born Fred began his photography career freelancing for the city’s daily Telegraph & Argus newspaper, having served as RAF ground crew during the Second World War.

He was later given a staff job at the T&A, but relocated to York with his wife Betty after landing the chief photographer job there.

After retirement, he continued to freelance and also worked as the York Racecourse official photographer.

Fred’s daughter Julie told The Press: “He was a livewire – the most vital human being I ever knew. He was never doing nothing.”

Fred, who died on 28 December, had lived in retirement homes in York and Wetherby since Betty passed away two years ago. He is survived by son David, daughter Julie, two grandchildren and one great-grandson.

Fred’s funeral will be at St Mary’s, Askham Richard, at 2pm on Wednesday 25 January.





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