Kevin Leyden, Obituary

Kevin Leyden, outside the Wheelhouse he did so much to save

Kevin Leyden, outside the Wheelhouse he did so much to save [Full image 28.2kb]

I first met Kevin Leyden in September 1981 when I was appointed to the headship of Links First School in Merton. It soon became apparent that Kevin had a deep interest in local history, particularly of the Victorian era and was determined that his pupils should learn to appreciate something of our local heritage. He organised many fascinating trips, mostly along the banks of the River Wandle and, on one famous occasion, as part of a study on the Romans, took a class of nine years on a day trip to Bath! Kevin was a very conscientious and inspiring teacher and staff as well as pupils became more interested in local history.

Since I had a background in project management ( I had been responsible for setting up Deen City Farm in 1979) it wasn't long before Kevin and I talked about pooling our different expertise….. and so was born the notion of an industrial museum to celebrate the work of people like William Morris and Arthur Liberty. In the early 1980s, there were extensive funds available to community groups involving the employment of armies of the unemployed and soon we had a group of volunteers and workers under the banner of the Wandle Industrial Museum. The early days owed a great deal to Kevin's superb knowledge, commitment and foresight. There's no doubt that, without his leadership and determination, the project would not have got beyond the drawing board.

Although Kevin and Julie subsequently moved away from the area, Kevin maintained his links with the museum, often attending various events and, of course, writing highly skilled and informative articles and booklets for the museum. We also have to be grateful to Kevin, for it was he who introduced Ray to the museum!

It was no surprise when Kevin's interest in the Wandle Industrial Museum led him on a career change that eventually led to work full-time in the museum business.

Kevin Leyden

Kevin Leyden [Full image 21.1kb]

Those who knew Kevin will know that another of his life-long passions was Wimbledon Football Club. As a school boy in the 1950s he stood on the terraces at Plough Lane and, despite the subsequent successes of the Dons, he retained an affection for the atmosphere of the non-league game. He was proud that, amongst present day Dons' fans, he was one of the few who enjoyed the Amateur Cup successes of the 1960s. When proposals were mooted to move his beloved club to Milton Keynes, Kevin joined the campaign to prevent the move. He was one of thousands, of course, but few fought the campaign with such heart-felt conviction and eloquence as Kevin. The formation of AFC Wimbledon, and their subsequent success, was one of the great joys of Kevin's last years.

Kevin was a warm friend, great conversationalist and a person who stood by the same beliefs and interests throughout his life. His wonderful homes, which he shared with Julie in Brixton, Brighton, Morden, Derby and Shrewsbury bear testimony to his life-long passions and interests. His passing is a great shock and a huge loss to all who knew him and our thoughts at this time are with his family, especially Julie.

by Harry Galley, founder member.

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