Ken Hawkes died on 28 January 2016. Ken was a founder member of the Friends of Gunnersbury Park and Museum in 1981 and was the Friends’ first Vice-Chairman. In 1982, when the organisation became a registered charity, he took on the role of Honorary Secretary. He produced meticulous minutes of all our meetings until he retired from this role in 1996.
The Friends group grew out of the campaign to prevent the Gunnersbury stables being given away on a 99 year lease at a peppercorn rent to a property developer for conversion to offices. Like many at the time Ken was deeply cynical about this deal, which had been proposed between the local authority and a former Brentford footballer who ran a company in Hoddesdon. This developer later returned to Brentford with a scheme to fill in the Thames between The Waterman’s Arts Centre and the islands, for private housing.
Ken joined the Friends having built up a track record of community activity around Strand on the Green. He once spoke of his involvement in the re-design of the roads around the Kew Bridge approach (when the magnificent subterranean gents’ toilets were demolished) and the difficulty of exiting from Thames Road into fast traffic as a good example of a way to discourage rat-running. He continued his community activity in Brentford with long-term involvement in the Brentford Community Resource Centre (along with Joan Catterall, another founder member of the Friends).
A chemical engineer by profession and a long-term resident of Brentford Dock, he often signed himself to Friends and colleagues as “Ken of Brentford”. His sardonic humour enlivened our meetings. Even though it was hard work in the early years of the Friends, we remember him so much because he was always dissolving into laughter.
Over 100 people gathered for Ken’s funeral at Mortlake Crematorium on Thursday 18 February.
James Wisdom, Chairman