TOM Priestley - the son of JB Priestley and Honorary President of Bradford Playhouse - has died, aged 91.

Mr Priestley, an Oscar-nominated film sound editor, backed the Telegraph & Argus's Save the Priestley Centre campaign when the historic Little Germany theatre (now Bradford Playhouse) was at risk of closure in 2001.

Thomas Holland Priestley was born on April 22, 1932 at 3 The Grove, Highgate, a historic house once belonging to Samuel Coleridge, which had been recently bought by his father, playwright, novelist and broadcaster JB Priestley.

A statement from the Priestley family says: "He was the longed for son, the youngest child with five lively and talented elder sisters, Angela, Barbara, Sylvia, Mary and Rachel.

Just nine years before, JB’s eldest child was born in very different circumstances in a flat in King Edward VII Mansions, at the top of the North End Road, when JB worked as a jobbing reviewer and as yet unsuccessful novelist. In those intervening and brief 9 years, another daughter was born; JB’s wife Pat died tragically young of cancer, JB remarried Jane Wyndham-Lewis, acquiring a stepdaughter, with two further new daughters to make a large blended family. His novel The Good Companions, had changed his fortunes forever.

Tom was brought up in Highgate and at Billingham Manor in the Isle of Wight. The whole family spent two memorable winters in 1936 and 1938 in Arizona, on a dude ranch run by real cowboys.

Tom was sent to boarding school when he was eight, to Hawtreys prep school. He said he had no visits from his father who was then travelling the length of Britain on war work, but his headmaster allowed him to listen to JB’s wartime broadcasts in his study on his own radio. The school was evacuated to Herefordshire near to the hostels run by his mother for evacuee mothers and children which allowed Tom more family life.

At the end of the war he went to Bryanston School followed by National Service in 1950 with the Royal Engineers. His father divorced and remarried Jacquetta Hawkes, bringing Tom the companionship of a step-brother, her son Nicolas Hawkes.

Tom read classics and English at Kings College Cambridge, where he ran a play-reading club once attended by EM Forster, and watched as many films as he could. He then spent a year in Greece teaching English and researching Byzantine church art.

On his return he started work in the film industry as assistant film librarian at Ealing Studios, “Literally sweeping the floor,” he said. “I wanted to try and find something that my father hadn’t done”.

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Tom Priestley had a successful career in the film industry Tom Priestley had a successful career in the film industry (Image: Clive Boursnell)

His first credit was assistant sound editor on Dunkirk (1958) but his first real break through was with Morgan: A suitable Case for Treatment (1966) winning a BAFTA for best editing.

This consolidated his reputation as one of the 1960s best young editors leading to work in Britain and America with the feted new directors of the era including Derek Jarman, Lindsay Anderson and John Boorman. His work on Boorman’s Deliverance in 1973 led to Tom being nominated for an Oscar and winning a BAFTA for best editing.

By the late 1970s he was being offered big productions like Voyage of the Damned and The Return of the Pink Panther, as well as supporting new British directors like Michael Radford and Harry Hook. He later taught editing at the National Film and Television School, rounding off a remarkable career in the film industry.

He spent a year working on the documentary about his father, Time and the Priestleys, broadcast just after JBP’s death in September 1984.

Following his father’s death, Tom took on some of the responsibilities of managing his literary estate, including lecturing to the cast members of Priestley plays, and writing the introductions for new anthologies and editions of Priestley works.

Through his advocacy of his father’s writing, he came to a resolution of some of the tensions in his relationship with his father.

JBP wrote to him in 1971 to say “It’s not easy to be the children of a well-known father - I have always realised that, but equally it is not easy to be the well-known father.”

Tom lent his support to the JB Priestley Society, becoming its honorary president. In 2010, the University of Bradford made Tom an honorary Doctor of Letters for his outstanding contributions to film, theatre and literature.

He died, age 91, peacefully in his sleep of the many frailties of old age.

Bradford writer Irene Lofthouse said: "I first met Tom about 20 years ago when he came to Bradford Playhouse in his capacity as Honorary President, and I was involved as volunteer and trustee. He was always interested in how the theatre was progressing, what events were happening and how he could support them.

"Tom was very generous to emerging writers like me. I approached him about adapting his father's short story Uncle Phil on TV for stage. He was encouraging and our correspondence went back and forth discussing the adaptation.

"He read several drafts of my scripts, suggesting edits and tweaks until we agreed on the final edit. Unfortunately he wasn't able to make the premiere at Bradford Cathedral, but he was delighted with the event. As he was with the productions/short tours of Mother's Day and Rose and Crown.

"A warm, kind and lovely man, and I was very honoured that he took time to chat and be interested in how my writing journey developed."