Tributes paid to Ron Mein – local historian and prolific fundraiser

Ron Mein pictured inside the Lakeland Motor Museum

Tributes have been paid to local historian and keen fundraiser Ron Mein who has died at the age of 82.

The former mill worker was instrumental in designing the many industrial history displays at the Lakeland Motor Museum which is built around part of the historic mill in which he worked as a young man.

Ron Mein at the Lakeland Motor Museum and pictured with his future wife Dot in 1958

Pictured: Ron Mein pictured with his future wife Dot in 1958

One of his proudest achievements was assisting with the Museum’s World War One commemorative display which raises funds for the Royal British Legion. Since it was set up in 2014 it has raised well over £12,000.

Chris Lowe, Curator at the Lakeland Motor Museum, says: “We are deeply saddened to hear the news about Ron. His long involvement with the museum helped shape its development and is a testament to his knowledge and passion for the area’s industrial heritage.

The World War I display on the first floor of the museum

“The museum houses the Leven Valley Heritage Centre which he was instrumental in researching and creating. It depicts how life used to be in the Backbarrow Blue Mill and the valley’s iron works, gunpowder factories and woodland industries. Ron wrote all the information, supplied the many pictures and created the displays inside the windows.”

The Lakeland Motor Museum’s main showroom is built around what used to be the carton filling and wrapping department of Backbarrow’s famous “Dolly Blue” mill complex where Ron started working in 1955 as a fifteen-year-old.

He spoke fondly of his time at the mill most particularly because it was where he first met a young woman called Dot who would later become his wife.

Ron Mein cuts the first sod as development starts on the Lakeland Motor Museum's new home in 2008 Pictured with Chris Lowe (Left) and Edwin Maher (Right)

Pictured: Ron Mein cuts the first sod as development starts on the Lakeland Motor Museum's new home in 2008 Pictured with Chris Lowe (Left) and Edwin Maher (Right)

Ron worked at the factory for 15 years but his link to the place never ended. The works closed down in 1982 and over the years he photographed the old buildings to create a historic record of the valley’s industrial history.

Ron’s knowledge was put to good use when it was earmarked as the new site for the Lakeland Motor Museum. He used his artistic talents to paint backdrops for various displays in the museum which often featured accurately portrayed local buildings for authenticity.

“He was particularly proud of his work on our World War One display,” explains Chris Lowe. “It helps raise funds every year for the Royal British Legion of which Ron was a great supporter.

“With this year’s Royal British Legion Poppy Appeal starting later this month we will again, in Ron’s memory, be attempting to raise as much money as possible for the charity.”

Ron’s research and writing can also been seen in the Museum’s guidebook. He also published local history booklets and DVDs which were sold in aid of the Royal British Legion.

A recent photograph of Ron Mein

For many years he gave Local History talks to guests at the nearby Whitewater Hotel & Lakeland Village timeshare – again in aid of the Royal British Legion.

He also worked as a builder and at the pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline.

He was in the Royal Observer Corps for nearly 20 years, rising to Group Officer and he was both a local and Cumbria County Councillor.

Ron died peacfully at Furness General Hospital on October 5. He’s survived by his wife Dot and their son John and daughter in law Ruth. He was a much-loved grandad to Laura, Jack and Joe.

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