Tributes to steam society founder

George Coleman
George Coleman

A FOUNDER of the Brede Steam Engine Society, authority on the history of waterworks in the area, and active member of the community, George Coleman will be missed by many.

George Coleman, who died aged 91 on August 10, had lived in St Helen’s Park Road, until poor health caused him to move to Eastbourne three years ago.

Born and raised in the town centre, he began work at the cemetery and then the Borough and Water Engineers Department, before being called for military service in 1939, where he served in the Royal Engineers.

A strong leader, after returning to work in 1946 he became the Departmental Representative for the workers’ union NALGO, and later, its president. He was also heavily involved with the local Labour Party.

In 1945 he married Vivienne, whom he outlived by 10 years, and became a great-grandfather of three.

He is described by his daughter Maggie Greatorex, 64, as being a great believer in community, always helping out. He was a volunteer driver for Meals on Wheels for the WRVS.

George worked for the Borough and Water Engineers Department and then Southern Water, until taking early retirement in 1977.

Throughout his career he amassed a huge archive of documents of local historical significance, particularly relating to waterworks in the area, and wrote extensively on the subject.

Publications included Home of the Steam Giants at Brede Valley Waterworks, and Corporation Workmen: Hastings Council Employees in Bygone Years.

In 1994, George was one of the founding members, and later patron, of the Brede Steam Engine Society, a group committed to the restoration of heritage water pumping engines and artefacts based at the Brede Waterworks, near Rye.