Horsham man remembered as ‘genius’ and ‘true gent’

Buster aged 90 with his family, from left: grandson Matthew, granddaughter Lorna, daughter Jackie and Lorna's husband Jordan
Buster aged 90 with his family, from left: grandson Matthew, granddaughter Lorna, daughter Jackie and Lorna's husband Jordan

A ‘true gent’, ‘one of life’s great characters’ and a ‘genius’ is how a Horsham man has been described following his death at the age of 91 last month.

Buster Brown has been remembered as a talented artist whose greatest achievement was designing the lion on the tail of British Caledonian aircraft.

Buster Brown of Horsham, who died in July

Buster Brown of Horsham, who died in July

Buster died at his home on July 19.

Born Arthur Brown in March 1924, he was a talented sportsman in his youth, playing for West Ham’s youth football team for a spell and later becoming an area boxing champion in London.

During the Second World War, the Brown family lived at London Zoo as Buster’s father was made chief electrician in residence.

In 1940, when the zoo was bombed and a zebra escaped, Buster chased the runaway animal down Camden High Street. He also claimed to have had a pet monkey called Charlie that smoked, his daughter Jackie said.

He started in the RAF, working as a physical training instructor and then a parachute instructor.

He then worked as a remedial gymnast instructor, helping those injured by war. Buster’s exercises of gurning, clowning and pub crawls helped hundreds to face life again, his family said.

Buster began working at Dunsfold Aerodrome in 1948. Among other roles, he helped to prepare legendary pilot Neville Duke’s plane for a successful air speed record attempt.

While working for British United Airways - which became Caledonian, then British Caledonian and finally British Airways, Buster designed the lion rampant on the tail of the BCal aircraft, something of which he was exceptionally proud. His family said it was his greatest achievement.

Buster ran the paint shop at Gatwick Airport, where the colourful character enjoyed playing pranks on colleagues.

A self-taught artist and calligrapher with exceptional talent, Buster also built carnival floats and the ‘Bognor Birdman’ man-powered aircraft.

During his retirement, Buster used his engineering skills to build a number of coin-operated brass traction engine models. They raised more than £5,000 for charity when they were displayed at a local garden centre, and the models are currently at Amberley Working Museum.

His daughter Jackie said he had a long and illustrious career, but the achievement of his life was a long and devoted marriage of 61 years to Olive, who passed away a couple of years ago.

The pair met while Buster was working at Dunsfold and got married in 1951.

In 1957 they bought their home in Larch End, Horsham and continued living there until the end of their lives. They became expert ballroom dancers and won medals.

Buster and his team also painted the British Caledonian float for the 1983 Horsham festival procession.

Laurie Price of Horsham, another former Caledonian employee, said: “Buster had a unique talent and was responsible for painting the iconic heraldic lion rampant on the tail of British Caledonian’s fleet.

“That logo was recognised around the world and exemplified the high level of customer service of BCAL and was a source of real pride to BCAL staff and its customers.”

He leaves Jackie, grandchildren Matthew and Lorna, and great-grandson Noah.

Tributes to Buster have flooded in from friends and former colleagues on a website set up by former employees.

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