Museum of Richmond founder John Cloake has died, aged 89

Museum of Richmond founder has died, aged 89

John Cloake: Served the borough for many years

John Cloake: Served the borough for many years

First published in News This Is Local London: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter

The founder of the Museum of Richmond and influential historian has died.

John Cloake, a former diplomat who set up the museum in the 80s, died on July 9 aged 89.

The historian rallied together a group of interested people and loaned the museum £20,000 to get it off the ground.

Designed by Robin Wade, museum designer of projects such as the Egyptian gallery at the British Museum, the Museum of Richmond was located in the Old Town Hall, in council premises that became part of the 1987 Riverside Development, where it still sits today, in the centre of the history it reflects.

The museum was officially opened by the Queen in October 1988 and Mr Cloake became the first chairman of the board of trustees and put all his energy into creating a museum where Richmond’s past could be communicated through its collections and exhibitions.

Valerie Boyes, trustee of the museum, said: "Without John Cloake there would have been no Museum of Richmond.

"The local community has much to thank him for and he will be sorely missed."

Mr Cloake, who was also a president of the Richmond Local History Society, discovered his love of history while at school near his home in Wimbledon.

After army service he studied a history degree at Cambridge and joined the diplomatic service, before he retired in 1980.

He bought his first house in Richmond with his wife Molli in 1963 and kept a keen interest in history - which led him to publish several books, including two volumes of the Palaces and Parks of Richmond and Kew as well as popular history book Richmond Past.

Fellow historian David Blomfield said: "Richmond is infinitely the richer for the love John Cloake lavished on its history.

"He has left a formidable body of internationally respected work, but he also leaves generations of amateur historians inspired by the generosity with which he shared the fruits of his research. It is a legacy to be treasured."

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