In Memory of Liveryman Phil Mead
A tribute to another remarkable member of the Plumbers’ family who we have lost recently, Liveryman Phil Mead. Without his unstinting support and contribution to the Plumbers’ Museum and Workshop Trust, it would not have achieved what it has.
12 August 1938 – 5 March 2021
Phil Mead was a friendly and approachable person with a big smile who greeted everyone with a firm handshake. He also was fun loving with a wonderful sense of humour. He could take the edge off a difficult situation with an appropriate witty comment, but as endearing and disarming as this was, there was far more to Phil than just that.
Phil at the Court Barn, Singleton with our past Assistant Clerk Eileen Lilley
Phil was very conscientious and resourceful in everything that he put his mind to. He was committed to whatever he was doing and worked hard to achieve the highest standard possible; the term “good enough”, was not in his vocabulary. If a job was worth doing it was worth doing to the very best of his ability. This is what he demanded from his students and later from his staff. He carried this principle into everything he attempted and this was key to his success.
Phil trained at Brighton College of Technology, where one of his lecturers was the late Cyril Graysmark, a Liveryman of the Plumbers’ Company, who ran his own reputable plumbing and heating business in Brighton. Cyril recognised his potential and offered him a job to complete his apprenticeship. He also became very influential in Phil’s life by starting him on the path to success. When Phil eventually left Cyril’s company he worked for Corralls Oil as a Service Engineer. Phil’s ambition was to teach plumbing and in 1965 he applied for and was selected as an Assistant Plumbing Lecturer at Chichester College. After 7 years he was in Charge of the Plumbing, Heating and Welding Department and in 1989 was selected as Head of Construction, a popular appointee from an impressive number of applicants.
Phil joined the Sussex Branch of the Registered Plumbers’ Association (RPA) in 1958, eventually becoming its Treasurer, then Secretary before being elected Branch President. In 1970 the RPA was assimilated into the Institute of Plumbing, now the Chartered Institute of Plumbing and Heating Engineering (CIPHE). He also joined the National Association of Plumbing Teachers (NAPT) and in 1976 he was asked to become its Secretary. In 1986 Phil was elected to the prestigious role of National President of NAPT.
His contribution to the Plumbing Museum and Workshop Trust (PMWT) was phenomenal and he was involved with it from the outset and before he joined the Plumbers’ Company. It is no exaggeration to say that without him it would not be the outstanding facility it is. He played a huge part in its initial setting up and eventual opening in the Court Barn at the Weald and Downland Museum at Singleton in 1980.
Phil on the left with (L to R) Past Steward John Carnaby and Liveryman John Bell and a large delivery of scrap lead to Singleton to melt down for casting
One of the volunteer demonstrators too, he made the following video with fellow volunteer and Liveryman Peter Cheesman to showcase the craft of lead casting:
Phil then oversaw the PMWT’s move to the Open Air Museum at Amberley in 2012, a total of over 40 years devoted service to the trust.
Phil at the official opening of the leadcraft workshop in the ‘Gin’ building at Amberley
Phil became a Liveryman of the Plumbers’ Company in 1985 and received a number of awards during his career in recognition of his outstanding work. In 1996 he was awarded the Copper Development Association Plumber of the Year Award and in 2006 he received the Plumbers’ Company coveted St Michael Medallion for his outstanding contribution to plumbing. In 2017 he then received the Leonard Hearsey Heritage Award for his dedicated and unstinting work at the Plumbing Museum Workshop Trust. The lead picture at the head of this tribute shows him receiving it at Vintners’ Hall. To be the recipient of one of these awards is special, but to get three is exceptional.
He was respected not only by his students, with whom he enjoyed a special rapport, but by all who knew him. He was a contributor to every organisation in which he was a member; Phil did not join something to see what he could get out of it, on the contrary, he gave his time, energy, expertise and experience for the benefit of everything in which he was involved. None more so than in 2011 when the WorldSkills final was held at the Expo Centre in London. Phil gave a huge amount of time to help then Master Chris Sneath to set up and run the plumbing exhibition and competition centre for students and school children.
Phil Mead with Liveryman Sylvia Moys MBE CC and school children “having a go” at the WorldSkills plumbing competition centre
Phil was a very caring and compassionate person who loved his family and always considered their needs. The other love of his life was rugby. A lifelong member of Bognor Rugby Club, he played at No 8 until he hung up his boots. He was also a stadium guide at Twickenham, eventually rising to become the head guide and tour organiser there. It is a measure of the esteem in which he was held that Owen Farrell, England’s rugby captain, called him in hospital in his last week and they enjoyed a long telephone conversation together. A remarkably courageous person which was clear from the way that he approached his final weeks and days.
That, was our dear friend Phil Mead who lived a busy and productive life and who enriched our lives. He will be sadly missed not only by Wendy his wife of 59 years and their children Alison and Colin and grandchildren, but also all of us who were fortunate to have known him. Phil’s funeral will be held at 1:00pm on 31 March 2021 and will be streamed live for those unable to attend due to the current restrictions. The log-on details are below:
I am most grateful to Past Masters Rodney Cartwright and Chris Sneath, Past Steward John Carnaby and in particular Phil’s close friend and colleague Liveryman Owen O’Neill, who provided most of this information, for their help in putting this tribute together.