HE WAS affectionately known as Mr Basingstoke – and now there is a lasting special tribute in the town centre to popular local historian, author and legendary Gazette journalist Arthur Attwood.

Basingstoke Heritage Society has put up the plaque commemorating Arthur at the site of the entrance of the former printworks of Bird Brothers – which used to own The Gazette – in Church Street.

The plaque is the 19th that has been installed by the society, and joins thosehonouring the likes of Jane Austen, Thomas Burberry and John Arlott.

In front of a crowd of family, friends, borough mayor Councillor David Leeks, and representatives of charities and organisations that Arthur – who died in 2002 aged 86 – was involved in, Gazette editor Mark Jones unveiled the plaque.

Prior to the unveiling, heritage society chairman Ian Williams spoke of Arthur’s achievements in life, including his 73 years of contribution to the choir at St Michael’s Church, and his association with many organisations such as the Scouts, and Basingstoke Amateur Operatic Society.

Mr Williams also spoke of Arthur’s service with the Home Guard during the Second World War, his time working for lorry manufacturer Thornycroft, and at The Gazette, which he was associated with for 40 years.

He recalled Arthur receiving the Freedom of the Borough in 1989 and his MBE in the 2000 New Year Honours List for his outstanding services to the local community, as well as his various Basingstoke history publications.

Impressed with the number of people who attended the unveiling, Mr Jones said: “Arthur would be extremely proud to see so many people here today – it’s a great tribute to a very special man.”

He recalled how Arthur used to walk to The Gazette’s Pelton Road offices every week to deliver his copy.

“It was a wonderful sight,” said Mr Jones. “Arthur would come to the offices with Flash his faithful dog, and it would be lovely to chat to Arthur about Basingstoke and its history.

“Of course, his knowledge of Basing-stoke’s history was unparalleled. He very much enjoyed writing his articles, particularly the Ask Arthur section.

“Occasionally, somebody would ask him a question and he didn’t know the answer.

“But Arthur being Arthur, and being a good journalist and a good researcher, he would go away and find the answer, and the next week it would be in the paper.”

Mr Jones, who paid tribute to the work of Basingstoke Heritage Society in keeping Basingstoke’s history alive, added: “It’s a great honour to be here to unveil this special plaque to a very special man, Arthur Attwood MBE – a man who, quite rightly, was known as Mr Basingstoke – a title he earned and deserved, and a man Basingstoke can very much be proud of.”