Leslie Silver

Leslie Silver, OBE was Chancellor of Leeds Metropolitan University from 1999 to 2005.

Born in London in 1925, he moved with his family to Leeds in 1940 and in 1943, he joined the RAF for training as Air Crew. For the rest of the war, Leslie served operationally in Europe and the Far East.


Once hostilities were over he returned to Leeds and went into business laying the foundation for his life’s work – the highly successful Leyland Paints company, which began in 1947 as the Silver Paint and Lacquer Company Limited.

Leslie Silver OBE founded the "Silver Paint & Lacquer Co." SPL, as it became known in 1947 when he left the RAF. Using his gratuity and a loan, Mr Silver, manufactured nitro cellulose thinners, mainly for the car industry.

In the 1950's the product range was extended to include decorative paint products.

Initially SPL was based in Leeds, but by the 1960's the factory lacked sufficient space and in 1963 moved to larger premises in Batley. In 1976 and 1981 respectively the company took over the Leeds Paint Manufacturing Company and Bestobell Paints. In 1982 the company was renamed Kalon. The word is derived from Greek and means "for the greater good". It represents the company's diversity of ideas and activities.

In 1982 Leslie was awarded the Order of the British Empire and named Yorkshire Businessman of the Year in 1983. During his long service in the paint industry, he held national office as:

  • President of the Oil and Colour Chemists Association (1973-5)
  • President of the Paint Industries Club (1978-9)
  • President of the Paintmakers Association of Great Britain Limited (1979-80)
  • President of the Paint Research Association (1981-2)

It was the first time any one individual has served as President of the four associations relating to the Surface Coating industry.

1983 once again saw the company on the move, this time from Batley to the much larger (and current) premises off Huddersfield Road in Birstall. In 1985, Kalon acquired Leyland Paints. The 'reverse take over' led to the flotation of Kalon on the London Stock Exchange and the formation of Kalon Group PLC.

Leeds United

A lifetime fan of the ‘beautiful game’ Leslie joined the Board of Leeds United A.F.C. in 1980, becoming Chairman in 1982, a post he held until 1995. He keeps his hand in as President of Harrogate Football Club and, in addition to his support of the University over more than twenty years, Leslie is an active patron of many other charities.

Leeds Metropolitan University

In 1988, he was invited to chair a formation committee of the then Leeds Polytechnic, subsequently becoming Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Polytechnic, which is now Leeds Metropolitan University. It was a great honour to the University when, on the 1st of January 1999, Leslie became the first Chancellor. He resigned early 2005. A faculty in the university is currently named after him.


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