Shropshire Star

'Unfailing effort and devotion': Tributes to founder of transport museum, who has died at 76

A well-known historian and author who founded a popular transport museum has died, aged 76.

Alec Brew with the original gas lamp which stood outside Tettenhall railway station

Alec Brew, who founded the Tettenhall Transport Heritage Centre at the village's old railway station, has died after a short illness.

Mr Brew wrote more than 30 books on the technical achievements and historic buildings of Wolverhampton, the Black Country, Shropshire and Staffordshire. Among them were a book marking 300 years of Molineux, another about the airfields of Staffordshire, and more recently his book Wolverhampton Through Time, which featured 'then and now' pictures on how the city has changed.

Alec Brew with a bike used by Sir Edward Elgar to cycle to Wolves matches

He also wrote regular history features for the Express & Star and its sister paper, the Wolverhampton Chronicle, including the weekly Memory Lane column.

Mr Brew was also a founder member of the Boulton Paul Association, set up to celebrate Wolverhampton's aircraft heritage, and was well known for his history talks, heritage walks and canal tours.

Mr Brew's step-daughter Hannah Landman said that following his retirement Mr Brew dedicated his life to promoting the history of Wolverhampton and the surrounding areas.

Alec Brew with a Austin Seven 'Chummy' pedal car, the same as the one featured in the television show Brum

Just three weeks before his death, Mr Brew was in Uganda searching for planes which had been lost beneath a lake.

In 2014 he began creating a museum in the former goods storage building at the old Tettenhall railway station.

Early exhibits included a Boulton Paul gun turret, an Air Training Corps glider and a microlight aircraft.

Ready for take off, Alec Brew preparing to re-open Tettenhall Transport Heritage Centre after lockdown

The museum, now a popular attraction, began with 24 volunteers and was initially only open for special events.

At the time, the building was in need of major repair, and Mr Brew and his fellow volunteers spent hours bringing it in to a habitable condition.

Hannah said: "After retirement, Alec was able to fully turn his attention, with unfailing effort and devotion, to the preservation and promotion of the heritage of Wolverhampton, with transport as a particular focus.

Alec Brew, centre, replacing the windows at Tettenhall Transport Heritage Centre

"For the last decade, under Alec's guidance, the Heritage Centre has grown to become a successful visitor attraction, where he delighted in sharing his historical fervour.

"Alec is loved immeasurably and will be remembered by his family and friends in different ways; a quiet, steadfast, wry, dry, allotmenteer, local historian and old aeroplane fanatic, and as an adventurer who just three weeks ago was searching for lost Second World War planes on Lake Victoria in Uganda, and at age 76, grade V white water rafting on the River Nile with his son."

Younger brother Peter remembered Mr Brew as somebody with a clear idea of what he wanted to achieve, and a dogged determination to see it through.

Alec Brew with jigsaws, a laundry box, Colombian machetes, a Craven A clock and radio donated to the museum

"I can never remember any time he lost his temper or got in a rage nor used bad language," he said.

"I will always remember him as a quiet gentleman."

Alec Brew grew up in Oaken and Codsall, was educated at Brewood Grammar School.

Alec Brew, curator at Tettenhall Transport Heritage Centre, with a 1/4 scale model of a Wolverhampton built Boulton Paul Defiant night fighter

He began work with Sir Alfred McAlpine & Son in Wolverhampton, where he worked as a a timekeeper and time study manager.

"He always expressed a desire to never work a nine-to-five job, so when an opportunity to work abroad with George Wimpey construction appeared he jumped at it with open arms," said Hannah.

His work saw him travel to Oman, Saudi Arabia and Nigeria.

Alec Brew with his book about the history of Molineux

When this work dried up, he became a milkman with Midland Counties, which Hannah joked was a five-to-nine job.

"His final job role, which he really enjoyed, was delivering bottled water around the Midlands for Wolverhampton based Angel Springs, now Water Logic, where he is fondly remembered there by those who knew him."

Fellow volunteer Peter Stant, a close friend of Mr Brew, said: "Alec never boasted about any of his many achievements and unless prompted would rarely mention his own history, concentrating solely of promoting Wolverhampton's past triumphs."

Mr Brew died at New Cross Hospital on February 9. He was pre-deceased by his partner, Wendy, and leaves behind his son Joey and step-daughters Rachel and Hannah.

His funeral will be held March 15 in the West Chapel at Bushbury Crematorium, starting 10.30am, and people are invited to celebrate his life. Donations will be made to Tettenhall Transport Heritage Centre.