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SUNDAY 19  MAY 2024

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Daily Express photographer who found worldwide fame

BY JEREMY GATES

Len Trievnor, the Daily Express photographer who found fame worldwide with his picture of Muhammed Ali (then Cassius Clay) in his London hotel room in 1963, has died at his home in North Devon, a few months short of his 95th birthday.  His celebrated picture is currently available online at £1,332, including packing.


The picture shows the famous boxer predicting that he will flatten Henry Cooper, the British heavyweight champion and challenger, in five rounds.


Len, bought and brought up in Newington Butts in the East End, left the Express in the great redundo exercise of 1987, just before his 60th birthday after a career of around 30 years with the paper.  Before that, he worked at the Sport and General photographic agency, where he joined as a member of the darkroom staff. He leaves a widow, Sheila. still in fine fettle at 86 and three children Jeremy (64), Simon (62 and Sue (59) and four grandchildren


Says Len's middle son Simon: "When he left the Express, he hung up his camera and decided it was time to live a life of leisure, split equally between  their homes in Surrey, near Ottershaw, and Devon.  He was very good at relaxing, and didn't feel the need to join anything.  He would sit in his front garden in the tiny North Devon village of Georgeham and pass the time of day with anybody strolling past, and he was pretty well-known in the village pub, The Rock, too where we held a fairly crowded and wake for more than 50 people. He knew all the locals, and was obviously a local himself."


Simon says his Dad had a very active retirement until a fall, five years ago, which broke his leg below the thigh bone.  He was well until the start of the year when he caught a lung infection which turned into pneumonia.  When the ambulance came to take him back to hospital, Len politely declined and said he preferred to stay at home with family. He died on March 10


Len bought the 400 year old cottage in Georgeham , about a mile from the coast, for £2,000 in the early 1960s, when North Devon was very much in the shadow of South Devon as a holiday destination. Simon recalls: "It gave us some marvellous summers as a family, as we went down there for the whole of the summer.  He was a marvellous Dad to all of us, demanding the deanding Fleet Street routine,  always keen to help us where he could.  Dad would come back to London on the train when he had used up his holiday time, and leave us down there.  We always went down there in our school holidays and knew the place so well, it became our second home ."


Simon says Len always preferred Devon for his holidays and liked to do most of his work on home shores too.  "He decided flying was not for him and was very much UK-based".   His retirement was divided between his homes in Devon in the summer and Surrey.


Among his best pictures listed with Getty today include Jack Dempsey, Louis Armstrong, Bing Crosby, the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton.


Another famous Express photographer Larry Ellis, recalls: "Len was very effective as a photographer because he knew how to get on with everybody.  He got particularly good pictures around Court hearings.  At the end of the day, you would usually find him in The Bell with Stan Meagher, Bob Stiggins, Mike McKeown and Bill Lovelace.  They were in there on that famous evening when George the publican threw somebody out through the front door, and they came straight back in via the back door!"