Scotsman Obituaries: Tom Richardson, Scottish town planner and conjurer

Tom Richardson, town planner and magician. Born: 30 November 1943 in Edinburgh. Died: 17 June 2021 in Livingston, aged 77

Tom Richardson had the magic touch
Tom Richardson had the magic touch

By day Tom Richardson worked in the Scottish Office in Edinburgh where he played an important role in Town and Country planning.

By night he changed personalities and became a popular professional magician who actually founded the West Lothian branch of the Magic Circle.

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He was a member of the official branch initially but when he moved out to the then new town of Livingston, he realised there was a need to expand.

Richardson was one of five children, one of whom was his identical twin. He studied at Edinburgh University where he majored in Town and Country planning and reckoned his greatest achievement was being responsible from conception to construction of the beautiful Almondell Country Park.

His early life saw him become a student of dance at the Betty Brandon School of Dancing and his ballet training stood him in good stead when he joined the Livingston Players in 1971, a highly talented group who went on to present musicals and award-winning plays.

Richardson inevitably took part and actually danced the wine glass sequence in Fiddler on the Roof and somersaulted energetically in the famous Waiters' gallop sequence in Hello Dolly.

His love of theatre also saw him becoming a member of the famous Scouts' Gang Shows in Edinburgh and taking part in their Jamborees. Incredibly, even then he was performing as a fire eater.

Richardson's great love, apart from his wife Christina whom he met at a church social where he was honing his act, was magic and many charities over the years have benefited from his skilled performances, given free of charge – among them variety shows staged by myself.

Children adored his magic shows and the Hallowe’en Show he presented on one occasion was reckoned to be the scariest ever – by the parents.

He and Christina ran the cubs together at their local church, and resplendent in his favourite tartan jacket, he was one of the guest acts when the Carlton Highland hotel in Edinburgh opened their Minus One nightclub several years ago.

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Tom Richardson's house in the Parks in Livingston had the distinction of being the only one with a custom-built hatch at the doorway which housed his much-loved white rabbit, much to the delight of visiting local children whom he and Christina loved entertaining.

After he retired from his day job, Richardson became a popular invigilator at schools and was able to devote more time to his magic act.

Several years ago he contacted a rare illness from which he miraculously recovered. However this left him somewhat lacking in energy and he became the user of a mobility scooter, allowing him to meet up with his many friends at the Livingston Centre for catch-ups.

When it came to discussing the wonders of nature and flora and fauna, and outer space and the planets and the stars, Richardson proved to be highly knowledgeable and also highly entertaining.

To say Tom Richardson cast a spell of happiness on everyone he met is an understatement. He was magic!

He is survived by wife Christina, their daughter Donna, brother Ian, grandson Josh and great grandson TJ.


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