Friday, 4 March 2011

Bill Leathwood one of the last Liberal going back to 1930's dies

TRIBUTES have been paid to veteran Runcorn politician, magistrate and historian, Bill Leathwood who has died, aged 92. writes the Runcorn and Widnes World

Mr Leathwood was a member of the Liberal party since the 1930s and became a Cheshire County Councillor when he was 68.

He served in the Merchant Navy during the war and founded Runcorn Historical Society with Bert Starkey.

He was an organist and lay preacher at Vista Road Methodist Church.

Heath Lib Dem Clr Mike Hodgkinson, said: “Bill was in his element talking to people.

“He brought the same energy and enthusiasm to the job of county councillor as he had showed during the election campaign.

“He was held in respect and affection by members of all parties.

“He was also deputy Lord Lieutanant of Cheshrie and enjoyed the honour of undertaking this role.

“He loved Runcorn and was passionately interested in history.”

Mr Leathwood was elected three times and rose to become chairman of Cheshire County Council, serving until Halton became a unitary authority.

I knew Bill when we served together on Cheshire County Council. He was our Chief whip. He was extraordinarily polite towards the motley crew that made up the small Liberal crew that held the balance of power on that Authority. During his first term of office he helped forge the deal that deprived the Tories of control for the first time since 1888!

Bill was always immaculately turned out and I remember at one budget meeting he turned out complete with wing collar and bow tie-mind you they were an eccentric lot on Cheshire County Council there was a Tory with a monocle!

We all had great respect and affection for Bill and certainly learned a lot from him. We often talked about the history of the Liberals in Cheshire going back to the times of John Brunner whose son was the Liberal MP in Southport in 1923. I still have a copy of the Liberal song book that Bill gave me that had belonged to his father at the turn of the C20th. It was published with thanks to the Congregational Church Hymnal. Bill was a great Methodist and features in this story on the blog

He was often described as one of natures 'gentlemen'. He lived a good life to the full. Those of us who knew him were privileged to have done so.

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