Reunions: Mr Peterborough’s public service extended as far as driving Royal train

Caught on camera by street photographer Chris Porsz in the 1980s and the 2020s – a Peterborough legend.
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Chris said: “In 1983 I snapped Charles Swift, known as Mr Peterborough, entering the Town Hall after being lobbied by council workers protesting against privatisation.

“Charles born in 1930 in Yorkshire and came with his mum Maud to the city on VJ Day 1945. Charles was a train driver for 48 years, followed in his mum’s footsteps and became the youngest ever city councillor at the age of 23 in 1954.

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“He became the longest-serving councillor in the country after 62 years in office and his sister, Audrey Chalmers, also served for 32 years. Charles became council leader, as well as the Mayor and Deputy Mayor.

Charles Swift in 1983, left, and outside his house in 2021Charles Swift in 1983, left, and outside his house in 2021
Charles Swift in 1983, left, and outside his house in 2021

“He won 15 elections, attended more than 500 full council meetings, met the Queen five times and welcomed Princess Diana to the Town Hall.

"Charles was married to Brenda for 65 years, later became an Independent and only missed two council meetings.

“He attended 1,700 funerals of his constituents and in 1985 he was made an OBE. From 1968 to 1988 he was a member of the Development Corporation.”

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He drove the Queen twice on the Royal train and said: “I was given a £10 tip and my fireman received £5 from the Queen’s equerry.”

Chris said: “Charles never had a car and cycled everywhere since the age of nine.

“I took his picture outside his Scotney St house in 2021 and he died in 2022 aged 92,​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​” he added.