James (Jim) Domenic George Hammer CB (1929-2020)
Jim Hammer, was the last in a line of Hammers living at Allison Grove since 1927: born in 1929 at number 16, he died in June 2020 at number 10, just 3 doors away. He spent a very happy childhood in Dulwich despite being at school during the war and being evacuated. He recalled some of his wartime memories in the Spring issue of the Journal with an article on VE Day. A letter he wrote to his parents from evacuation at Heathfield in Sussex when he was aged eleven was exhibited at the Imperial War Museum's Evacuees Exhibition in 1995. Other letters home were full of advice; on how to make marmalade, how to identify enemy airplanes and how to recognise fifth columnists!
His wartime recollections also included the boys of the Joyce family who lived in Allison Grove, (William Joyce went on to be known as Lord Haw Haw and was executed for treason) “marchiing up and down the road in their black shirts.” His mother apparently used to say, “Poor Mrs Joyce, such a lovely woman, but such awful children!”. After return from evacuation he attended Dulwich College and recalled that the standard drill in the event of an air raid was for his class to get under their desks. He took his school exams in bomb shelters, and during the Religious Studies exam the air raid siren sounded. The invigilators all went off to confer and by all accounts, so did the candidates in their absence, leading to better results across the board. One morning a 'doodle bug' exploded close to the family home and Jim's breakfast egg, saved by his mother to fortify his brain for the exam, was splattered all over the kitchen wall. He was packed off to school with a note asking for allowance to be made for the fact that he had had no breakfast and had suffered a traumatic experience, and went on to pass his German History exam with flying colours.
After military service in the Intelligence Corps followed by study at Cambridge, he joined the Factory Inspectorate, where he met his wife, Meg, moving from Birmingham to Manchester, Norfolk, and Stoke-on-Trent before finally settling in London in 1971.
Jim Hammer played a significant role in drafting the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and was Chief Inspector of Factories from 1975 to 1984, before being appointed Deputy Director General of the Health and Safety Executive until his retirement in 1989. For his valuable contributions to improving Health and Safety at work he was made a Companion of the Order of the Bath. After retirement he took on a whole new range of responsibilities including becoming president of the International Organisation of Labour Inspectors (1984-93), which involved leading reviews of inspection systems across the world, sometimes chairing meetings in three languages. He was one of the first directors on the board of World Skills UK, set up to promote the value of vocational skills to young people through competition (1990-2000). He also was the chairman of NEBOSH, the leading safety, health and environmental examination board from 1992-95.
Locally, he was vice chair of the Camberwell Health Authority (1982-91) and chaired Kings Healthcare trust's Assisted Conception Ethics Committee (1999-2005), as well as volunteering for Southwark MENCAP and later working alongside Meg as a volunteer Traidcraft representative at St Barnabas, Dulwich, where he was active in the campaign to encourage supermarkets to stock Fairtrade goods.