‘DUA Pizza’: in memory of Brian Hobley

Ian Blair

Life is often very circular it seems, or perhaps it is simply the way that my brain functions and the things that I perceive and the way that I process them. On Friday 8th December I was wandering along Hoe Street the main street in Walthamstow, an area that I and countless archaeologists past and present have set up home in over the years: due to the fact that it was once relatively affordable. On my travels my eyes alighted on the ‘DUA Pizza’ pizzeria which I had not seen before despite having passed this way on countless occasions.

DUA Pizza Shop

Feeling that it was too good a photo opportunity for a former member of ‘Hobley’s Heroes’ to miss, I took a couple of photos and continued on my way. As I walked, I found myself musing about Brian Hobley after he left the DUA having in later life opened a chain of pizzerias as a lucrative sideline to his other varied interests. Some fifteen minutes later I glanced at the emails on my mobile phone and saw one from John Maloney informing me that sadly Brian had recently died.

Winding the clock back to late 1977 and after a summer season working with the Sussex Archaeological Field Unit on several sites around the county, I found myself helping to catalogue pottery in the basement of the Institute of Archaeology from a 16th-century pottery kiln I had worked on at Hartfield in East Sussex. With no immediate prospect of a meaningfully paid job in archaeology it was suggested that I visit the DUA excavation on the GPO Newgate Street site, which I duly did. On arrival I spoke to the site supervisor Alan Thomson who was then in the latter stages of the excavation of St Nicolas Shambles church and its burial ground, who then directed me to the DUA offices on Basinghall Street next to the Guildhall.

Fortuitously I had by chance picked a day when Brian was actually in and some twenty minutes later after a short interview, I left with the offer of a three-month contract working on an on-going Job Creation Programme (JCP) scheme. I started work on the GPO site on the 16th of January 1978 and never actually left London archaeology until forty-two years later in March 2020 I finally departed MOLA, opting for voluntary redundancy following another depressingly cyclical downturn in fieldwork: just as everything stopped for the Covid pandemic, and the entire planet went into lockdown.

Like many former DUA archaeologists I am grateful to Brian Hobley for having given me that initial career opportunity: without which my life may have been very different, and archaeology potentially just been a happy if very distant memory of a once hoped for career that never came to fruition.

RIP Brian Hobley (1930-2023)


1 comment

  • Comment Link john Maloney Friday, 29 December 2023 09:59 posted by john Maloney

    What a happenchance ~ you have invoked a memorable slice of life for many!

    Best wishes, John

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