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Pauline Baines obituary: ‘Tenacious’ Primrose Hill stalwart dies aged 103

PUBLISHED: 14:29 30 October 2020 | UPDATED: 09:40 02 November 2020

Pauline Baines (1917-2020) lived in Primrose Hill from the 1950s until her death on October 11. Picture: Jane Bickerton

Pauline Baines (1917-2020) lived in Primrose Hill from the 1950s until her death on October 11. Picture: Jane Bickerton

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A “tenacious” book designer and staunch Primrose Hill resident has died two days after celebrating her 103rd birthday.

Pauline (second from right) on her 100th birthday with former Camden mayor Richard Cotton (far left) and Primose Hill councillor Pat Callaghan (second from left). Picture: Liz HeavenstonePauline (second from right) on her 100th birthday with former Camden mayor Richard Cotton (far left) and Primose Hill councillor Pat Callaghan (second from left). Picture: Liz Heavenstone

A “tenacious” book designer and staunch Primrose Hill resident has died two days after celebrating her 103rd birthday.

Pauline Baines lived in NW1 since the 1950s in a housing association flat in Regent’s Park Road – in a Grade II-listed building designed by the famous modernist architect Ernő Goldfinger.

The membership secretary of the Primrose Hill Labour Party was married to Harry Baines (1910-1995), a well-known artist who was instrumental in bringing Picasso’s Guernica painting to a Manchester exhibition in 1939.

The second child of Moses and Sonia Behr, Pauline came from a Lithuanian family who fled anti-Jewish pogroms at the turn of the 20th century.

Pauline was the membership secretary of the Primrose Hill Labour Party. Picture: Jane BickertonPauline was the membership secretary of the Primrose Hill Labour Party. Picture: Jane Bickerton

She was born in Hove and moved with her family to West Hampstead and then to Blenheim Gardens in Cricklewood where she grew up and went to school.

She later studied illustration at Willesden Art School (now Central Saint Martins).

The Behrs were observant Jews but Pauline was said to have an “independent mindset” and she was never a part of the Jewish community.

When the Second World War broke out, she volunteered for the Red Cross as a nurse and later worked in a telephone factory in Kilburn which made small parts for airplanes.

Pauline had a fall in 2015 but continued to live in her third-floor flat without lift access until she passed away. Picture: Stephen LubellPauline had a fall in 2015 but continued to live in her third-floor flat without lift access until she passed away. Picture: Stephen Lubell

After the war she joined the Ministry of Information Exhibitions, and in 1951 she worked on displays for the Festival of Britain ship Campania, which toured the coast of Britain.

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In 1958 Pauline started working as a book designer for Thames & Hudson, before taking a six-month trip to India with her husband Harry in 1959.

On her return to Thames & Hudson – where she worked until retirement – Pauline was appointed as art editor and then senior book designer.

She was particularly proud of her work on the two-volume Honoré Daumier Catalogue Raisonné of the Paintings, Watercolours and Drawings.

A longstanding committee member of the Primrose Hill Community Association, she attracted many friends including the actress Mary Wylie, and Revd Tom Devonshire Jones – the vicar of St Mark’s Church in Regent’s Park.

Pauline was a devoted reader, particularly in world literature and art, and she regularly read to her blind friend Jean Rossiter.

The Primrose Hill resident enjoyed holidays in India, Italy, Greece and France and could speak in several languages.

Stephen Lubell, Pauline’s nephew by marriage, said she was “tenacious” but that she “steadfastly maintained her principles and optimistic outlook”.

“She will be missed by all who knew her,” Stephen said.

In 2015 Pauline had a fall at home following which she continued to live in her third-floor flat without lift access.

By the end of her life she suffered from dementia and needed full-time care.

Pauline, who didn’t have any children, died at home on October 11.

Her funeral, a humanist ceremony, was held on October 28 at Golders Green Crematorium.


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