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Ashford historian and estate agent Richard Filmer dies, aged 70

by Kentish Express historian Steve Salter

Tributes are being paid in Ashford and around the country following the death of well-known and hugely respected historian, writer and estate agent Richard Filmer, who has lost his fight with cancer.

Mr Filmer had fought the disease for nearly two years but died last Friday evening at the Pilgrims Hospice in Hythe Road, Willesborough. He was 70.

He was the author of a number of books on the history of Ashford and was also a renowned and acknowledged authority on trades such as hop picking and brick and tile making and held a special interest in coopering – the construction of barrels.

The late Richard Filmer
The late Richard Filmer

He had written several books about these trades and had also written numerous high profile pieces for national bodies over the past 45 years.

Mr Filmer was an expert in his field and was also the vice-president of the Tools and Trades History Society. He had made research visits to cooperages across the world and was also a regular contributor to the magazine Period Home magazine in the 1970s and 80s.

He was born in 1946, grew up in Kennington and was educated at Ashford Grammar School.

In 1963 he joined one-time estate agent Scott Kendon and Ronald Pearce (latterly Scott and Kendon) at St Johns Chambers, 31 High Street, where he worked alongside Norman Kendon, John Rogers and at that time Ronald Pearce, eventually becoming a partner in the business.

The firm was bought by Halifax Estate Agents in 1988, and Mr Filmer, a fellow of the National Association of Estate Agents, played a huge part in making the branch one of the most successful in the town for a number of consecutive years.

Following a further amalgamation with Reeds Rains, another national estate agent, he left his working base of over 30 years to join friend Nigel Gould as partner at Gould Harrison Estate Agents in Middle Row.

He was able to bring his wealth of expertise and client base into the business where his successes continued. Mr Filmer had completed almost 54 years as an estate agent in the town at the time of his death.

The late Richard Filmer in the late 1980s
The late Richard Filmer in the late 1980s

An inspirational man, he earned widespread respect for his qualities, knowledge and expertise in the property world and over the decades has earned huge respect from all of the law firms and fellow agents in the town he dealt with. His colleagues at Gould Harrison have been left devastated by his passing.

A consummate professional, Mr Filmer built an instant rapport with his clients over the decades with many requesting his faultless service time and time again. He was also one of the founding members of Ashford Museum where he sat on the committee.

Mr Filmer was well-known across the country for his illustrated talks, where both his specialist knowledge and slide presentations were regularly sought after by local and national organisations.

Many friends and colleagues were astounded that Mr Filmer was working right up until his death. A kind, thoughtful and much loved man, he never liked to inconvenience anyone but was supported by friends and family to the end.

It was 33 years ago as a 10-year-old that I first met him after becoming interested in the history of Ashford.

He had always given me genuine encouragement and support and it was through his help that I have published several books about the history of the town, though out of my respect for him I would never cover nor replicate his work.

The late Richard Filmer in the mid 1960s
The late Richard Filmer in the mid 1960s

He fought tirelessly for the preservation of Ashford and despaired at the lack of pride when it came to the town’s heritage. I have lost a much loved best friend and a fellow historian, my mentor, someone that could put a smile on your face and someone that I will always have so much respect for.

He had a fantastic sense of humour, was immensely generous and was a special friend to all those who were lucky enough to meet him.

I will never ever forget the gratitude he showed me over the years and through the last few days of his life. He was a lovely, lovely man and the town and country have lost a unique gem.

Do you have any memories of Richard Filmer? If so write to Kentish Express, Unit 4, Park Mall shopping Centre, Ashford TN24 8RY or email kentishexpress@thekmgroup.co.uk

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