Former Brent Mayor and Labour politician Len Snow dies

Len Snow has died at the age of 90

Len Snow has died at the age of 90 - Credit: Archant

A well known figure in local politics, Mr Snow moved into the borough at the age of eight and lived there until his death on Friday. He was the mayor for the borough from 1976 to 1977 and has penned a number of history books covering different parts of the borough. His daughter Sue Dorman has written an obituary in tribute of her father.

Leonard Nathanial Snow was born in the 1920s – earthquakes in Japan, prohibition in America, the Tories in power, Labour for the first time briefly – actually on 4th September 1923 in Highgate. When he was 8 years old the family moved to Willesden and he lived in what became Brent until his death.

Len went to Kilburn Grammar School, then to The Queen’s College, Oxford where his studies in English for a BA (Hons) Degree were “interrupted” by the war.

He met his wife Joan (from the “rival” Willesden County School) in 1939 when they were both evacuated to Northampton and from there their romance led to marriage in 1943.

War service took Len first to the Mediterranean and Italy from where he returned to England to train to become an officer – one of the youngest Captains in the British Army. He finished the war in India – just as the conflict itself was finishing, then spent a year and a half in Japan as part of the British Occupation forces. While there he visited Tokyo and Hiroshima – seeing the effects of one atom bomb, which led to his becoming a convinced anti-nuclear-bomb supporter.

He returned to England in March 1947 and completed his Degree course in 1948, becoming an MA (Oxon). The family came along, Susan in 1948 and Ralph in 1951, and he started work with British Road services, in personnel – the profession he followed till his retirement. When the Conservatives privatised British Road services, he moved to BEA (British European Airways) at Northolt and then to Heathrow Airport where it became British Airways (BA) in 1972, finally retiring in 1982.

After the war, though, he saw that the only way forward for working people to succeed in obtaining what society should provide for them was through the Labour Party and on returning home for demob, he joined Manor Ward of the then Willesden West Labour Party, where Joan was already a member. When they moved to Wembley in 1951, he did not immediately rejoin the Party; but, with the 1955 election, he felt he had to come back into some activity. As often happens, he quickly became Ward Secretary, then a Council candidate – three times, though unsuccessfully at that time. He stood for Tokyngton in 1963, in the dying years of the old Wembley Council and was elected – thus beginning 27 year of service in Local Government. In the 1964 elections to the new Brent Councils, although Labour won handsomely, the electors of Tokyngton were not so perceptive, but his fellow Councillors chose him as one of the then Aldermen. He was also the first Chair of the Brent Local Government Committee which was formed in 1963 to prepare the way for the new Council.

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Len was elected Mayor of Brent in 1976 and, having joined the London Labour Mayors’ Association, subsequently became its Secretary in 1994. He remained a school Governor, being particularly linked with Copland School, where he was Chair for over 20 years until 1998.

Apart from theatre, film and, of course, his family, Len’s major passion was always politics, and especially education. He became Vice-Chair of Education in 1967 – helping to bring in comprehensive secondary education – and became a school governor in 1968 under the old Middlesex County Council; in 1971, when Labour regained control of the Council, he became Chair of Education, holding the post, off and on, over eight years. He was also elected as a Councillor for his own ward of Wembley Central and stayed, being re-elected four times, until he retired in 1990.

He started an interest in local history during his Mayoral year and this led him to producing several local history books, covering Brent, Willesden, Queens Park, Kenton & Kingsbury and Willesden & Wembley, as well one on Copland School and one on Willesden Hospital. He was working on two others at the time of his death: Watling Street and Paddington Green to Willesden Green.

Len Snow (September, 4, 1923 - November 1, 2013), leaves behind his widow Joan, daughter Sue Dorman, son Ralph Snow and two grandsons.