IHBC registers sadness at passing of Peter Richards: ACO founder member… ‘aware that [ours] was a young profession’ and ‘not afraid to fight a difficult cause’…

The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) is gently marking the recent passing of a founding member of the Association of Conservation Officers (ACO) and its first Treasurer, offering thoughts and select signposts to his achievements, including to his obituary in The Guardian and links to some of his writings in the Institute’s member journal Context.

Bob Kindred MBE and IHBC Government Liaison Secretary said: ‘The Institute is very sad to note the recent passing of Peter Richards, the first Treasurer of the Association of Conservation Officers.’

‘He was pivotal to the growth and status of the organisation in its early years. After retirement from Essex CC he continued to follow closely the progress of IHBC and even at 94 remained highly supportive and was up to speed with the current issues facing the profession.’

‘He will be greatly missed by his wide circle of ex-colleagues and friends throughout the heritage sector.’

Sam Richards writes in The Guardian:

The role of the local authority conservation officer is much misunderstood and maligned. My father, Peter Richards, who has died aged 94, did much to place the discipline on a proper professional footing and demonstrate what it could achieve. He headed a multidisciplinary team at Essex county council from 1974 to 1994 and led the restoration of important historic buildings and their gardens for public use…

Peter combined sound conservation principles, a pragmatic approach and personal integrity. He was a founder member in 1982 of the Association of Conservation Officers, which… became the Institute of Historic Buildings and Conservation. Peter was aware that this was a young profession and was very supportive of younger officers who looked on him a role model. He also served on English Heritage’s historic building committee for six years.

He was not afraid to fight a difficult cause , as he showed when supporting legal action in 1995 against the Conservative MP Teresa Gorman…

…Following his retirement in 1994, Peter served on the Copped Hall Trust and as chairman of the Chelmsford Diocesan advisory committee…  He was a great fan of jazz, amassing a collection of thousands of records and CDs, and from 2018, wrote prolifically for an online jazz magazine.

Read more….

See also:

  • Peter’s analysis of ‘The Montagu Report, Ten years on: Essex – A Re-assessment’, in Context, No 29, June 1990 HERE and
  • Peter’s description of ‘the complex goings on which led to the prosecution of Teresa Gorman MP for listed building offences’ at ‘Old Hall Farmhouse, Pound Lane, Orsett, Essex’ in Context, No 53, March 1997, HERE
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