TRIBUTES have been paid to a “kind and generous” Southampton man who died after falling to his death from a city landmark.

Keith Laidler was pronounced dead at the scene after falling from the Itchen Bridge onto ground below.

The 59-year-old trained engineer and former communications worker was well known in Southampton and was described as a “local character” by his family.

His sister Brenda said: “It has been like a bombshell. As far as we knew he was enjoying his life in Southampton, he had lots of friends and was popular with his neighbours.”

Mr Laidler moved to Southampton from the north-east in 1974 and stayed on the south coast for the rest of his life.

“He just decided he was upping sticks, packing up and moving to Southampton. There was no real reason for it.

"He and a friend just decided they wanted to go. He was a bit of a free spirit that way,” added Brenda.

Despite the distance Mr Laidler, who never married or had any children, kept in touch with his family in Yorkshire and often visited at Christmas.

Although not able to work in latter years due to persistent health problems, Mr Laidler was often found helping neighbours out with odd jobs and tinkering with cars, as he was a car enthusiast according to his family who also described him as “one of the kindest men you could ever meet”.

Brenda, who lives in Yorkshire, said: “We are just devastated. We don’t really feel like we know why this has happened really. That’s the worst of it, that he didn’t talk to us about how he was feeling. He was a chatterbox but you often never felt that you really knew what was going on inside.”

Keith leaves behind his older sisters Beryl and Brenda, along with his niece Ellenor.

His death, around 4pm on February 7, is not being treated as suspicious, and a file has been passed to the Southampton coroner’s office.