Sir John Loveridge

Conservative MP, poet and artist
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The Independent Online

John Warren Loveridge, politician, businessman, sculptor, painter and poet: born 9 September 1925; member, Hampstead Borough Council 1953-59; Principal, St Godric's College 1954-90; MP (Conservative) for Hornchurch 1970-74, for Upminster 1974-83; Kt 1988; married 1954 Jean Chivers (three sons, two daughters); died London 13 November 2007.

John Loveridge was first elected to Parliament in 1970 as the Conservative MP for Hornchurch and, after boundary changes, in 1974 took on the less than promising Upminster constituency, turning it into a safe Conservative seat. Although he was an active backbencher, playing a full part in committees, he always had wider interests. He published his first book of poetry, God Save the Queen: sonnets of Elizabeth I, in 1981 and later in life, after standing down from the Commons in 1983, he exhibited his sculptures and paintings, creating a permanent exhibition in east Devon.

Loveridge was born in 1925 and was educated privately. After graduating in Engineering from St John's College, Cambridge, he briefly worked on aircraft research before becoming the Vice-Principal of St Godric's College in Hampstead, London, which had been founded by his mother in 1929. From 1954 he was its Principal and among his recruits to the staff was the writer John Fowles.

Loveridge's initial forays into politics were as a prospective candidate for the Liberal Party, but in 1949 he joined the Conservatives. He fought the safe Labour seat of Aberavon in the 1951 general election and was equally unsuccessful when he sought to win a seat on the London County Council in 1952. From 1953 to 1959 he served as a Hampstead Borough Councillor and he continued his association with politics in Hampstead as the treasurer of the constituency party, 1959-65.

Although he retained his position as Principal of St Godric's until 1990 and from 1963 served as a magistrate in London, he was also developing his agricultural interests in the West Country and was the proud owner of Bindon Manor in Axmouth.

He was chosen to fight Hornchurch for the Conservatives in 1970, regaining the seat lost in 1966, by a majority of 5,830. After redistribution, he was chosen to fight the highly marginal seat of Upminster in February 1974 and won it by 1,008 votes. In the following October, with the Liberal vote squeezed, he clung on by 694 votes and in the course of the next five years built a much more secure majority.

In the Commons he served on the General Purposes Committee of the Expenditure Committee and on the Procedure Committee. He was always interested in economics, and his principal concern was with small businesses. In 1974 he was elected vice-chairman and from 1979 to 1983 served as chairman of the Conservative Smaller Business Committee. He also contributed to the publication Moving Forward: small businesses and the economy (1983).

After he left the House in 1983, Loveridge took on the presidency of the Hampstead and Highgate Conservative Association, 1986-93, the Upminster Conservative Association, 1992-2002, and the Greater London Young Conservatives 1984-93, and was the founder of the Dinosaurs Club (for former Conservative MPs), but increasingly his artistic tastes, which had centred on painting and the study of early furniture, turned to sculpture and he mounted one-man exhibitions at the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 2000 and at Norwich Cathedral in the following year. Although he published further books of poetry, Hunter of the Moon (1983) and Hunter of the Sun (1984), he regarded himself in his later years principally as a modern sculptor.

His interest in educational businesses (he and his wife developed Lyndhurst House Preparatory School in Hampstead), and in farming and property, remained strong until the end.

John Barnes