I’m sad to share the tragic news with readers that Ron Hawkins, a true son of Walsall and a genuine ambassador for our town and it’s leather trade sadly passed away on March 31st, 2017.
Many readers will know Ron as I did for his kind, gentle and dedicated work as a demonstrator of the trade he was master of at Walsall Leather Museum; a well spoken, neat and charming man, Ron was a great example of Walsall and it’s historic manufacturing skills.
Ron always made time for individual questions and was particularly great with kids. I was personally very impressed by Ron whenever I met him and his passing will be felt deeply, not just at the Leather Museum, but in the hearts of people who learned about leather and Walsall from him.
My condolences to Ron’s family and friends. We’ve lost a very kind hearted and dedicated man.
Walsall Leather Museum posted on their Facebook page yesterday:
We Love Walsall Leather Museum
Tuesday 11th April at 19:12
Ron Hawkins 1925 – 2017
We are really sad to announce that Ron Hawkins, demonstrator and well known volunteer at Walsall Leather Museum for nearly 30 years has sadly died at the age of 91.
He was born in Walsall in 1925 and began working in the leather trade as a currier at E.T. Holden in Park Street in February 1940. After starting in the warehousing department, he quickly showed an aptitude for learning about the craft and became an apprentice.
Eventually he was called up and joined the RAF and became a high speed telegrapher. During this time he flew with trainee pilots and had some hair-raising escapes. Ron was immensely proud of his time in the Forces and often talked of his experiences in later years. Like many ex-RAF men, he was always impeccably turned out, with shoes beautifully polished and never a hair out of place.
After the war had ended, Ron returned to Holden’s and completed his training to become a master currier and Assistant Manager until the firm relocated to Scotland. Whilst Holden’s were keen for Ron to go with them, he and his wife Muriel and his children Tony and Diane decided to remain in Walsall. Many other local curriers were keen to secure his skills and finally Ron decided to work at J & E Sedgwick in Reservoir Place where he remained until his retirement.
Never one to enjoy being bored, Ron quickly found a way to channel his enthusiasm for his trade by volunteering at the newly opened Leather Museum. He quickly became the face of the attraction and was known and loved by visitors from all over the world. His knowledge was legendary and he loved to entertain people with his fabulous stories of life in a leather factory as a 14 year old. Children were wide-eyed when he reached into his pocket to pull a few coins out of his pocket to show them his first week’s wages. He remained a loyal and enthusiastic volunteer until just after his 90th birthday when he finally hung up his famous white coat and called a day on his 77 year career in the leather trade.
Ron’s death on the 31st March marks the end of an era for a man who came to represent Walsall and its proud leatherworking history. He will be missed by staff and visitors alike.