A WAR memorial house containing a gallery of William Heath Robinson illustrations was reopened in Pinner today following 15 years of fundraising.

West House, in West End Lane, has been fully refurbished at a cost of more than £1 million after it fell into disrepair in the 1980s.

Part of the building has been converted into a gallery for Robinson, a famous artist who lived in Pinner from 1908 to 1918.

The William Heath Robinson Trust has donated more than 500 original drawings and paintings to the house, which will hang in rotation.

Martin Verden, chairman of the Pinner Association, addressed the 500-strong crowd at the opening this afternoon.

He said: "William Heath Robinson was special because he loved creating laughter out of everyday idiosyncrasies.

"His cartoons were about the two world wars, but they were never bitter. He always saw the humorous side.

"So we feel that he would have wanted to bring people together with laughter here. We have a terrific sense of community."

Author Michael Rosen, whose family house was located beside the memorial estate, unveiled the new West House plaque. He said he had been introduced to Robinson by his brother as a young boy - though they had no idea he had lived in the area.

Speaking of West House, Mr Rosen said: "This place is full of memories and resonances.

"It is great to see this great artist celebrated at this gallery - you shouldn't diminish him by calling him a cartoonist. He was a social commentator, a humourist.

"Our comedians, those who do popular art, are our great pride."

Robinson was born in Islington in 1872 and trained as an artist at The Royal Academy Schools, the oldest art school in the country.

He began his career illustrating books before branching out into magazine cartoons.

He eventually made his name as a comic wartime artist and his illustrations were used to sell products as diverse as toffee and asbestos roofing.

Speaking of his own work, Robinson once said: "Whatever success my drawings have had was not only down to the fantastic machinery and devices, and to the absurd situations, but to the style in which they were drawn.

"This was designed to imply that the artist had complete belief in what he was drawing.

"He was seeing no joke in the subject matter. In fact, he was part of the joke."

Robinson died in 1944. The William Heath Robinson Trust was established in 1992 to conserve and exhibit his works.