Historian and author John Cloake (1924-2014) began to collect prints of Richmond when he and his wife moved to the borough in 1962. Initially, he set out on a journey to discover the origins of his home on Richmond Hill, purchasing prints to accompany the major discoveries he made. From there, Cloake became involved with the writing of many local history publications, the formation of Richmond Local History Society and the initiation of the Museum of Richmond, of which he was the first chairman. He was a true champion for local studies in the borough. His most famous publication is Richmond Past: A Visual History of Richmond, Kew, Petersham and Ham.
Cloake was a former United Kingdom diplomatic representative in Bulgaria. During and immediately after World War II, Cloake served in the British Army as lieutenant in the Royal Engineers in India and Japan. After the war he completed his studies, reading History at Cambridge University. He became a diplomat within the Foreign Office. He was posted in Baghdad, Siagon, New York, Moscow, Tehran and Sofia.
After Cloake’s death in 2014, the borough purchased 78 prints from his collection by notable 18th and 19th century artists.