Ray Gorbing obituary

Publié le par The Guardian - Sue Gorbing

The Guardianpublished 28/02/2013 at 07:00 GMT by Sue Gorbing

My father, Ray Gorbing, who has died aged 92, was a pioneering architect regarded with great affection by many as "Mr Stevenage".

Ray Gorbing
In the 1950s, working in Hertfordshire at the Stevenage Development Corporation on what was Britain's first New Town, Ray led the team responsible for many planning firsts in the UK – a pedestrianised town centre, cycle tracks throughout the town, and neighbourhoods each with their own community centre and pub. Stevenage "Old Towners" staged protests against the development, christening it "Silkingrad" after the government minister responsible, Lewis Silkin.

In 1962 Ray teamed up with a fellow architect, Len Vincent, to form their own highly successful practice, Vincent and Gorbing. One of Ray's most memorable designs is Stevenage's Gordon Craig theatre (originally dubbed "Ray's Orange Box"), which has his lasting legacy of unusually generous legroom. A tall man, Ray negotiated with the council for the sacrifice of a number of seats to allow for the extra space. Ray sang on stage at the opening gala as a member of the Lytton Players, a local theatre company.

Ray was a talented performer and one review in the local paper noted: "Ray Gorbing's terrifying flashing-eyed Mikado had presence in abundance and his diabolical and demoniacal laughter was quite spine-chilling." His commitment to the Lytton Players was unwavering and he enjoyed long spells as their chairman and president. A natural leader, Ray played prominent roles in the town's tennis club, Rotary, Round Table and Probus.

Ray's parents were German immigrants who settled in 1909 in Hampstead Garden Suburb, north London, where his mother was cleaner to his namesake and godfather, the pioneering architect Raymond Unwin. Ray, the fifth of seven children, was born there not long after his father's return from internment on the Isle of Man as an "alien civilian" during the first world war.

When the second world war broke out Ray was granted a postponement to his call-up so that he could sit his final architecture exams at Northern Polytechnic (now London Metropolitan University), before being posted to the Royal Corps of Signals. He served as wireless operator and dispatch rider in north Africa and Italy. He met our mother, Dorothy, in Huddersfield while at a Signals training camp nearby, and they married in 1948, moving to Stevenage two years later.

Dorothy died in 2006 and Ray was lost without her. He moved from Stevenage to Somerset to be near my brother Peter. He is survived by Peter and me.

Publié dans Avis de décès

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