Reminiscences of Alderman Charles Robert Keene

Scope and Content

Photocopied extracts from a typescript of the "Reminiscences" of Alderman Charles Keene. The copied chapters focus on the years 1926 to 1939 and 1945 to 1953. They include information relating to Keene's role as Chairman of the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology, as well as other aspects of the governance of Leicester such as town planning and development, municipal housing schemes, museums and libraries, transport, council politics and elections, public health and welfare, and public finances.

Administrative / Biographical History

Charles Robert Keene was born on the 21st September 1891, one of twelve children born to Charles and Emma Keene. The family moved to Leicester in 1899 where Charles senior set up businesses in box manufacturing, die stamping and the Mutual Clothing and Supply Company, a credit finance company.

Charles junior left school at fourteen and worked for his father. From 1910 he became a preacher at the Methodist church attended by the family, in line with his ambition to train as a Methodist minister. However, in 1914 he joined the Royal Army Medical Corps and served on hospital ships in the Mediterranean throughout the First World War. On his return he became the managing director of the Mutual Clothing and Supply Company and of Kingstone Limited.

He was elected to the Leicester City Council as Labour member for Charnwood Ward in 1926, becoming Alderman in 1945 and serving as Mayor in 1953. As a councillor his main interests were education, culture and town planning. He was Chairman of the Education Committee from 1938 to 1946 and again from 1953 to 1961; a Governor of the Gateway School from 1928 and served as Senior Pro Vice Chancellor of Leicester University.

Charles Keene was Chairman of the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology from 1927 to 1969, when he became the first Chair of Leicester Polytechnic. This long service was recognised in 1961 when Charles Keene College was named in his honour. He retired as Chair of the Polytechnic in 1971 after 44 years of service. An annual event, the Sir Charles Keene Lecture, was founded at the Polytechnic in 1974.

Keene was made CBE in 1950 and knighted in the birthday honours list of June 1969. He was married to Ruth Stocks in 1921 and had three sons, Robert, David and Michael. Ruth died in 1949 and he opened the Ruth Keene Memorial Gardens in her memory. He married Hetty Swann in 1952. Charles Keene died of a stroke on 26th July 1977, aged 85.


D/018 is divided into two files, one covering 1926-1939 and the other covering 1945-1953.

Access Information

Available for general access. External researchers are advised to make an appointment with the Archivist.

Acquisition Information

These papers belonged to Arthur Martin, Registrar at the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology, and were forwarded to the Archive by his daughter in 2008.

Archivist's Note

Catalogued by Katharine Short, Archivist, April 2013.

Related Material

Further information relating to Charles Keene's relationship with the Leicester Colleges of Art and Technology / Leicester Polytechnic can be found in the Committee minutes, press cuttings albums and papers relating to the opening of Charles Keene College.