The Trustees of the Ken Stradling Collection announce with sadness that
Ken Stradling’s long and remarkable life
came to a close on 31 July

Photo: Ken Stradling MBE

Kenneth Walter Stradling MBE
2 January 1922 – 31 July 2022

Obituary in the Times, Saturday 12 November
[you need to be a subscriber to read it]

Obituary in The Guardian, Sunday 16 October 2022

BBC news coverage:
Modernist design collector, Ken Stradling, dies aged 100
by Jonathan Holmes

Collector, entrepreneur, retail buyer, raconteur…

Ken Stradling. Copyright

Ken Stradling. Copyright

Ken Stradling MBE was a man who made a lifelong passion for design into a stellar career, shaping the tastes of Bristol as buyer and MD of the Bristol Guild. Rather like like his contemporary, Sir Terence Conran, during his long career in retail, Ken Stradling MBE was an influential advocate, distributor and collector of world-class modern design from Europe and the Nordic regions.

The Ken Stradling Collection abounds in beautifully designed and desirable objects. Some are very valuable items by high-end artists and designers such as Eric Ravilious or Marcel Breuer; others are popular classics that are still very affordable – it’s a wonderfully democratic collection. Ken’s career is fascinating within the context of histories of design and consumption from the post-war through the sixties, seventies and beyond.

Ken was born and raised in Bristol, attending Bristol Grammar School. The school’s headmaster, J.E. Barton, was an authority on art and design and was a huge and remarkable influence on him. Ken’s mother took him to auctions where, as a teenager, his first purchase was a piece of Eltonware, the local art pottery of the earlier 20th century. See the video below to see Ken talking about this item.

Between 1939 and 1948 Ken served in the Army, after which he became Assistant Manager of the Bristol Guild of Applied Arts. In 1958 Ken married Betty Haggar, a painter who taught art at Clifton High School. They began to travel in Europe, Scandanavia and as far as Czechoslovakia buying for the Guild. After Betty’s untimely death in 1964 Ken continued to develop the Guild into an outstanding retail destination for modern craft and design.

Ken created a Trust which would develop this incredible and diverse collection as an educational resource for future generations. Since it opened in 2014, the Stradling Collection’s education programme has excited and inspired secondary school children, students and teachers, within and beyond Bristol. It also tells valuable stories about the history of design through its exhibition programme.

In 2020 Ken was awarded an MBE at his Collection by the Lord Lieutenant of Bristol, Peaches Golding. It was a timely recognition of the huge contribution he made to his city and its cultural life.

Photo: Lord Lieutenant of Bristol, Peaches Golding, presenting Ken Stradling with his MBE in 2020 ©Barbara Evripidou/

Photo: Lord Lieutenant of Bristol, Peaches Golding, presenting Ken Stradling with his MBE in 2020 ©Barbara Evripidou/

“Ken Stradling was a major influence in my life from the day I went to work at the Bristol Guild of Applied Art in 1962.

“Working for Ken was like a doctorate in design, he introduced me to the most interesting and exciting people and places including the Council for Industrial Design, the Design Centre and the Craftsman Potters’ shop. He also arranged for me to study interior design part-time at the Art College.

“So many people have been influenced and educated directly by Ken and many thousands more have been able to enjoy the very best of Applied Art chosen by Ken in the Guild. Ken made the Guild a beacon of the best contemporary interior design in the days before Conran and Habitat, I don’t think there was a shop in the country that was its equal.”

Ken and Val Shelton, Shelton Pottery