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Sutton's Mr History throws in the trowel 25.01.11

Sutton Council's very own Mr History is stepping down after over 36 years working for the borough.

John Phillips on a dig in Oaks park

John Philips first joined as a trainee librarian in Sutton Central Library in 1974.

After working in different roles within the library service, the council made the most of his lifelong interest in history and archaeology and appointed him Heritage Manager in 1993. He was put in charge of Special Heritage Projects in 2002, a post he held until he retired on 20 January.

Mr Phillips is known to many Sutton staff, students and members of the local community because of the archaeological dig that he runs every summer, often in the grounds of Carew Manor. The medieval manor house, Sutton's only Grade I listed building, has been a particular interest of Mr Philip's throughout his career.

He will still be passing on his local knowledge in his retirement, as he plans to give talks on Sutton's past and will be showing visitors around local Edwardian villa Russettings as part of the London-wide 'Open House' event.

Cllr Graham Tope, Executive Member for Community Safety, Leisure and Libraries, said: "During his time working in the London Borough of Sutton, John has done great things to help open up Sutton's rich heritage to the wider community. Anyone who has worked with John or been to one of the many events he's organised will know how infectious his enthusiasm and knowledge can be.

"I'd like to thank John for his years working to make our community history more accessible to us all. He will be missed, but I'm glad to hear that he will carry on engaging the community through his voluntary work."

Mr Philips found himself in the spotlight last summer when council workers cleaning up at Sutton Green discovered a forgotten air raid shelter from the Second World War.

He was interviewed by TV and radio following an appeal for information from any residents who may remember when the shelters were open.

To find out more about heritage in Sutton, visit

For more information about historical walks and talks organised by the Museum & Heritage Service go to or call 020 8770 4781; or for the Open House events visit

Last updated: Monday, 14 February 2011

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