Brian James Howell
Born in Erith in 1938, brought up in Dartford the youngest of three boys, his brothers were Collin and Roy. Brian was a grandson of the infamous Erith bargee Robert ‘The Devil’ Austin.
Attended art school from 1955 until 1958 at Gravesend initially and then at Canterbury School of Art where he qualified as a Silversmith in 1958. A career in art and silversmithing was delayed by National Service in the Royal Engineers where he served, following initial training, in the BAOR. His army service provided him with training in electronics as a signalman technician and also taught him to drive HGVs.
He used his HGV qualifications, following departure from National Service, to earn his living, as a long distance lorry driver although he did spend many years driving and operating large mobile cranes for West Street Hire, based in Gravesend.
Following the death of his mum Violet in 1985, he moved from Dartford to live at his brother Roy’s house in Cliffe Woods and then in March 1986, following his brother Roy’s death, moved to Margate to help his sister in law Gwen , nephew Richard and niece Carolyn in their pub the Quart in a Pint Pot.
From 1988 – 1993 he moved to Northfleet and resumed a career as a HGV driver with the COOP dairy. In 1993 redundancy brought him back to Margate where he lived in his house at Fort Mount. In November 1995 he moved to Birchington to live with his nephew and niece again. That family unit moved to Westbrook, Margate, in May 2002 and then finally Brian moved to his last address in Millmead Road in August 2009 where he remained until his death. He was happy for those last years, living with his cat ‘Spot, receiving visits from his lifelong friends Roy and Sheila.
Brian was a talented artist as well as being an accomplished silversmith. He designed and crafted silverware for use in Canterbury Cathedral . He was a gifted cabinet maker and model ship builder. His DIY skills were of the very highest order and he was in great demand to assist with decorating projects and furniture making.
He was also a competent pianist and though self-taught could sight read musical notation. His natural shyness precluded him from ever playing in public, his audiences always consisted of family members, close friends and the cat.
Brian never married but did have did have a long lasting relationship with Iris.
Brian was hospitalised in QEQM on February 1st and was transferred to a nursing home under the care of the hospice palliative team on February 17th. He died in Shottendane nursing home at 0545 on Monday the 20th of March following a short but brave battle against bladder cancer which had returned following a previously successful battle in 1998. He was 78 and much loved by his nephews Richard and Martin and niece Carolyn.