Sidney Kimber, possibly Southampton’s most influential and memorable local politician of the 20th century, was born in Southampton in 1873. The family lived at the newly-built house Roselands in Chaplin Street, Highfield. Sidney was educated at King Edward VI Grammar School, leaving at the age of 14 to work in his father’s brick making business in Highfield. After marrying Helen Sarah Walker in Manchester in 1898, the couple moved into a new house in Church Lane, Highfield, moving in 1908 to Oakdene in Welbeck Avenue, also in Highfield. In 1900, aged 27, he inherited the family business on the death of his father.
He joined the Conservative Party as a young man and was first elected to the council in 1910. He became an alderman in 1916 and sheriff in 1917. In November 1918, during the first of his two terms as mayor, he announced the end of World War One from the balcony of the Audit House on the High Street. He was mayor for the second time in 1919.
Although originally an unprogressive Conservative opposed to collective enterprise, he gradually came to believe in ‘municipalisation’. In the inter-war years he was the main driving force behind the construction of the Civic Centre, which was completed in 1937, and the Sports Centre, completed in 1938. He faced considerable opposition to both schemes, but saw them through with his characteristic determination and energy. He was awarded a knighthood in 1935 in recognition of his service to the town. He published his memoirs Thirty-Eight Years of Public Life in Southampton in 1949. He resigned from the council in 1948 and died the next year.
Thirty-Eight Years of Public Life in Southampton, by Sidney Kimber. (HS/t)
Southampton People, by John Edgar Mann, p62-63. (HS/t)
‘The Colossus of Kimber’, by John Edgar Mann, in Hampshire, Vol. 40, No. 5, March 2000, p47. (H/y)
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