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Great friend of Bermuda National Museum dies

A Royal Navy enthusiast who donated thousands of photographs and two model ships to the Bermuda’s National Museum has died.

Originally from the UK, Kenneth Kelly served with the Royal Navy following the end of the Second World War.

After completing his national service he became an advertising executive and, in 1956, settled in New York, where he learned that Britain was shutting down its “North America and West Indies Station” as Bermuda’s Royal Navy base was then known.

In a 2007 interview with the

Mid-Ocean News, Mr Kelly explained that he then decided to put together a photographic history of the Royal Navy’s time on the Island. Almost half a century later, that collection had grown to include some 4,000 photographs as well as a pair of model ships that had docked in Bermuda.

The main collection covers the period from First World World War, but there are also earlier pictures dating back as far as 1863. And although Mr Kelly originally focused on Bermuda-based ships, the scope of his collection expanded to include ships in North and South America, the West Indies, Hawaii, and Commonwealth ships. He also collected memorabilia of important naval occasions.

Mr Kelly’s hobby involved writing to retired commanding officers for information. He also contacted newspapers in North America for file photographs.

“In my job I used to travel around the country, so I used to visit museums, newspapers and libraries in places with a seaport and bought, or was given a lot of pictures,” Mr Kelly said.

In 1994 he donated his collection to Bermuda’s National Museum, visiting the Island and meeting the Queen in the process. He was later made a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire.

National Museum director Ed Harris expressed sadness at the news of Mr Kelly’s death.

“Ken Kelly first came to Bermuda in the early 1950s on a Royal Navy ship and fell in love with the place,” Dr Harris said.

“In his subsequent life in the United States, during which he maintained his British citizenship, he collected over 2,500 photographs of Royal Navy ships on the Bermuda Station or associated with the station. He donated the Ken Kelly Collection to the Museum in 1994 on the occasion of the visit of Her Majesty The Queen to the Commissioner’s House.

“For over 25 years, Ken chased two magnificent models of the Royal Navy warships, HMS

Carysfort and HMS

Grenville and finally obtained them to donate to the museum and Bermuda. They are two of only six such models ever made.

“In addition to his generosity to Bermuda, Ken found and had restored the last two known trucks that carried barrage balloons, which were flown from the back of the trucks at heights to form a barrier to German bombers approaching British cities. For all his heritage endeavours, Kenneth was awarded a MBE, which he accepted from Her Majesty at Buckingham Palace.”

“Mr Kelly had many friends in Bermuda and will be missed by all.”

Mr Kelly is survived by his wife Harriet and children Brenda and Geoffrey.

The late Kenneth Kelly: Friend of Bermuda National Musem

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Published May 06, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated May 05, 2013 at 6:16 pm)

Great friend of Bermuda National Museum dies

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