Leslie Silver

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Leslie Silver
Born 1925
Occupation Businessman (retired)
Spouse(s) Anita married 1946 died 1983 .Sheila married 1984 died 2013

Leslie Howard Silver, OBE, born London 1925, was chairman of Leeds United football club and chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University.

Silver's family moved to Leeds in 1940 and in 1943 he joined the RAF, for the remainder of the war serving operationally in Europe and the Far East.

He was the founder of Silver Paint and Lacquer, later known as Kalon Group PLC, from which he retired in 1991.

War service[edit]

Silver volunteered for the RAF in 1943 at the age of 17.[1] After training as aircrew, he joined Bomber Command in February 1944 as a flight engineer. He flew the full quota of 250 operational hours with 138, 161, 291 and 356 Squadrons, consisting of more than 40 operations in Europe and 20 in the Far East. In the Far East, missions included dropping supplies into Changi gaol.[1][2] Silver left the RAF in 1947, aged 22. In 2013, at the age of 88, he was awarded the Bomber Command Clasp.[1][3]


After the war Silver returned to Leeds and went into business, laying the foundation for his life’s work, the highly successful Leyland Paints company, which began in 1947 as the Silver Paint and Lacquer Company Limited.[4]

Silver founded the Silver Paint and Lacquer Co.—SPL, as it became known—in 1947 when he left the RAF. Using his gratuity and a loan, Silver manufactured nitrocellulose thinners, mainly for the car industry.

In the 1950s the product range was extended to include decorative paint products.

Initially SPL was based in Leeds, but by the 1960s the factory lacked sufficient space and in 1963 moved to larger premises in Batley. In 1976 and 1981 respectively the company took over the Leeds Paint Manufacturing Company and Bestobell Paints. In 1982 the company was renamed Kalon. The word is derived from Greek and means "for the greater good".

In 1982 Leslie was awarded the Order of the British Empire and named Yorkshire Businessman of the Year in 1983. During his long service in the paint industry, he held national office as:

  • President of the Oil and Colour Chemists Association (1973-5)
  • President of the Paint Industries Club (1978-9)
  • President of the Paintmakers Association of Great Britain Limited (1979–80)
  • President of the Paint Research Association (1981-2)

It was the first time any one individual had served as president of the four associations relating to the surface coating industry.

In 1983 the company moved again, this time from Batley to the much larger (and current) premises off Huddersfield Road in Birstall. In 1985, Kalon acquired Leyland Paints. The reverse takeover led to the flotation of Kalon on the London Stock Exchange and the formation of Kalon Group PLC.

Since June 1998, Silver has been a director of Fifth Argyll Ltd., a Harrogate-based property company.


Silver joined the board of Leeds United A.F.C. in 1981, becoming chairman in 1983, a post he held until 1996.

During his time as chairman of Leeds United, the club won promotion from the Second to the First Division - now known as the Premier League - and won the top-flight league title in 1992. Leeds United remain the last team to win the top flight English football title with an English manager, Howard Wilkinson.

Silver keeps his hand in as President of Harrogate Football Club and Honorary President of amateur club Garforth A.F.C. In addition to his support of the University over more than twenty years, Leslie is an active patron of many other charities.

Leeds Metropolitan University[edit]

In 1988, Silver was invited to chair a formation committee of the then Leeds Polytechnic, subsequently becoming Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Polytechnic, which is now Leeds Metropolitan University. It was a great honour to the University when, on 1 January 1999, Leslie became the first Chancellor. He resigned early 2005. A faculty in the university is currently named after him.

See also[edit]

Leeds United A.F.C.


  1. ^ a b c Robinson, Paul. "Ex-Leeds United chairman’s WW2 honour". YEP. Archived from the original on 2013-09-24. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  2. ^ "A Report of Civilians in Changi Jail". Archived from the original on 2013-09-24. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  3. ^ "Arctic Star and Bomber Command Clasp". Archived from the original on 2013-09-24. Retrieved 24 September 2013. 
  4. ^ "Silver Paint and Lacquer factory". Archived from the original on 2013-09-26. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 

External links[edit]

Sporting positions
Preceded by
Manny Cussins
Leeds United chairman
Succeeded by
Bill Fotherby