At Coventry Society’s AGM, held this year at the Anglican Chapel at London Road Cemetery, the Society awarded Life Membership to its long serving member and Treasurer Colin Walker. This is the commendation.
It isn’t difficult to find information about Colin, as he has written his autobiography and its available on the Internet on a site called “Colin’s Cornucopia”.
There are three things to say about Colin.
Firstly, he is a proud Coventrian
Secondly, he is an engineer through and through.
And thirdly he is a community activist.
Colin was born in Coventry three months after the start of the Second World War. He spent his early years in the city and when things got hot was taken to his mother’s family in the West Riding of Yorkshire.
Colin’s family had owned a small engineering firm for several generations and from the age of 13 Colin would help out in at weekends and school holidays. Colin did his apprenticeship there and later worked for larger aerospace firms in and around the city.
But Colin got itchy feet and decided to emigrate to Canada, where he worked on the development of a high-speed hydrofoil, solving the engineering problems associated with this. It was the fastest unarmed warship in the world at the time.
Colin enjoyed the business culture in Canada, which stood in stark contrast to the hierarchical approach in the UK.
After seven years in Canada, Colin decided to move back to Coventry and with his brother took over and rejuvenated his father’s ailing company. This was very productive for some time, but later suffered decline along with the rest of the city’s engineering firms.
One of Colin’s hobby projects was the restoration of his house in Spon End. He spent 40 years on this, doing most of the work himself.
Colin took up community work in Spon End where he lived at that time. Initially with a local resident’s group but he later became the Chair of the Spon End Forum, bringing together a wide range of community organisations in the area, working with the Council’s Area Co-ordination Team, where he was highly respected and valued.
Phil Dunn, the Area Co-ordinator at the time, says “I have great respect for the work he did and the energy and personal commitment he invested, against his “better judgement”, in trying to secure a “renaissance” for Soon End based on far sighted environment; principles and incredible knowledge and insight to the history of the area.”
Colin was instrumental in bringing the Cooperative Development Agency into the area and was responsible for recreating the historic Spon End Wakes Festival.
His work with the Spon End Building Preservation Trust, now known as the Weaver’s House and Moira’s Wet Fish Shop was perhaps his lasting legacy for the city. Colin was Trust Secretary and Project Manager for Phase I and Phase II of the restoration and a remarkable success it has been.
Colin was recruited to the Coventry Society by Keith Draper after he re-founded the organisation. Keith tells us that he happened by chance to meet Colin at the Earlsdon Festival in the early 2000s. At the time Colin was very involved with the Spon End Neighbourhood group.
Colin was Vice Chair of the Society and in about 2007 he also took over as Treasurer as well – using his organisational skills as an engineer to create one of the most complicated Excel spreadsheets known to man – but amazingly it worked! Keith says that Colin was always ready to pitch in and help on projects!
Keith tells us that Colin has shown himself to be a verbose letter writer, taking up a number of local and national causes. In recent years has become something of an expert in building off the grid electrics in the walled garden at Allesley Park.
So, we are extremely grateful for the contribution that Colin Walker has made to the Coventry Society and in acknowledgement of this and Colin’s contribution to engineering and his local community, we wish to acknowledge that contribution in the only way available to us, which is to award Colin Life Membership of the Coventry Society.