The death has been announced of a much admired local newspaper photographer.

Mike Dellow, who worked for many years on the Watford Observer, has died aged 87 at his home in Lincolnshire, surrounded by his family.

Mike was born in 1932 and grew up in Merton Park, London, and then moved to Stoneleigh, near Epsom. At the outbreak of the Second World War, the family relocated to Bierton, near Aylesbury.

After leaving school just after the war, Mike joined Hazell, Watson & Viney, a firm of printers in Aylesbury. He worked in their photogravure department but a career in printing was cut short when it was discovered that he was colour-blind.

A neighbour, who was himself a photographer, suggested that Mike develop an alternative career in photography, something he was already interested in. This led to him being taken on as a junior photographer on the local newspaper the Bucks Advertiser, joining in 1948, aged 16.

But within just a few years his life once again took an unexpected turn when in 1951, as a National Service soldier, he served as a tank wireless operator in the Korean War as a member of the 5th Royal Inniskilling Dragoon Guards, under the auspices of the United Nations.

After demobilisation in early 1953, Mike returned to his job as a photographer on the Bucks Advertiser, subsequently moving to its office in Dunstable and then, in 1956, the company's Watford office.

By this stage he was attracting interest from other newspapers who much admired his skills. This led to Mike being offered a job as a photographer with the Watford Observer, a position he held from 1962 to 1967 then again from 1983 to 1989. He also worked on the now defunct Watford Post.

Mike became widely known in the Watford area as a busy photographer for the Observer, with his ever present camera capturing local events, visiting dignitaries and dramatic incidences; he was also regularly seen behind the goal at Vicarage Road snapping the highlights of numerous Watford FC matches.

Between 1976 and 1983, Mike worked at the Evening Echo regional newspaper, based at Hemel Hempstead, becoming its chief photographer and later picture editor when the Evening Echo merged with the Luton Post to form the Post-Echo. During his time at the Echo, Mike saw many of the photographers he took on eventually become top Fleet Street newspaper men, a fact that he was particularly proud of.

Mike's association with Thompson Regional Newspapers, publishers of the Post-Echo, was re-established in 1989 when he was appointed Head Photographer of the newly established Watford Herald. Though the newspaper did not survive long in the increasingly competitive local newspaper market, his tenure gave him access to 67 steel cabinets containing thousands of photographs that he had saved six years earlier from a skip when the Post-Echo shut down. He then began a long-term process of cataloguing the negatives and black & white photos contained in these boxes.

Mike and his wife Jo - a nurse at Watford General Hospital, whom he married in 1960 - retired to Lincolnshire in 2002, and here the couple made many new friends in the picturesque village of Gedney Dyke. In retirement, he continued his hobby of renovating motorcycles, as well as cataloguing and digitising the photographs he took throughout his long career. He also collected vintage cameras.

Mike retained a great fondness for Hertfordshire, and Watford and Bushey in particular, and took much pleasure in sharing his many historically important photographs that helped define the ever-changing urban landscape, with many of his original photographs being featured in books on the history of Watford.

Mike is survived by his wife Jo, his children Nicholas, Richard, Katherine and Sally, seven grandchildren and two great grandchildren, as well as his younger brother Richard and sister Gill.