A grandfather who turned his family plumbing business into one of the largest trade firms in the Heavy Woollen District has died.

Tom Brown, 86, was owner of PE Brown and Son and a former president of the Batley and Dewsbury Federation of Masters Plumbers.

Born in Soothill in 1927 to parents Percy and May Brown, Tom attended Gregory Street Junior School and then Batley Grammar School.

After leaving school at 16, he began working at his father’s plumbing firm which was established in 1932.

He worked his way up from the bottom, and proved himself an astute businessman.

By the 1960s, he turned Batley-based PE Brown and Son into one of the largest and most respected plumbing firms in the Heavy Woollen District.

Tom was elected president of the Batley and Dewsbury Federation of Masters Plumbers in recognition of his success, while his father was president of the Yorkshire Plumbers Federation.

He continued to work for the firm until recently, and had passed the reins on to his younger son, Chris.

Another of his sons, Nigel, said Tom was a true gentleman and a devoted family man who commanded respect and loyalty from staff and customers alike.

Away from work, Tom enjoyed playing and watching sport.

“For many years he played football for Old Batelians and cricket for Soothill,” Nigel said.

“He was a lifelong supporter of Batley Bulldogs RLFC and from the early 1960s he hardly missed the Rugby League Cup Final at Wembley for the next 35 years.”

Tom was also a former Sunday School teacher at Ebenezer Methodist Church in Hanging Heaton and a former member of Batley Round Table.

He leaves his wife, Thelma, who taught at Staincliffe School.

Nigel said: “They shared a long and happy marriage of nearly 62 years, spending all of their married life in the same house in Soothill Lane.”

Tom also leaves behind his sons, Nigel and Chris, and three granddaughters.

A funeral service was held at Dewsbury Moor Crematorium before Easter.

Nigel added: “The large attendance was a wonderful tribute to a man who will be sorely missed in the community.”