Tributes paid to 'eccentric North Laine legend'

Tributes paid to 'eccentric North Laine legend' <i>(Image: JJ Waller)</i>
Tributes paid to 'eccentric North Laine legend' (Image: JJ Waller)

Hundreds of people lined the streets to say farewell to a "legend" renowned for his colourful and eccentric outfits.

James Devenney was affectionately known as Slow Moving James because of the way he ambled round Brighton.

The 62-year-old was best known for his bright and quirky outfits, which he wore while parading through the streets of North Laine, described as "his catwalk".

The Argus: He was often seen roaming the North Laine
The Argus: He was often seen roaming the North Laine

He was often seen roaming the North Laine (Image: JJ Waller)

Photographer JJ Waller, who has published a series of photographic books of Brighton, said: "His outfits were both legendary and fantastical, and in an age where the word icon is massively misattributed, it rightly described James.

"He epitomises the very essence of what makes Brighton so unique, not since the Prince Regent has there been a Brightonian of such visual elan.

"To say he will be missed is an understatement and the city needs to celebrate his amazing contribution."

The Argus: James' casket was decorated with his boots, motorcycle helmet and flowers
The Argus: James' casket was decorated with his boots, motorcycle helmet and flowers

James' casket was decorated with his boots, motorcycle helmet and flowers (Image: JJ Waller)

Crowds turned out to watch James's funeral cortege pass by on Thursday, January 19. His familiar colourful cowboy boots were in the hearse.

Karen Colvin, who was James's neighbour in Blenheim Place and his "best friend" said: "He was the most special person I've ever met.

"There was more to him than his outfit. He liked to be dressed up but he also loved seeing people. I noticed a shine in his eyes, as he did his catwalk around North Laine.

"He didn't quite believe that he was royalty in the North Laine, but I hope that he sees he is a legend now."

The Argus: James and Karen
The Argus: James and Karen

James and Karen (Image: Karen Colvin)

James visited retro and charity shops across the city to find his eccentric attire.

Mark Severn, who has a stall at Snoopers Paradise in Kensington Gardens, said James was always in the back of her mind, adding: "We used to get some clothes in and we would describe them as 'James wear'.

"He had a really dry sense of humour. The first time I met him I was dressed up with a friend and he said 'I like your look, it's a shame Vivienne Westwood did it first' and then ran out of the shop in an incredibly slow way."

The Argus: Michael holds Slow Moving James' motorcycle helmet
The Argus: Michael holds Slow Moving James' motorcycle helmet

Michael holds Slow Moving James' motorcycle helmet (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

James's barber Michael Hutson, whose shop Clippers is in Sydney Street, said: "He used to come in every morning, always wearing something different.

"I loved the way he dressed, it was just brilliant. I photographed him every day he came in. It was completely different. Every day, he was a different character, and he made everyone smile."

The Argus: Michael looks down at a book he made with some of James' portraits
The Argus: Michael looks down at a book he made with some of James' portraits

Michael looks down at a book he made with some of James' portraits (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

"He would talk to everybody, he was just a lovely, lovely man. To me, he was a really close friend."

He said James's funeral was a "lovely" sight as the cortege passed through the city centre. He said: "A lot of people dressed up, all colourful, to remember him."

James was a lover of all things music. He frequently visited Resident records in Kensington Gardens and Across The Tracks in Gloucester Road.

Karen said: "Punk changed his life. His knowledge of music is like an encyclopedia, you could ask him anything about any genre, and he'd have a wealth of knowledge about it."

Alan Childs, who owns Across The Tracks, said: "He was such a character, a one-off.

"James was very much into Iggy Pop. I wouldn't like to say he was a tourist attraction, but he was. People would stop, take pictures of him, speak with him.

"There aren't many young eccentrics, all the people you do know seem to be sadly disappearing."

The Argus: An Iggy Pop record at Across The Tracks in Brighton
The Argus: An Iggy Pop record at Across The Tracks in Brighton

An Iggy Pop record at Across The Tracks in Brighton (Image: Andrew Gardner / The Argus)

Dan Robertson, assistant shop floor manager at Resident, said: "He came in here an awful lot, everybody knew who he was, and everybody who came past always said hello to him.

"He would always come with a really bad joke too. Some of them not so politically correct, but lots of dad jokes."

"Years ago, there was much more of an alternative scene, and this is something that is disappearing from Brighton. It's like we're losing a part of the city, and as it changes we lose these people that make Brighton what it is."

The Argus: Shopkeepers and well-wishers await the cortege in Trafalgar Street
The Argus: Shopkeepers and well-wishers await the cortege in Trafalgar Street

Shopkeepers and well-wishers await the cortege in Trafalgar Street (Image: JJ Waller)

There are hopes for a permanent installation in memory of James, who died on October 17. A GoFundMe was set up in the hopes of funding a mural in North Laine. Karen said there are bigger plans for a float in Brighton Pride and a celebration of his life at the Brighton Festival.

Hedley Swain, chief executive of the Royal Pavilion and Museums Trust,  said: ”James was a well-known and popular character and typified Brighton individuality.

“We are still in discussions about how he might be commemorated and are working with some of his friends in the North Laine community.”