Obituary: Henry Tomes, 91

Henry Tomes shows off early technology outside his shop
Henry Tomes shows off early technology outside his shop
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The man who opened Scotland’s first television shop, in Gilmerton, has died at the age of 91.

Henry Tomes was born in June 1921 and grew up in the Erdington area of Birmingham.

He met his first wife Catherine, an Edinburgh girl, at dancing classes while she was in Birmingham training to become a nurse.

During the Second World War, Henry served with the Fleet Air Arm, where he learned Morse Code – something he was still able to do quickly and accurately at the age of 90.

After moving to the Capital to marry Catherine, Henry opened a small radio and television dealership in Gilmerton in 1951, followed some years later by a second shop in Newington.

When King George VI died in 1952, Henry rented a church hall and installed a television set in it so that people could gather to watch the funeral.

Most of Henry’s customers rented their televisions and would often call upon him when things went wrong, as they frequently did with temperamental early sets.

He and Catherine set up home at a new housing development in Duddingston Avenue. On a corner site, with a garden on three sides, an attractive garden was allowed to bloom featuring roses at the front and a herbaceous border at the side.

After his wife’s death in 1971, Henry went along to the first meeting of what became the Lothian Social Club after spotting an advert in the Evening News.

At the next meeting he took along a record player and some music, sparking a successful experiment and the birth of a ballroom dancing club for single people.

The group continued to branch out, with members enjoying holidays and various outings, and also inspired marriages, not least for Henry himself.

He married keen gardener Mima and together they developed the Duddingston Avenue garden to the stage where it claimed an award in an Edinburgh in Bloom competition.

Known as a skilful inventor, Henry was a member of the Merchants of Edinburgh and spent his weekends on skates with the Murrayfield Ice Dancing Association.

Henry, who died yesterday, is survived by his sister Florence, his daughters Susan, Hilary and Jennifer, and also by his grandchildren Maya, Jonathan, Thomas and Joanna. His second wife Mima died in 2006.