Burnley Express chief photographer Keith dies

Keith Snowden
Keith Snowden

FRIENDS, family and former colleagues said goodbye to one of the most recognisable faces in Burnley - yet a man who was always at the other side of the camera lens.

He was the Burnley Express’s former chief photographer Keith Snowden who died last week aged 78 and at his funeral service on Tuesday was described as “truly a man of many parts” due to his numerous interests and accomplishments.

Keith had been at the Express from 1958 to his retirement in 1994 – 21 years as chief photographer – and during those years made many friends and acquaintances around the town as he went about his business recording the news and events for posterity.

One former mayor of Burnley, Ald. John Parkinson, once commented that Keith was better known in town than he was.

Speaking at the commital at Burnley Crematorium family friend Jim Scott, reader at St James’s Church, Briercliffe, spoke about Keith’s life as a dedicated family man, accomplished photographer, artist, antiques expert and his love of motorbikes and caravanning.

Growning up in Queensgate with his sister Audrey and attending Abel Street Secondary Modern School, his first love had always been photography and during his National Service in the RAF had been an aerial photographer often leaning precariously out of aeroplanes and through bomb doors to get the perfect shots, as well as taking pictures of major parades and military events.

He was the youngest member of Burnley Photographic Society and was proud to have his first picture printed in the Express when he was just a schoolboy - not realising then that he would go on to be the paper’s chief photographer.

After National Service he chose not to pursue a career in the RAF but to go into industrial photography with C. J. Skipper Ltd, before he was drawn to newspaper photography and joined the Express.

It was a job he loved and which he did with a smile on his face, always polite, friendly and a true gentleman. He particularly loved going to fairs and church events where he would enjoy the cakes served up by the ladies and seek out bargains on the bric-a-brac stalls.

A former Bishop of Burnley, George Holderness, was so impressed by Keith’s picture of him that he chose it for his official portrait - and brides all over town remember his skilful pictures of their big day.

In his eulogy Mr Scott spoke about Keith’s meticulous attention to detail, his skill and technical expertise.

He and his wife Pat were married in 1958 at St Matthew’s Church and had two children, Roger and Hilary. Keith bought a caravan and loved taking the family all over the UK and abroad. After his retirement he remained busy holidaying, collecting antiques, painting and making jewellery - certainly a man of many parts.