Dilwyn (seated) selling postcards at a Preston Community Library event
(Photo: Chris Coates)
Dilwyn Chambers died last week. He was 88. Dilwyn was a familiar figure to many Brentonians who shared his interest in local history and local issues including the preservation of our heritage and our libraries – a real local character who popped up in the most unexpected of places.
Dilwyn was Secretary of the Wembley History Society in 1974, when Willesden Local History Society was started. He soon joined the Willesden group, and had been a loyal member ever since, tireless in his efforts to promote interest in our local history. Dilwyn had a wide range of interests and was a member of dozens of societies. He attended local community meetings on behalf of the group, always with a handful of WLHS programme leaflets to advertise its activities. Dilwyn always spoke his mind, and will be missed by many people in Willesden and Wembley.
These are some of the tributes by various members of Brent's two local history societies (Wembley and Willesden), Brent and community libraries, and Brent Museum and Archives.
'It is sad news indeed, as Dilwyn has been a big part of our community for a long time.'
'Very sad to hear of Dilwyn's passing. I had some great conversations with him, he had a vast knowledge. Please pass on my condolences.'
'I am so sorry to hear this news about Dilwyn. This is actually a shock to me. He was an irreplaceable member of WHS, and an often unfathomably challenging Brent Museum and Archives service user. And he will, for all his good qualities and general contrariness, be sorely missed.'
'What a great loss, he will be missed.'
'So sad to learn of Dilwyn’s departure. He was a presence in the local history society and community who made his mark on all who knew him over so many years. He kept me on the mark as chair of the Society, both in meetings and through an endless stream of beautifully-crafted letters containing info from other meetings he had attended (he went everywhere). Also, gentle criticism about what we should be doing, based on his time as an officer.'
'The [Brent] library team were saddened to hear of the death of Mr Chambers.'
'Dear Dilwyn ... too much to say now. My daughter who danced with Dilwyn at the dance centre above Burton's in Harrow 20+ years ago (photographic evidence is available!) is as distressed as I am.'
'Dilwyn had an encyclopaedic knowledge of subjects he found of interest. I remember him once talking to me about troops at the Battle of Prestonpans using a railway embankment for cover. I briefly considered the possibility that he had gone mad, but it turned out that he was correct, there was a railed 'waggonway' for horse-drawn wagons running to the coast that ran right across the middle of the battlefield, and troops did indeed use the feature for protection in 1745!'
'He was well-known in the Preston Community Library .... He will be remembered as a great supporter of Library events - especially Saturday night film evenings - and any party where an opportunity to jive was on offer!'
'I still have numerous interesting random pieces [Dilwyn] had passed on to Richard, with fitting messages attached.'
'Sorry to hear the passing of Dilwyn. Sad but not unexpected. Please give my condolences to his nephew when next in contact.'
'Thanks for letting me know about the sad loss of Dilwyn. He must have been the longest serving member of WHS. I joined in 1971 and he had been secretary for a few years before then. He was a member of numerous societies and made valuable contributions to them all. He often sent me photocopies of articles and pieces of ephemera in which I might be interested, very thoughtful and generous.'
'He was a great supporter of and a regular visitor to our [Barham] Community Library, and of course other local causes.'
'He was a very passionate man and really cared about heritage.'
Dilwyn Chambers (Old Brent Archives publicity image)
Two more tributes to Dilwyn Chambers from former members of Brent Archives staff (when the Archives were at Cricklewood Library, and at the "old" Willesden Green Library Centre).
'That’s so very sad but I’m glad at the end he was in good care and no doubt regaling his carers with many stories.
I’ll remember him fondly. He had an impish nature for sure but he always had the archives' best interests at heart and cared deeply for local history and most of the custodians of it.'
'Such sad news. Strangely, it’s hard not to think about the good times we had working together (many, many years ago) without thinking about Dilwyn.
Dilwyn was and forever will be part of the fabric of Brent Archives, despite the fact he was never an employee! Dilwyn will be missed but never forgotten. May his soul rest in perfect peace.'