Sub-series - Thomas C. (Tom) Eaton (Trust Chairman, 1975-1997)

Reference code


Thomas C. (Tom) Eaton (Trust Chairman, 1975-1997)


  • 1984-1996 (Creation)

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Extent and medium

108 files; 1 volume

Name of creator


Biographical history

Eldest son of Frederic Ray Eaton (1874-1962) and Ruth Evangeline, née Kingston (1887-1972). Married Robin Elizabeth Austin (1930-) in St Giles church, Oxford, on 5 July 1958. Tom and Robin Eaton have three children, David Austin Eaton (1959-), Katherine Ruth Eaton (1961-) and Mary Elizabeth Cutbill, née Eaton (1965-).
Thomas (Tom) Christopher Eaton born on 13 October 1918 and baptised in the parish of Eaton St Andrew. Educated at Winton school, Norwich, Aldeburgh Lodge school in Suffolk and Stowe School in Buckinghamshire. Joined the Territorial Army, was commissioned in December 1936, and served with the 4th Battalion, The Royal Norfolk Regiment until 1950. During the Second World War, whilst on active service in Singapore, was wounded, captured by Japanese forces and spent more than three years as a prisoner of war in Changi Prisoner of War Camp. As a result of his actions prior to capture, he was mentioned in Despatches. He was demobbed with the rank of major and received the Territorial Decoration in 1946. Tom Eaton was articled to his father, Frederic Eaton, solicitor, from September 1936 and after his war service, qualified as a solicitor and in 1947 was admitted as a Notary Public. He spent the first eleven months of his career with Heningham and Armstong, solicitors of York. In March 1948, he became a partner in his father's law practice, Overbury, Steward & Eaton, and went on to be a senior partner in the firm for almost thirty years. He retired as a consultant of the firm in 2005. Held the post of Registrar to Norwich Archdeaconry from May 1954-? Admitted as a Freeman of the city of Norwich on 28 October 1939 and received an OBE in 1962 in recognition of his services to the city of Norwich. He was awarded an honorary degree of Master of Arts from the University of East Anglia in July 1995.
Tom Eaton's career in local politics began in 1947 when he was elected to City Hall as a Conservative councillor and became a member of several committees including education where he was chairman of Norwich Education Committee, 1968-1970, and was vice-chairman of Norwich Town Planning Committee, ?1950s- ? early 1970s. Conservative party candidate for Norwich North in 1951 and 1955 but not elected. In 1957, he became Lord Mayor of Norwich, his sister Margaret Eaton (later Hare) being Lady Mayoress, he became an alderman in 1962 and Deputy Lieutenant of Norfolk in 1971. Tom Eaton was a major figure in the life of Norwich and a tireless campaigner for his native city over many decades. He was involved in many committees and organizations both local and national, contributing to Norfolk and Norwich life as well as wider society, these include, inter alia; trustee of the Norwich Town Close Estate Charity, 1948-2008; President of the Norwich Society, 1957-1958; chairman of the Management Committee of Norwich Travel Trust, ?1957-?1967; trustee of the East Anglian Trustee Savings Bank, 1957-1980; association chairman of the Norwich Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA), 1960-?; chairman of the Norwich and District War Pensions Committee, ? 1961-? 1966; chairman of the Norwich and District Disablement Advisory Committee, ?1964-?1965; president of Norfolk and Norwich Incorporated Law Society, 1967-1968; president of Norfolk County Cricket Club, 1968-1969; president of the Norwich Fellowship of Ex Prisoners of War (Far East) Association, ?1972-1980; president of the Norfolk Club, 1990; and chairman of the Governors' of Wymondham College, 1992-1995.
In the cultural and historical sphere, Tom Eaton was Chairman of the Libraries Committee from 1962-? 1970s. He was a governor of the Memorial Trust of the 2nd Air Division, United States Army Air Force (USAAF) for many years from 1960-1996, and served as trust vice-chairman, c 1965-1975, and trust chairman, 1975-1996. When fire destroyed the Central Library in Norwich in August 1994, he and fellow governor, former United States Officer, Major Jordan Uttal, were instrumental in finding a replacement for the American Memorial Room which had been founded by the Memorial Trust of the 2nd Air Division as a permanent memorial to the personnel of the 2nd Air Division in East Anglia who lost their lives during the Second World War. This came to fruition with the building of the new Millennium Library and the establishment of the 2nd Air Division Memorial Library which now houses the 2nd Air Division's Roll of Honour, related ephemera, film archive and other material. A founder member and influential in the creation and development of the Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum in Norwich, he was instrumental in setting up a committee to move the Royal Norfolk Regimental collection from Britannia Barracks, the regiment's former home, to the Shirehall in Norwich. The Royal Norfolk Regimental Museum opened in 1990. Tom Eaton served as a trustee of the museum from ?1960s-1990s. Another of Tom Eaton's many legacies was the re-opening of the tunnel between Shirehall and the Castle Museum. Tom Eaton was also involved with the Theatre Royal and served as chairman of the General Purposes Committee of the Theatre Royal (Norwich) Trust Limited from 1972-1985. He was also a friend and supporter of the Norfolk Record Office for many years and was elected the first Chairman of the Norfolk and Norwich Joint Records Committee which was established in 1963.

Archival history

From April 1990, Tom Eaton's secretary took over the typing and administrative support for the Memorial Trust. Papers received from Tom Eaton relating to Trust business before April 1990 are considered to be his personal papers and form part of the Eaton family archive (uncatalogued). Tom Eaton's papers relating to Trust business received after April 1990 are considered to be part of the Trust archive and listed here as SO 247.

Immediate source of acquisition or transfer

Scope and content

Papers deposited by Tom Eaton created and collected by him during the course of his time as Trust Chairman. Includes files of general correspondence and files relating to specific named issues or the organization of specific events.

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For a summary of related papers in the Eaton family archive, see the 'Related Material' entry at the beginning of this catalogue.

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