A man recognised by millions, but known by few - the carrier of the placard ‘It’s Going to Get Worse’ - died last week at the age of 73.

Bob Rogers was an unofficial custodian and historian of Speakers’ Corner, Hyde Park, with where he has been associated since 1963. He was not an orator himself, but usually drew a small crowd of fellow enthusiasts.

As a boy of 16, he heard the orators and hecklers for the first time, loved the experience and, subsequently, enjoyed the company of such speakers as Norman Schlund and Michael ‘Lord’ Barker.

Bob was born in Watford in May 1947 to Harold and Annie (née Downie) Rogers, attended Westfield Academy when it was Victoria Secondary Moden School for Boys and became an insurance assessor for Royal & Sun Alliance.

Hillingdon Times: Bob Rogers in conversation at Speakers' CornerBob Rogers in conversation at Speakers' Corner

His enthusiasms included visiting Germany and cultivating friendships both there and in the German community in London, local historical societies, especially those connected with public transport and writing a regular column for SEBRA NEWS W2, the magazine of the South-East Bayswater Residents’ Association.

Bob lived in Westbourne Grove, Bayswater, and maintained contact with businesses with whom he had long-standing connections, including the Archive Bookstore in Bell Street, Simmons Bakers in Croxley Green, Fish Bone fish & chip shop in Cleveland Street, Hoxton Pie & Mash shop, the Wong Kei restaurant in China Town and Sainsbury’s in Ladbroke Grove.

Hillingdon Times: 'Bob Doom' spreads his message'Bob Doom' spreads his message

He was a strong advocate for Speakers’ Corner, the Royal Parks, London Transport and its buses, together with the provision of toilet facilities and the elimination of graffiti, as well as, supporting his fears that surveillance cameras would ensure that life would only get worse.

Bob was a man seen by countless residents of, and visitors to, London, described in books about the capital and featured by manufacturers of greetings cards and badges.

Hillingdon Times: Bob Rogers died last week at the age of 73Bob Rogers died last week at the age of 73

He was also known by some as ‘Bob Doom’ and he once said: "It was the winter when British Rail reported ‘the wrong kind of snow’ on the line and that became an Evening Standard headline.

"The next day, I saw ‘It’s Going to Get Worse,’ on the news stand as I went through Piccadilly on a bus. So I jumped off and took it from the hoarding and put in my bag because I like the prose style of newspaper headlines. Then I came to Speakers’ Corner one Sunday in February 1991 and everyone looked so miserable that I took it out of my bag and held it up, and it made them all smile.

"It caught on to such an extent that I am pictured wearing it in guidebooks to London. That’s almost 30 years on."

Pay tribute to Bob Rogers

"Did you know Bob Rogers when he was growing up in Watford or have spoken to him when he has been back in the area? Perhaps you've seen him at Speakers' Corner when working or visiting in London and have spoken to him? You can pay tribute to Bob here."

We asked for your responses - this is what you sent.

Chris Kennett

What are your memories of Bob Rogers?
I first met Bob 10 years ago at Speakers’ Corner. Our shared memories of its history and characters dating back to the 1960s led to an extensive research project at the Bishopsgate Institute. Bob later introduced me to many of his favourite London haunts including the Archive Bookstore where we would frequently meet up at weekends. I shall really miss his wit, wisdom and above all good company.

Martin Fisher

What are your memories of Bob Rogers?
I worked with Bob at Sun Alliance. Great character if very old fashioned!

Cliff Kent

What are your memories of Bob Rogers?
I have known Bob Rogers for about 25 years. As a frequent speaker on my ladder or debater on terra firma, I always met Bob when entering 'the park' each week. Bob was warm, engaging, unpretentious and rarely spoke about himself. In a sense he was a very private person but a mine of information about the city. Despite his poster 'It's going to get worse' I always found him to be a gloom dispeller. If one was feeling down, one always came away from Bob feeling much better. He always remembered my birthday by sending a humorous card. He did so this year (my birthday is on 14th January), so he must have posted it shortly before his death. It won't be the same now at 'Speakers' Corner.' Kent

John M Blundell

What are your memories of Bob Rogers?
I have known Bob since we both attended Watford Fields Junior Schools then on to Victoria Secondary Modern Boys school in Watford . I kept in touch with Bob throughout his adult life and attended many meetings mostly in central London with Bob After many years of talking to Bob about his trips to Germany we finally travelled together in 2019 from London to Berlin by train on two occasions .These trips were as we now know were to be his last trips to Germany .He was as always knowledgeable and affable and it was for me an enjoyable experience to be in the company of such a well seasoned traveller He loved to collect and read books .His radio was permanently tuned into Radio 3 and he never owned a TV His knowledge of London's landmarks and streets was encyclopaedic and in his younger days he was a regular attender of orchestral concerts and Opera. I will miss his humour and wit and his eccentricities He always signed off his messages with on we go .Now London has lost colourful and enriching character

John Humphries

What are your memories of Bob Rogers?
The Watford Observer is to be congratulated on giving full coverage to the life and times of Bob Rogers, a full character who enjoyed the company of many and who encouraged people to consider several aspects of the human condition. Things are worse without him!