Friends pay tribute to former Mayor of Wirral and long-serving Birkenhead councillor Arthur Smith after his death at the age of 79
TRIBUTES have been paid after the death of a long-serving Merseyside councillor and former mayor.
Arthur Smith, 79, who was Mayor of Wirral from 1987-88, passed away earlier this month.
Friends described him as a “stalwart” of the Labour party in Wirral and said he maintained an interest in the borough’s politics right up until his death.
Mr Smith was a Labour councillor for Holt ward when it was part of the county borough of Birkenhead from 1962 to 1974.
After the formation of Wirral council in 1974, he became a councillor for what was known as number one ward until 1980 and represented Birkenhead ward from 1981 to 1991.
Bebington councillor Walter Smith, a close friend of Mr Smith, said: “Arthur was a real stalwart of Labour in Wirral and he was a great servant of the party.
“He had a great sense of humour. He gave very generously to things and liked to show his support locally.
“In the last few years he suffered with his health but his mind was still as sharp as anything. He was a very intelligent man.
“He used to ring me at work to ask me what was going on in the political world.”
Mr Smith said his friend, a former pupil of Birkenhead Institute, was a former Co-op insurance man and also worked for the Inland Revenue.
He was posted to the Intelligence Corps during a spell in the Army during World War II – the only time he lived away from Wirral.
Mr Smith, who was not married, lived in Elm Grove, Birkenhead in a house once occupied by war poet Wilfred Owen and his family.
He was proud of the connection and spent many years researching Owen's early life.
In 2001 he told the ECHO of his delight when English Heritage agreed to place one of its famous blue plaques outside his home.
He had lived there since 1941 and was born in the house next door.
Wirral Council heritage champion Cllr Jerry Williams said: “Arthur had a love of local history and he was greatly interested in the connection with Wilfred Owen.
“He was a great source of information about Wirral and he was revered by everyone.”
Dean Johnson, founder of the Wilfred Owen Story museum in Birkenhead, said he was saddened he had been unable to speak to Mr Smith about his knowledge of Wilfred Owen before his death.
Mr Smith’s funeral will take place at Landican Cemetery on March 21 at 1pm.