DescriptionBorn within the sound of Bow Bells in the east end of London Tony was therefore a Cockney and proud of it. He had a sister, Joy (b. 1930) who is now Mrs. James.
Tony started work as an industrial chemist with British Drug Houses near King’s Cross London and, a year later while with the company, he joined the army during the last few weeks of the Second World War. Between December 1944 and December 1947 he served in a field regiment as an army driver operator. During this period he was posted to several countries including India, Egypt, Greece and Palestine.
Through a day-release-programme he gained a degree in chemistry and found employment with A. Johnson & Co. at Molly Miller Lane, Wokingham as chemical engineer. Johnson was the first company to introduce stainless steel kitchen sinks. He ran a development laboratory and was later transferred to the sales department.
In 1947 he met his wife, Doreen Abbott (1924-2005) of Paddington at a dance and they were married four years later in 1951. They had one daughter Ann Lucia (b. 1962).
He entered civic life because, according to him, he was a nosey parker who had a strong desire to contribute to the community. Doreen was his Mayoress during his Mayoral terms. He was very enthusiastic when it came to the council’s ceremonial events and traditions. In particular, as Mayor he was very keen to have Wokingham Town Hall refurbished to its former Victorian splendour.
He was regarded by many as a first class Mayor and an active member of the council who was never slow in coming forward with his arguments or views. He was also someone who served the community and his ward conscientiously and diligently.
It was said by members of the public that he was never too busy to talk and listen to them. He also admitted that he disapproved of the manner in which the new borough council was established
In 1979 and 1984 he visited Australia to establish an edible oil similar to margarine for Bunbury Foods. Unfortunately the company went into administration and he returned to the U.K.
In April 2003 Tony presented the town with an embroidery created by the Wokingham and District Embroiderers’ Guild. The embroidery represents the town of Wokingham with views of notable buildings, in particular the Town Hall. The embroidery also incorporates the badge of the R.E.M.E., the Wokingham crest, the town flag and the oak leaves and acorns that are symbols of the town. It took a year to produce by twenty members of the guild and was designed by Jane Bonney.
Doreen was severely injured in November 2005, after being involved in an accident in Old Forest Road, and died soon afterwards.
Six years later Tony was diagnosed with cancer. He died on Friday, 3rd December at the Royal Berks. Hospital in Reading. His funeral service took place at All Saints’ Parish Church.
SourceFormer Town Mayors of Wokingham from 1980 - 2015, by J Bell.
“Anthony Barber,” Wokingham's Virtual Museum, accessed August 15, 2020, https://wokingham-tc.gov.uk/museum/document/WTH0172.