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Gordon Maclean, distinguished architect who loved Hampstead

For more than 20 years he scrutinised every one of the thousands of planning applications submitted across Hampstead

02 December, 2018 — By Martin Humphery

GORDOM Maclean, vice-president of The Heath & Hampstead Society, who died aged 86 earlier this month at his home in Hampstead after a brief illness, was, above all, a gentleman. While possessed of huge wisdom and experience, he was the kindliest and most companionable friend imaginable.

He was born in Birkenhead but was brought up in South Africa where his father was serving in the dominion’s police force. Having read architecture at the University of Witwatersrand, he moved back to England in the late 1950s, working for several firms of architects before joining Murray Ward and Partners (formerly Connell Ward and Lucas), where he worked with famous architects Keith Murray (an Art Deco specialist who designed buildings for Napier in New Zealand and for Wedgwood ceramics) and Basil Ward. Gordon, who specialised in airport design, eventually became the firm’s senior partner. Outside work, he had many interests including travel, the arts and philately.

Gordon was a very distinguished architect, with a particular interest in the architecture and character of Hampstead.

He brought to the town planning activities of the Society not just his wide knowledge and experience, but also a gift for authoritative expression which was always fair, sometimes acerbic and often humorous.

For more than 20 years he scrutinised every one of the thousands of planning applications submitted across Hampstead and wrote comments and objections which were little masterpieces of English, as well as being technically unassailable.

The planners at Camden Council must have learned much from Gordon, even if his views often differed from theirs. He joined the Society’s town committee in 1998.

When, in 2004, he agreed to succeed me as its chairman (not “chair”, as I’m sure he would have insisted), I and my colleagues were so pleased to welcome a real expert to replace a well-meaning amateur. In 2008, Gordon became chairman of the newly established planning committee, a position in which he served until 2010. Until his death he remained on that committee and as a trustee of the Society (he attended our last trustees’ meeting in September this year).

In 2017 it was a real delight for me to see him elected to the position of Society vice-president in acknowledgement of his huge service to our Society and to Hampstead. Gordon also played a prominent role in the Belsize Residents’ Association and in the successful campaign to rescue Hampstead Old Town Hall and to save it for the community.

My colleagues and many Hampstead residents will have their own personal memories of Gordon; all I can say is that, like all his many friends, I will miss him sorely, while also celebrating a life well lived. He is survived by his wife Lysiane, to whom we send our deepest sympathy.

Martin Humphery is the Vice-President of The Heath & Hampstead Society


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