John Murray

Interview recorded by DR & ST in November 2017in London. Transcript by AD.

D – Can you just begin by saying your name and your year of birth. That’s just a classical oral history question?

JM – My name is John Murray. I was born in 1941. I became an architect. I qualified in 1965, I think… And then… I first went to work in Coventry. Because one of my tutors had worked in Coventry in his time. So I worked in Coventry for a number of years and then I met Ursula1 In Coventry. All my friends were in Edinburgh. I was from Lancashire. We decided in 1972 that we should leave Coventry. We said where shall we go? Shall we go to Edinburg or Manchester? And we said : well, let’s go to London for a year and then we will decide. So that’s was that in 1972, which was more than a year. Because in London, as you have realised, you meet people, all sorts of people. All these people that I met in NAM… You know, people tend to come who have similar ideas and you meet them. And the offices… So that’s who I am.

D – As you know we are working on this project which explores collective organisations of architecture and built environments groups. We wanted to speak with you, as the first person in fact. Because you are the co-founder of New Architecture Movement. And we wanted to ask you a few questions, because we are seeking to draw from similar endeavours in our work. Can we begin by asking you to set the background to New Architecture Movement?

JM – Yes, I will. I am afraid it might be a bit long. But… I may have been giving you this already. (He hands a print) Somebody a little while ago asked me – maybe it was John ?Walter?, I don’t know… Have they taught me in school of architecture about working with tenants and stuff? And my answer was no, they haven’t. Maybe they do now but not in my days… What happened was this. I was working in Coventry and I was working in the schools department for Coventry City’s Architects. And I was asked to design a new school on a site of an existing primary school, a big old 19th century school, which had a big site and they wanted a new primary school on the site… I was delighted… The interesting thing about it was, that because there was an existing school : the deputy head teacher of the existing school would become the head teacher of the new school. So why is that significant? Usually when you design a school, you don’t know who the head teacher is, because she is not appointed until the school is built. But she was already there as the deputy of the existing school. I was briefed by the city education officer on the school. And I designed a school which I thought was really quite good… And I also gave a copy – as well as giving a copy to the client officer – I gave a copy to the future head teacher. And then, when I asked the education officer how I should accommodate suggestions from the head teacher about the design. Because he had approved the design and said : “Fine, go ahead”. I said but she has made some comments, how do I accommodate them? He replied. He was very nice but he replied : “Just ignored her”. But I decided that I should ignore him. And… I then went on to work closely with this head teacher and her teachers and the pupils of this school… And I think we developed what turned out to be a successful and quite well regarded primary school, in one of the poorest area of Coventry. And for me, this was the confirmation, that the users of the building must be fully involved if the design is to be successful.


And it was an important lesson that has stayed with me to this day… And other ideas came… Subsequently I may say, I worked in private offices. But I never ever, I don’t think ever came across a client, who was as good as this head teacher… Other ideas came from working with tenants. And so the next stage of this process, I was now down in London. And in the early 1970s, many architects including myself… we were working in offices during the day, we were providing free design advices for tenants and residents groups. And this taught both side the benefits of having a design service accountable to the people who use buildings. I was working for tenants in Newham, while during the day I worked for BDP – Building Design Partnership – who incidentally are very good firm who had an idealistic founding father George Grenfell Baines2 who stated it should be multidisciplinary and fully involved and rewarded staff. And it did… And he has these ideas, the three Rs : “Responsibility, Recognition and Reward”. And subsequently, these ideas influenced our public design group, NAM public design group. Anyway… My wife, Ursula, was working at that time in a community development project in Canning Town3. And it is through her that I became involved with West Ham tenants. And I was just thinking about this before I met you… And I imagined that I went to some parties down there and I met these tenants… And eventually I became to work for them… What struck me about this tenants also, rather in a way like this head teacher, was how intelligent and thoughtful and committed they were. I must say I thought there were far far superior than some of the private clients I was working for when I was in BDP… The other thing … When I was working in BDP, we used to occasionally have a drink at lunch time. But we also used to visit the AA… Because it was just around the corner… at Bedford Square… To look at whatever they had up on the walls… There was also an AA studio on Percy Street, which was just around the corner from BDP office on Gresse street4. And it was there I met Brian Anson, who was a tutor and a student. And I talked to Brian about my interest in public design service… Now ARC, the Architectural Revolutionary Council… They were proposing a new architecture movement, which would try to encourage sympathetic architects and students to work together and in a sense to fight against the RIBA… I think… So, Brian said : “This is what we are proposing. We are going to have a conference shortly. Will you do a talk about your public design service?” And I said fine. And in November 1975, an advert appeared in the architectural press inviting participants to attend an inaugural congress of the New Architecture Movement… That’s the expression they used. A very fancy expression : the inaugural congress of the New Architecture Movement… In the unlikely settings of Harrogate. Incidentally, it is a very very nice town… And so the congress brought together a considered number of like minded salaried architects and students. NAM was born… So on ARC, I have got a little note here : Albane sent me some of her notes, about what she had done on Brian Anson and ARC. And the other day, I had a look through them and I found some very interesting emails5 that Brian Anson had written. It includes his ideas, where he was… Brian Anson was a very good guy. He was an architect – planner, I think… And he worked for the GLC. And he was in charge of the redevelopment – this is a diversion by the way – the redevelopment of Covent Garden. There were big oppositions to the redevelopment… And Brian Anson joined them and supported the people.


And they sacked him. The GLC sacked him. As he says interestingly, they give him a job. Anyway… There we are… And how NAM ideas were discussed… ARC proposed and we were all up there in Harrogate. How many people… I can’t remember, maybe 60? And… ARC proposed that NAM’s structure should be an elected leader with a committee. Then it became an animated debate. The women who were there, including Ursula, and a woman called ?Lenny?? from Cardiff. They got together. And these women objected to this suggestion and they persuaded the men, us men, to structure NAM like the Women’s Movement. That is groups of people interested on particular issues who would come together as necessary and not at the dictate of a higher body. So as a result of that, NAM was structured as local groups. There was also a liaison group whose role was to coordinate the different groups, and deals with correspondence and arrange the next congress… I was involved in the first London liaison group. We got a grant from the Rowntree foundation, for an office, in 9 Poland Street, although our first office was in ?Woodford? Street. So that was that… And I think… Maybe it is the next question… But looking back, when we were trying to do our website. And looking back, we would never never have made it if the women had not said do it this way… And what I would suggest to your colleagues, whatever they are doing : They should do the same. The business of having broad groups of people who work together works very very well. And that’s why NAM was so successful actually. Because then we went on doing the groups, this or that… Then we set up all these different groups. So you were not arguing: “I want to do the design service and you want to do this”. We did it all ! And that was because of the women’s advice really.

D – That’s really fascinating. Do you think you give a sense because of your early practice and your own frustration at education, that you arrive at this feeling that architecture will be much more open with the participation of users within the process of design. And Brian Anson sort of goes through a similar trajectory, but actually more in conservation than in the design process. Did you have a sense that everyone else involved in the early days had come to the same conclusion or were there any other key or specific moments that had lead people to act in that way?

JM – I don’t know… I think that… I make another little digression with Brian Anson in a minute. But I think that… I gradually realised that people were, as I said, that people were working for 10 organisations, all around London or elsewhere. Because one of the thing I didn’t say to you when I talked to you, I forgot to talk about the local groups… Because the first things that happened was with local groups. And I have a list of them here with local groups in London (shuffling through papers), in Cardiff, Hull, Edinburgh, Sheffield, Nottingham, Cheltenham, and so on and so on… And these local groups were busy working away, doing whatever they were doing. And then, they would come together. So for example, in our Public Design group, I was here from what I discovered the Central London group, which surprised me. But I worked in Central London so… But other members were working in Sheffield. And they were some other students in Nottingham.


So we were all over the country. I used to go, to travel to Sheffield for our meetings.

S – How many people would be in one of your local groups?

JM – I think in our group, we were probably ten or twelve… But it could be quite small I suppose. It didn’t really need many. I was going to say about Brian, before I forget. You will find it if you look at Albane’s thing. Because what they were also working about. ARC… They were doing things up in Yorkshire, where they were suggesting old mills should become flats, housing. It’s a brilliant idea really. Because we have a flat in Skipton6, where we go. I used to go walking up there. And it’s an old mill. I think Brian Anson and ARC were busy doing things like that in Yorkshire and elsewhere, encouraging old mills to be used as housing.

S – So, apart from the Women’s movement…

JM – They were important…

S – What were the other organisations?

JM – I suppose Trade Unions. I suppose the Communist Party. The communist party was kind of stronger in these days. And a number of our members were in the communist party; and in our public design group. Public Design Partnership itself. Schools of architecture were quite important. And I mentioned Cheltenham. Interestingly enough… And one of my friends, Richard Tompson?, who came to our Birmingham Congress, involved his former tutors in NAM as well. And then, there was an organisation called Assist who was helping tenants in Glasgow. They were renovating the buildings, the tenements7. They were very very good as a structure. They once offered me a job. I went up to see their work. It was brilliant actually. I didn’t take it, but then… Someone else I found reading though my papers, is someone called ?????, who had written an MA Thesis in Newcastle in 1973. I never met him, but… These were the kinds of movements… Another thing about Brian. Unfortunately he is dead now. Brian was a supporter of the IRA. He told me something once. That the purpose of these so-called terrorist movements are to wind up the government so that they overreact. When they overreact, people in the end would get behind the movement, you know, against the government. That’s what Brian told me once down there in Percy Street. I thought about it ever since. I think each time something goes on in Iraq or whatever, why did they never go and speak to Brian and get his advice… Because that’s what these people are obviously doing, Isis and the rest of them. Winding people up so that they overreact, which they always and they do. That was Brian. And I suspect he wanted us to do the same to the RIBA, so that they would overreact. But I don’t know if we ever did…

S – Great. So speaking about Brian, who were the other people you were with, specifically working with NAM?

JM – Ok, I suppose that… (looking through papers) Well, there was the liaison group… I can’t really remember who was in it. But John Allan8 would no doubt have a list of that, if we ever need it. So liaison group, there was John Allan. There was someone called David Roebuck?, who then worked in Council and then in due course with John Allan and then Avanti. And then Gilles Peabody… and then the Public Design Group, which I developed with Allan Percy?, who used to be one of Brian’s students.

D – Were you all in the same industry, were you all trained architects?

JM – We were. Yes. We were at different levels… Some of our Public Design Service people and I am sure this is true for all over, were students. We were all architects. As far as I know, yes.

D- Hard to know in this non hierarchical structure… Were there any planners?

JM- I don’t know if there were planners. This is a very interesting question. And this is another diversion. When we talked about a NAM website, there was this fellow Dexter Hutfield? who set up the centre for the public services. Dexter was on the steering committee and he had a 70s birthday in Ireland a few years ago. And he said they were going to do a website, which made me think of the website. And in Ireland, at Dexter’s birthday party, there were all these people, architects and planners. And I met this guy who said he used to write in the Architects Journal, you know… I think there could have been planners there. Because planners were obviously involved in these things too.

D – Did you get a sense that everyone was motivated by the same concern?

JM- That’s a very good question. We must have been in broad terms. But if you look at some of our SLATE. You would see. Because we were pushing the public sector, the public design service. That wasn’t to say that all the things done by other groups was not important. But our review about the public sector was absolutely important because that public sector owned the land. It was the organisation that could give lots and lots of housing to people. It was the only organisation that could do it. So we pushed that. And interestingly enough, I read a response to an article we or I had written, it was published in the SLATE. It was charging this idea. It is interesting that you find this quite often. I don’t know what the reason is actually. It is not that some people are against the public sector. I don’t know if that is some form of anarchism. I don’t know really what the reason is actually. It’s ok. I suppose it’s why that it was good that we had this broad thing. Because we didn’t argue. Once we came together, we debated it, agreed it… Usually we would always agree. There were different views, there is no doubt about that. That’s what you can see very clearly in all these SLATEs. I suppose that’s quite a good thing.

D – Over the course of establishing that, were you open to new members?

JM – Yes, we were. I remember…. We try very hard to get new members. We try to get ourselves published in the AJ and BD. We encouraged architects and students to join us. For example, we had a Covent Garden Seminar in May 1976, which I spoke at. And not only I, but other colleagues… And it was covered by ?Unquarth? You know Ungarwht? Sometimes she writes in the Guardian. I remain a big fan of her ever since. She wrote a very good review of the seminar. It must have been in BD. And Louis Elmer?. Looking into my papers, I found a report published in the AJ written by Louis Elmer.

S – And were there any people that you tried to recruit and it wasn’t successful?

JM – I can’t remember that. But what I do remember is that in Percy Street or ???? Street when we were having our meeting, people would just come in. There was no who are you. People would just came. And I remember one time in a meeting. Two guys came in. I didn’t know. They were urging to be more active, to be more out, challenge, do more active things : protests… And I thought to myself : “Who the hell are you?” And after, we went outside and Gilles was walking beside me and said to me : “Do you think these were bloody police? Or MFI or somebody trying to wind us up to do something stupid?” And I said: “I just had the same thought myself, Gilles”. So I don’t know. People did come and we never knew who they were.

D – And did you ever encounter any resistance to your work among the groups or among other people you were involved with?

JM – Not really, no. I remember one time. David Roebuck?, who worked at the ?household? at that time, he came to see me at the BDP. We wrote a letter to AJ and subsequently the letter was published and we were arguing for the National Design service type of things. And the next week, one of the partner who I worked with, a very nice guy, came and spoke to me : “John, is it really what you should be doing?” It was in a way different from what I was actually doing… Anyway, It was that kind of jovial remark. No, I can’t remember resistance. But I think… Looking back at AJs and BDs, various reporters were quite cynical about us, really, especially about the Harrogate conference. I have all these things, I could print them and let you see them.

D – That would be fantastic.

JM – He thought : “Will this thing ever succeed?”. You know.

D- Were they ever hostile to the aims of the group?

JM – Some were. Yes… There were letters. A couple of days, I was reading recently letters in the AJs. I kept a pile of cuttings. In real life, it wasn’t harming you, really. In the office, it was no problem. People knew what you were doing.


It was easier then. Because BDP in particular was really very good. They would encourage us to have seminars in the office, about things… One of the seminars we had, would be about : public housing, working with tenants and so on…. The partners would encourage you. It was a way of bringing the office together too. You know, people talked together and argued for things and so on…

S – Were the partners at BDP aware that you were working with tenant after office hours?

JM – I don’t know if they were. I don’t know if I have ever said to them that’s what I am doing. They never asked me either. If they had I would have said. They looked after us very well. There were one called Bill ?Jack?, who I worked with. Bill Jack came from Aberdeen actually. I got on very well with him. He used to live in Highgate, near Muswell Hill perhaps. He used to invite us for Sunday morning, get together chat with him and his wife. And yes, we went. It was always very chatty, and open about all sorts of things. Who knows what I said to him on these Sunday mornings…

D – So you didn’t feel you had to be clandestine about it?

JM – No, never…

D – Did other members have? Who might have worked for less accommodating firms?

JM – I don’t know. It is a very good question. Perhaps, you need to ask Gilles. Because he used to work for an organisation whose name I have forgotten. This organisation whose father became a councillor here in Haringey. And Gilles was eventually sacked by this firm. And I do somehow remember Gilles telling me, because he was very active in the unionisation: “He keeps it quiet in his office”. So some offices were not good at all. BDP was very unusual I would say.

D – So you mentioned the National Design Services. Can you elaborate on the other aims of the group?

JM – Let me look at my papers… (he shuffles through papers)

Interruption (they drink water)

I did a revised version after meeting with…??? the other day… Why can’t I find it… Sorry… What I got here, this is not what I am looking for. This was the talk I gave at the first NAM conference… About the National Design Service (he hands a paper over). That I found among the many things I haven’t found. And this… This is the National Design Service number 3. This is its group addresses. So all the people who are in it. There is also a list of the people who have been to the Birmingham Congress…

D – Was the Birmingham one, the second congress?

JM – No, it was our National Design Service, the first one in 1978. We have the information somewhere here… I think the second conference was in Hull, which surprised me… As I couldn’t remember Hull. Although I have recently been to Hull. I recommend that you got it is the city of culture this year. And then we had another congress in Blackpool and then a congress in Edinburgh… I would have to look up. If John Allan was here, he would be able to say here it is. He would tell you instantly… I have this thing… (he keeps on shuffling through papers). Maybe I can remember.

D – Do you want a hand? We can help you sieve through? Perhaps, it’s hidden under…

JM – Maybe, yes. Maybe I have it in here….

D – There is really no rush.

JM – OK… All right… Actually it was on this page. So you asked me what the other groups were. So there was an accountability to users, alternative practice, education, feminist group, professional issues group. And numbers of us were elected to ARCUK9 to represent an unattached architect. And then there were : trade unions and architecture. And SLATE. SLATE was the magazine… I used to think that Andy ?? was the sole editor for all of it. Because Andy was the one to chase me to get my articles done on time. But I discovered there were a group of them. Andy was one. Gilles Peabody was another. And then there were two or three other people. They were also a group. And…

D – So there were eight parallel strand within NAM

JM – There were at least eight. I think in this page that I couldn’t find, it came about ten.

D – Ok. How did these strands emerged ? Were there collective decision taking?

JM – This is a very good question. I don’t know, I guess someone would have been particularly interested. The public design that was myself, so that I knew…. In the ARCUK… which was called the professional issues. There was a guy, called… What was is name… who had been on ARCUK… ARCUK is now the ARB. It was then the Architects Registration Council of the UK. You joined the ARCUK after you qualified as an architect. You know this, you finish your practice exam and two years later, you can register as an architect. The ARCUK was run by the RIBA… And those people who were registered architects but who were not members of the RIBA : they were referred to as unattached architects. Of course, we were all unattached architects. And there was a guy who was very committed to this. And he came to Harrogate. He was really into fighting the RIBA and having more unattached architects. Because he was kind of on his own on these committee. So he said : NAM sets itself up to be elected. And we did. We were. (he coughs) Huge election in fact. People said ok, vote for this guys. We were elected with big big majority. A big group of us became a big group of unattached architects. I have a list… If I can find this thing. Why the hell can’t I find it? I had a list of us there.

D – What were you collectively lobbying ?

JM – Ah, here… No… (he keeps shuffling through papers) these are the people who were at Birmingham. Sorry, your question?

D- with the group of unattached architects, what were you lobbying?

JM – I guess what we were doing… We would argue the case for whatever suited us… I am not sure how well organized we were. We certainly used to have arguments with the RIBA people. Because there would be committees. Because there were so many of us, we had to be on these committees as well. I guess.. I can’t really answer your question… Again, John Allan would have all these information. Because I seem to remember he was quite instrumental in getting us to stand as well. What I do remember as coming together on… And the result of it was this : Community architects. And the RIBA began to talk about having competitive fees. And we pointed out that previously, way back, in 1920s, that the RIBA said : “We worked equally, we would never compete on fees with other fellow ARCUK”. And then they set it up. The government competition thing forced them to. Whatever reason they did it. We joined together and attacked them. And we sent a letter to the Monopolies commissions and we worked together on that, attacking the RIBA for putting the fees up, and in fact competitive fees.

D – And did you have an impact?

JM – I don’t know…(he laughs)

D – And so, when the eight to ten groups formed, did you come up with a set of principles or a manifesto, or something?

JM – for each group, I guess so… Yes, I think so.

D – And did that establish how you were then going to progress?

JM – I remember..I found another bit of paper. And we would take then it to the next congress. We said : “This is wherever we are with our Public Design Service and here are our objectives.” And the congress would agree or not agree. And in fact, we would agree. Because each group would come up with their objectives. And I am sure we agree them all. We would be supportive. We knew all the people by this time…

D – Did you find there was a particular way of working that was most helpful in forging the collectiveness?

JM – I can’t remember. In a way, we worked together. We didn’t compete…


So for example, I know John Allan… He lives in Crouch End, now, just not very far from here. Previously, he used to lived near Finsbury Park. But I used to go and visit John Allan quite a lot. And we would have meetings and discussions in the evenings. And he would be pursuing his private sector thing… Idealistic private sector organisation like Avanti. Whereas I would be pursuing mine. And we would go and meet and talk about NAM, and what we ought to be de doing and so on… So these meetings must have gone on. I remember mines with John Allan. But I am sure… And these liaison groups we had, also people would talk… Also I remember ??Lenny??. She was from Croydon. She came to the Harrogate conference. She and Ursula got together to persuade us to follow the women’s Movement. And ??Lenny?? sometimes after that used to come to London and she would stay with us… So we would have chat… And that went on probably quite a lot. That was just me. But the others would be the same… We would go to Sheffield for our meetings, we would have discussions and learn about the people… Things would happen there… I found a letter from John ?Mitchell?, who was a student at Nottingham, and a part of our group, and also Communist Party. And John Mitchell? sent me a letter, a hand written letter saying : “Would you come to our conference we are having in Nottingham and speak”. Fine… All of that kind of things went on… And John Allan the other day was talking about how a group of us went to Cardiff for a conference there and slept on the floor of ??Lenny??? house, or flat or whatever… There was quite a lot of working together… And there was this guys, David Roebuck, who worked with John Allan as a partner in his firm. I used to go and see David Roebuck as well quite a lot.

S- So the main project you were involved within NAM was the Public Design Service? What were the notable outcomes of the project?

JM – I think I will go back to a question’s David asked. There were quite a lot of notable outcomes. But one of the first outcome was that we sent… The RIBA began to push public design… And I wrote this thing on behalf of our group and sent it to the then Minister of Housing and Construction. Because the RIBA were pushing community architecture. And we basically attacked them. What we showed was, we said: why are we doing it… And we said this graphic story why we are doing it… (he handles paper). This is the amount… This is the private sector… What’s this? New commission for private architect, this was in 1978, shut down in 1977. And… Proportion of new public work for public authorities certified by private practices. It’s a way down as well… In a way, I thought that it wasn’t a bad report, because it summarized what we were doing and what our objectives were and set it out on paper. And it was quite well publicized in BD. There was a BD reporter called John ????? who wrote quite an amusing report on this report…

S – And did you come across any issues doing this kind of work? I guess the public design service was more of a lobbying organisation rather than an actual design service itself?

JM – Yes, it wasn’t a design service. Well… What we were in that sense is a bit like yourselves now. We were getting together to figure out how it should it be done. Because we understood that things were not perfect in the public sector. So we produced in this book, this booklet, we produced intern proposals. Which are these (he handles papers) that should be adopted by public authorities. I am sure you have this as well. So what happened then is that… To answer your question. (he shuffles papers) So ok….I have here the most… After I left BDP… I left BDP in 1976 to do an MA at the Bartlett. Because I became very interested in how design was evaluated. The reason for that was that I had done a design scheme in Exeter. It was for a private organisation. And one of the partners – directors of this organization was quite good. He had come from one of the big firms. Another one wasn’t so good, his name was David Pretty. He still exists as David Pretty…. Anyway… Why am I telling you this… All right, I designed this housing scheme. First of all, I met some tactical errors… There was this huge site, beautiful site : it was a sloping site. They wanted a variety of different types of houses : private, public and starters homes. The interesting thing is that at that time, starters homes were a big thing. And I designed some what I thought were quite clever starters’ homes. But I let my politics take control. And I pushed the public sector housing, the council housing. And they were up on the hill. And I thought they were very well designed. And indeed, we used to go to France and I learned from France. In France, they design things much differently from us on hills… Much better, I think. In a sense I copied the French design method of building on a hill… So I designed this housing scheme. And… I submitted the planning application. And we went to Exeter. And there was an objection. And there was a big meeting, with people who were objecting. The planners organized it. And I went and we tried to persuade them… But they won. And I suppose I wondered why. Of course I understood they didn’t want council housing. But I thought well it’s very nice housing… And also another bit of the story that is worth keeping, is that Bill Jack was the partner. And after it was rejected, I went to see Bill jack. And I said : “Look, you’d better take me off this job.” Because the director who was left, David Pretty, he and I did not get on. And when we used to go on the train to Exeter, he would come looking for me… I would try and avoid him. Sometimes in these days, I would used to have my breakfast on the train. This is the old British railways… One time he came on and sat besides me, and he talked loudly in a sexist and stupid kind of way… I really thought I don’t want to sit with that guy ever again. So I used to get first class tickets, I didn’t get them : the PA got them… So I started to get second class so that David Pretty wouldn’t find me. And indeed I found second class much more pleasant. Because first class then with these carriages, with people on each side: fat old English men, as I will call them then. And me… And I was much happier in second class. So Why… What was the question you asked me?

D- Were there certain issues you encountered?

JM- So this scheme of mine was rejected. Even though I thought it was very very good. And this is why I went to do an MA to try and understand how design is evaluated. And I took a year off to do it. At the same time, I was busy in NAM. All of that was quite insane… But I went to Bill Jack and I told him about this problem I had with David Pretty. I said to him : “Look if you want to keep this job, you had better to put me off the job and put another architect in charge. Because David Pretty doesn’t like me and he doesn’t like my scheme”. It was the other guy who backed the scheme. Bill Jack said : “No I am not going to do that. I didn’t come all the way down from Scotland to build dingbats on the beautiful hills of Exeter.” So he refused. But in a way, my prediction was right. In due course, they stopped our contract and stuff…. So I went then to the Bartlett to find out why, I suppose…

D- Can I just ask before we move on. And maybe it is a good time to have a break… We are probably half way through.… You sat out the sort of notables outcomes you collectively came up within the Public Design group. And you have explained the form of lobbying the ARCUK strand took and SLATE itself was its own outcome. What were the outcomes of the other five groups in operation?

JM – I am sorry I couldn’t answer that. But that information would be there. And it would be in… You know, I have some SLATEs here. And John Allan has a lot of SLATEs. You remember Emma?

D- I have got them all…

JM – Oh Have you? So they would be in there. What people were doing… I don’t know the answer to that.


They take a break.

2nd recording

D – I was about to ask what the practicalities were of setting up NAM?

JM – I remembered we obtained founding from the Rowntree trust to set up our office firstly in ?Woolford? street and then in 9 Poland street for our liaison groups. What I remembered were many many meetings… And writing letters to AJ and BD… What I can’t remember is how we actually manage to persuade Rowntree to give us money… I can’t remember who did that. I think it was me… That was the beauty of NAM. That all these people would do things… John Allan seems to remember… Well that’s good…

D – And did you have a strategy for advertising? Or was it through publicity, through the AJ or other journals?

JM – Yes. And through SLATEs. And well when I looked at them, I think : god, they were brilliant. Of course, that was due to the people like Andy and Gilles and whoever else produced and designed them.

D – And how were they distributed?

JM – I can’t remember… We had to pay for them.

S – They were professionally printed…

JM shuffles through paper– What I am looking for is some SLATEs. So that it might tell us… So here is one. Here is another…

S – Issue number one. exclusive. NAM…

D – Can you remember how often the different geographic groups met? You said that you were part of the Central London group, but there were also groups in Cheltenham, all over… Were there a set of monthly meetings?

JM – I guess there were. I can’t remember now how regularly we met…

D – And would there have been parallel meetings with the specialist strands of NAM?

JM – Yes, like the public design groups. With the separate groups, we would meet separately. So I wonder how we ever did it… On Saturdays, I would be off to Sheffield. Then, in the evenings, you would be working away and talking. So there must have been a lot of talking…

S – So it says in here : “If you would like to work for SLATE, you can join the committee or suggest topics that you prefer.” And it also says : “If you want to subscribe, there is a subscription form at the back of the magazine.” and it was published by the liaison group of the New Architecture Movement and printed by Women in Print10 who were based in SE17.

JM – Ah! That’s interesting. When I looked at them… They are very very good. And very witty. Bloody well done whoever did it!


D – Were you all invited to contribute to it or was it very much the members who wrote?

JM – You were invited. Or you could just go along. Because when I was at the Bartlett. I became very interested and reading a lot of historical stuffs… I begun to write articles in SLATE about histories and recommended what people should read and stuff like that…

D – I just found this. I would like to read out, in case that’s also jugged your memory. There’s a NAM Congress 1979’s introduction to NAM that concludes : “ These are some of the more important campaigns and activities that NAM has mounted or been involved over the past four years. The Green Ban Campaign11 between Trade Unionists and Environmentalists is the same ban in Post Office buildings. Trade Unions organisations within the largely unorganised field of private sector building design. Nominations and subsequent elections of counsellors on the Architecture Registration of the UK. And subsequently campaigning within the council and ????? in the public interest. Preparing and campaigning for the reform of local authorities architects’ offices and more recently their defence. Working towards a feminist perspective on building design and setting up a cooperative practice to design for women’s groups. Publishing the magazine SLATE. Submitting evidence to the Monopolies Commission against the mandatory minimum fees scale promoted by the RIBA and the ARCUK and working towards an understanding of the relations between architects and building users, particularly in the practice of community architecture.” That sounds quite…

JM – Quite good. That’s quite a good summary to have.

D – Yes, fantastic. So were they quite autonomous then each of the strands? So you wouldn’t have been necessarily involved at all in the Green Ban or…

JM – Yes, we were. That was run by the guy from Birmingham, who was the UCATT12 leader in Birmingham, who was a communist : Peter Carter… Very very good guy…. Peter Carter was involved in our meetings in Birmingham which I referred to…. So in a way, I was involved in ARCUK. So one tended to be involved in… So one you were in one group you argued the case for whatever was… So you could sort of combine them, I suppose. So people were in different groups…

D – Can you remember how, as a non-hierarchical organization, how the meetings were structured? Was someone to volunteer to take an agenda or take notes? or…

JM- I can’t remember that, to be honest. There must have been some kind of way of doing it.

D – Did you communicate outside of the meetings? You mentioned that you and John, and Gilles would have met up separately.

JM – Yes, we did. I think… Certainly once a year, we were supposed to report to the next congress. But I guess, we did it more often than that, we would report to the liaison groups as well, I think…

D – Did you find there was a particular more successful strategy to reach a sort of goal at any moments? That they were certain things that worked better than others? That’s a hard question… That’s a very pointed question…

JM – That’s a very good question… And I am afraid I don’t know the answer. Somehow it was the working together that was really quite important. And I think… Collaborating… And one saw that when that thing, sort of little problems we had and that worked finally between ???Marion and Marie??…. We never ever had issues like that… And I am using stories. We met this guys, Andy. We met this guys through work. Are you recording this?

D – I can stop it.


JM- No, that’s ok. And there was this guy. His name : Raphael ?Juda?, I think. He said he would help us. And we were explaining the problems that had gone before… And I had also showed him this parameters thing that I can not find. And he is that witty guy. And he said : “ Oh what you want to do is to set up a new group, called the NAM website group. And then you will just do it yourself and you won’t have to involved anybody else…”

D – Fabulous!

JM – Quite witty. He sort of grasps it instantly, the issue: the whole thing…

D – So did you feel that the autonomy that each group had made it perhaps more productive to reach your goals? if you are not all fighting all the battles…

JM – Yes, I think so. Looking at it again, I keep saying this. Without the women’s advice, we would have never made it.

D – Can I ask one further question on the Women’s group? Were there a particular women’s group that you were influenced by? Was it within the build environment? Or ?

JM – No… There were a number of women at this Harrogate conference. And the two women… And Ursula went with me. But the two women who I remembered being very very active in this argument about the Women’s movement, were Ursula and ??Lenny?? from Cardiff. The two of them sort of combined together… Obviously both of them had been active in the Women’s Movement and understood how it worked or rather how things didn’t work… They were the main ones pushing it. But others would have been there as well, including Marion?, actually, who was more provocative, really… Last year or whenever it was… Was it two years ago?

D – And the groups they were part of? Were they women in work? Feminist organisations? Or ?

JM – Both of that… I would have to pass over to them… Because I knew, I read and hear in SLATE about MATRIX13 movement. But.. And they also had a practice, I think… I am sure, I read about it there…. I am sure in of these meetings, we had a ?Tony Bronze?, little women there who had been part of this practice. In other words, women got together and worked together to do architecture.

D – And still fed back into NAM.

S – We talked a little bit about working for BDP. Did you have any other commitments? Family? How did you manage to juggle?

JM – Yes, all right… I see, yes… I was working for BDP. And then, we were married. Ursula worked in the Community Development Project in Canning Town at that time. We had a daughter, born in 1977, just before I finished my thesis. My thesis was supposed to be finished before Helene was born, but it wasn’t. And also, Helene was a bit late in being born. But I was even later in finishing my thesis…

S – And so do you know if other members also had… How they manage to juggle organizing with working life?

JM – I don’t know. Somehow, we didn’t talk about that.

D – There is another guest.

(A dog comes in)

JM – hello Bella. Oh god, is it that time? No. She is just early.


D – Another question is the relationship that NAM had with other key architectural built environment organisations like the RIBA or ARCUK?

JM – Ok yes, so… Like I said earlier… We kind of were opposed to the RIBA. That’s for sure… Maybe not quite as aggressively as ARC, but… We understood we worked on the same side.

D – What were the reasons for that?

JM – I think it was very clear that the RIBA was an organization of private architects, essentially. And these private architects, you know, it was a force of this world. In a way, when you looked at the AJs and BDs: it was all about these firms. Not really about the staff who did all the work, and so on and so on… It was all about these celebrities really in a sense… But… What was your question?

D – The relationship between NAM and these key architectural organizations?

JM – Well… I suppose we got on quite well with people in ARCUK. Because we had to do work, we understood that’s how it worked. The ARCUK meetings were huge meetings, with great number of people. And there would be a great number of us. And I think that’s because… You know, it makes you more powerful to have such a few of you, because you can come in and support each other… The RIBA weren’t used to that… Some of them were fine. John Allan mention some guy who he said he met again. Who he had been friendly with. Though we hadn’t been particularly friendly, we might have argued against him there… One of the things I remember in ARCUK… There was some huge fires somewhere on the West Coast, some holiday resort. This had been designed by some well known architect, whose name of course I have forgotten… And ARCUK was investigating it and we were on the group. A part of the investigation, whatever it was called, was pushing for these people to be removed from ARCUK or whatever…. I remember that. I can’t remember the result, but I remember the fire. So Grenfell was not the first fire… It was very clear that we thought that someone, an architect, hadn’t done his job properly…

S- So, were you actually part of a union?

JM – Yes, I was part of a union all along. When I was in Co???, I was part of NALGO14. It’s now call Unison15. And then, I joined a union when I worked in other offices. I joined a union called ASTMS, which was called Association of Scientific Technical and Managerial Staff… Then when NAM had its conference on unionisation, it decided… A number of unions were competing, it is not quite the right word…. Some would argue for some unions, some for others. Eventually, it was decided that we should join TASS16, which was Technical Administrative and Supervisors Staff. It is quite a collar branch of the AUEW17. It used to be formed of draftsmen who used to work in the building industry. So, I joined TASS after that. We all were. I remember going to TASS meetings. TASS was totally run by the Communist Party. They regarded us with a great deal of suspicion… But anyway, there it was, we were members of TASS.

S – When you say that most architects at that time, were they part ofAEUW?

JM – No, they weren’t… Afterwards I wondered. Was it the right choice? We have discussed this… And I wondered… Was it the right choice… Because… Shall we not have gone for the white collar section of UCAAT. If they had a collar section, I can’t remember if they had… I guess they must have had. Because that would be, maybe more emotionally attached…. Architects might find that more emotionally appealing. Because TASS was, somewhat… Distant… After that, when I came to Haringey, I joined NALGO. NALGO was very very important in achieving what we achieved in Haringey.

S – And do you know what was the reason behind architects not joining the unions?

JM – No, I don’t… And… Very good question, of course. Sometimes, we used to speculate on that too. Sometimes we used to wonder : Is it because when we were trained, we were trained very much individually, as individuals… ? Whereas when you work, you work in teams… When I first came to London, I worked at Robert MatthewJohnson-Marshall & Partners18. It was bloody awful. I joined them because I knew they had a good reputation. Because Robert Matthew had involved with the LCC19. They were the worst firm I ever worked for… They make people compete against each other, you know… But the interesting thing about it, was that they managed to bring people together. Because we got out at lunch time, for the drinks, become friends… I became very friendly with this guy, Stefano ????, an Italian, who they brought in, I think, they brought him to undermine me…. But Stefano and I got on very well together. And I remember one time being asked by one of the partner : “You know, Stefano”… At the time, there was lots of stuffs going on in Italy… It was the centre of communism. There was all these communists… And the American had prevented them being elected. And this guy, the partner, said to me : “I just realised when Stefano must have been training, he must have been training when all this was going on. Is he one of these kind of communist?” I said : “No idea, you had better asked him. He does his job very well, he is a very nice guy. But you had better ask him” Subsequently… Since then, Stefano and I have stayed together. We remained friends. and Stefano said to me: “Yes he did asked me, he called me in and asked me : was he a member of the Communist Party and was he there to make trouble?”. He said to me one time : “You know, you think very much more like a public sector person.” I left and I joined Alex Gordon and Partners who were on Percy Street. Alex Gordon and Partners were a little firm. Alex Gordon20 was the president of the RIBA. He must have sold himself very well in the BD and the AJ. Because his office was described as being particularly good in terms of layout and equipment, and all that. So I went to work there in Percy Street. And I met John ??Burney?. Again the one good thing about it was that I met John Burney. Nothing else about the office at all… After a month, I handed in my notice. I just… Because I designed a school in Heathrow…A very good school I think… And to get the partner is due…When it was open, he said : “It’s been very successful, come and see it.” But before that, we had arguments… I said : “If you are doing a job, you have to do it properly. You know, you do the design, the working drawings… You do everything.” He said : “You can cut the working drawings, you don’t need it all.” I said : “No, you can’t, it will never worked unless it is all thought out before the building gets on site”. He didn’t buy that. And I could hear John Burney arguing with him as well. So I left and I joined BDP, who were just around the corner. BDP was the total opposite of that. I remember my first day at BDP, seating with the guy I was working for. And they had a magazine, the magazine BDP. And the guy I was working under, must have been editing the magazine. And it was very critical of partners. It was saying : “You know, these partners shouldn’t be driving to work in their big cars, they are ruining the environment.” And I was saying : “My God, is it what you are saying about the partners.” And that in a way, was BDP. This guy was doing well in the office, he was allowed to be critical. So BDP was very very different…In a sense, you might say that some of the BDP ideas, I continued to use in NAM and brought it to Haringey as well : this need for discussion about everything, really.

D – And with your movement between unions, did you find there were different focuses of each of the unions? Were there all about the labour rights, the work, or were there more collective goals?

JM – I can’t remember. What I do remember is that TASS had a very good magazine, that I used to read and enjoyed. So in my head, I quite liked TASS magazine. It was run by some woman who was a communist who was really quite good. In those days, I felt quite warm to the Communist Party, actually. I never joined them.

D – Were you ever a member of UCATT?

JM – No. UCATT is…?

D – Construction and…

JM – UCATT ! The building workers union.

D – Yes.

JM – No I wasn’t. But I was saying just a minute ago…It’s a very good question. We speculated afterwards. Maybe if we had chosen the white collar section of UCATT, whatever that is, it might have been better… Because architects might have thought : “Ah, I will be closer to the building workers, or stuffs…” That’s something worth thinking about. Probably it’s worth.. I could go through my papers but… To see… I can’t remember what unions were considered at the NAM conference. But I am sure ASTMS would be. Because… We were in ASTM. It was the main white collar union at that time. And… UCATT probably would have been. Because we worked very closely with this guy: Peter Carter, up in Birmingham. And he supported us in this conference we held in Birmingham.

S- Do you think you can see any parallels in the issues you were facing then in practice and issues that appear today?

JM – All I would say, talking to you and your comrades… Things are a thousand times worst today. And…

On the other hand, things are so bad… You know… People are in these offices… Maybe… Maybe they will go for something. But I think you are right, it needs to be carefully build it up, to figure out why it didn’t work.

D – So you mentioned Grenfell : the parallel between seeking accountability for the fire, back in the 1970s on the coast. Were there also other sort of key moments that you think are coming back today, like questions on users’ involvement, conservation or renovation?

JM – Right… There were important issues… There was some corrupted guy as well, a guy jailed in Newcastle. I forgot his name… Can you remember?


And he had been involved in some private practices. Maybe it was this private practice, down this place that had burned down. I can’t remember but… Yes, there had been this guy from Newcastle. Very well known guy… He is in these papers somewhere, I saw him this morning… And there was this firm who were involved with him… So there was corruption going on at that time. And I guess, there is still today among other things…

D – Is it Smith?

JM – Smith. T. Dan Smith21. God, it’s good that you have a good memory. T. Dan Smith is the name of that guy they put in jail.

D – He lived in the tower block that he…

JM- The other thing is that T. Dan Smith was very…you know, very progressive, it appeared. And then, this happened…

D- Do you get a sense…I know that when we have met in the past, you have said that you see lots of parallel in massive groups around…

JM – Yes, I do. I particularly remember going around the Haggerston estate. You took us around. And I can see that in Haggerston estate, all it needs is a bit of rehab… What I have learned is that it is much much more economical to rehab than it is to knock down and build again. So obviously, there was some social cleansing going on, not saving money… And the same is going on here in Haringey, of course. And this evening, there is a meeting of the Labour party where we select – deselect our councillors. So we will be going this evening. And I was reminded today, you know. So you come, bring evidences of who you are, your passports, evidence of your address and blablabla… So that’s going on, this evening.

D- I guess the key issue here, is the Haringey development?

JM – And they are also renovating the Town Hall…And… With some eastern company.

D – Do you think there is a sea change then, politically and professionally?

JM – I think… There is… Politically, it is gradually coming. Because, the worst of the councillor… The second worst of the councillor here has been kicked out. Strickland22 was his name, in Noel Park. He was in charge of housing… And he was totally Blairite, very articulate guy, from Lancashire or something… Northern accent. And he was all into privatisation. And when I was challenging him about things at meetings…. You know… He never ever knew that there used to be an architect department here. And he very proudly boasted that he had got these private architects, called McAslan… Is that the name?

D – John McAslan.

JM – Who John Allan doesn’t have a high opinion of…. And McAslan was hiring local people to be architectural students23. So I wrote to The Guardian24 and told them : “Did you know that we had eight area teams and each one of our teams hired two local people. Not hired, but helped them to become architects. So in fact, we had hired sixteen students architects in our time.” No, he didn’t know that, that was something in the past, that was the public sector. And New Labour doesn’t like the public sector, basically… Anyway, how did I get on to that?

D – I was asking you… I suppose this will feed in quite nicely with the next question which is : what lessons we might draw from your experience?

JM – Lessons… I think the main lesson you draw from our experience is that by working together, you can achieve a great deal. In a way, how you work together is obviously very very important.

S – So, to kind of round the interview, so what were the reasons that NAM came to an end?

JM – Oh. It came to an end.. It’s a good question. Because in a way, the idea of the New Architecture Movement was to implement these ideas. So I went to Haringey to implement the Public Design Service. And John Allan went and implemented Avanti… And others did similar things. In a sense, our idea was to implement in practice, not to be an organisation. So, in a sense, we had figured that by 1981: we had done that…

S – It was a movement…

JM – Yes, it was a movement. And… There is a comparison though… I remember with Dexter Hutfield?, who ran the centre for public services. And they still exist as far as I know. And what they did was that they helped local authorities and unions. And they did architecture for them, and research, and stuffs, and reports… And they kept going… And I remember from when we were in NAM, they were doing something in Hackney, some housing, something like that. They were quite a good organisation as well. Still are.

D – So you mentioned how each of you, the key figure perhaps took forward certain goals or principles through to subsequent work. Can you explain a bit more how it might have shaped you working in Haringey… And what things you brought from NAM into Haringey, as en employee and perhaps as an employer later on?

JM – In a way, what was interesting was that… It’s an interesting question…. We, in Haringey, we… I chose Haringey for two reasons. One is that I lived here. Secondly, they had developed an early commitment to users’ participation. And in 1976, the Council had initiated a cooperative housing project in which future tenants were invited to take part in the design. This was run by a councillor called George Meehan25, who eventually became the chair of housing when I worked there. Maybe… Anyway, the architect for this new built scheme was Bert Dinnage26 who was not only radically minded but he was also a very good architect. So basically, the council and the staff and the architect services were familiar with and committed to the ideas of NAM in a way… To the idea of tenants and users involvement in design… They were already committed as it were. So… And interestingly when I went there… After I met Bert Dinnage to see if he thought that NAM ideas could be implemented in Haringey. At the pub of the road there when I was still at the Bartlett… After I completed my M.A. at the Bartlett, I got a job in Haringey Central Area team in 1978… And the Central Area team was different from the rest. We were as it were seconded from the architect service. It was a multidisciplinary team with planners and people who looked after estates and so on… And I worked there as an architect. But I was also part of the union: NALGO. And I began then to work with Bert to persuade him here in the architect service to change. Basically, we were arguing for these, whatever they are: interim proposals… (he shuffles paper). Basically, about local area control over resources, all this stuff… Design team should be area based, not function based. They should be multidisciplinary. And architecture committee, abolish pools between team leader and chief architect and establish joint working groups with labour organization. So that is what we pushed for gradually and slowly… And I have to say, the, then borough architect, Alan Weitzel27 was quite sympathetic to us. He was quite a good guy. He didn’t get on very well with the council because… He wasn’t used.. He was more formal in the way he dealt with them. He was quite a good man. And eventually he had a stroke and I went to see him… And Alan Weitzel supported us, not everybody supported us… The other thing, there were all sorts of other people at that time working in Haringey, including PR, as you call it now. It used to be called something else… PR people who hire people. People in PR were very supportive of us. And so, all the time we did something, they would support us. They would help us write reports, all that stuff… So, in other words, there were support. And the chief executive was supportive of us… So, at that time they were four looking people working around. So we were not fighting against, we were supported. And there were all like minded people there. And at the same time, there were young Labour councillors, who had emerged from tenants struggles, like Jeremy Corbyn and Bernie Grant28, who were beginning to be elected. And they were fully supportive of our ideas. So, then, we were working with like minded people to get the service change and this was done through unions’ meetings.

Weitzel was very supportive. And the first change came in 1979. One year after I started working in the Central Area Team. It was agreed that Area Design Team would be appointed. I then stood for appointment as Team Leader. I was appointed for the Wood Green Area Team. I was appointed by a man you might have heard called : Jeremy Corbyn, who was then the chair of the planning committee. So Jeremy appointed me. And… He was very… I understood he was asking me very political questions, although they were related to architecture, but… I understood the questions and I answered honestly. And I was appointed. And then when we were appointed, he supported us and he supported us in other things and so on.. So we were very fortunate… And we then carried out the rehab of the historic Nothumberland Park estate29, working with tenants… And you know, we would go and see the tenants. And… To ask, you know, this is the design and what do you think… And they would agree… And then we would carry on and we got…We got people… Agree… Sometimes it was quite difficult. Because once we would do a street, we explained to the Council we needed to do the roof first. That’s what we learned. So basically, the street was going to be rehabed. It would have scaffolding it up, for a year : the roofs would be done first. So I persuaded the treasurers that this was the way forward, and the most economical way forward, which is what treasurer has interested in, in terms of rehab. And that was done… The tenants, they were involved in the design of the show house at each phase. And then tenant’s satisfaction’s survey were done after each phase was completed. And that was done by architectural students from Cheltenham. And… Yeah… So that… So NAM ideas in a way did come through there to… To Haringey. But, in a sense, the ideas were already there, I think. So, it wasn’t difficult. One of the thing, you know, it was the BDP multidisciplinary thing that was more difficult. That took us until 198530… Because architects used to be in health service in multidisciplinary services… In architects offices, you would have the architects group, the architects team, whatever it is called: the architects section, let’s call it…


Then you would have quantity surveyors… Then you would have engineers… Then you would have clerks of work… Then you would have admin… You know, you would have all these separate things… Each with its own head. And what we were saying was: it has to be all one team… And you know… And the team leader in a sense, would be responsible for them all. And they would be responsible for the team leader. What we actually also did. Because that’s something that used to go on every month, was that : there would be meetings, let’s say, of quantity surveyors, where people would share the latest ideas and problems among themselves. So we established, as well as having multidisciplinary teams, we established meetings every months of the different professions, so they could learn from each other… And yeah, and in a way, that work quite well, I think. But that was a fight. But that took a while to get agreed… Because people who would already be chief quantity surveyor, it no longer worked… Because we wouldn’t have one, you would be just a regular quantity surveyor. That wasn’t allowed to be done. And… But in the end, it worked. And I have to say, that was a BDP idea. And of course, it is very important. And I understand now, since working for the health service. It is also multidisciplinary working. And that’s why it is successful, really. Multidisciplinary working is very very essential, because in a sense, you are all equal.

D – It is really fascinating how just the conduce of atmosphere, or way of being in the council allowed the goals you aspired towards, to really take roots. How about the other strands then, with John Allan and Avanti? Were there a sense that architects working in more private individualist practices also transformed in a similar fashion?

JM – Well… Certainly in Avanti. Because Avanti had similar ideas, you know that everybody, BDP like ideas, everybody was responsible. So Avanti was a very good firm. And they did and probably still are… They did mostly public sector work: health work. So for example, my own doctor surgery, down in Archway, was designed by Avanti. And…

D – And do you know any other groups or firms?

JM – No, I don’t know. There was Support31 that ?Tony Brown? ran. And I am sure that Support would have been working with tenants. I am sure they were. They would worked in the same way. And the Women’s Movement, I am sure also. But…

D – Do you get a sense… What I have just been thinking about is how many different boundaries and pioneering strands of campaigning that you took forward in NAM… I have just been thinking about the relationships between the architects and the users, architects and other architects, architects and other professionals.. You are breaking all of those down and you are furthering ideas of more participatory design… And actually educating people who otherwise wouldn’t have access to or the means to join an architectural education… I am just wondering about : two strands around, environmental or sustainable concerns – if the Green Ban Campaign and other things were part of NAM – but also conservation – if you were also the root of NAM might have been active in saving Covent Garden market32… I suppose Avanti is strongly into conservation…

JM – That’s a very good question. And one answer is that there was a group. It was : the asbestos group, I think it was called, on this list that I can’t find… There was this big fight against asbestos at that time… We were also… Nam was also pushing and working with, against that… Asbestos… And I remember… When I was in … With Robert Matthews. There was a guy there, a wealthy guy, who was very into the energy saving, and so on… And that’s where I first came across it. Actually, there were good people around. And some of the firm were not good. I guess, you find good people everywhere really…

D – I seem to recall, but I don’t know If I misremember that you or Nam or certain members of NAM had taken direct action against a certain construction practice at an event ?

JM – Really? What was that?

D – I think there was a big construction gathering. And there was a certain stall promoting something rather…

JM – All right… Somehow, I vaguely remember that. But I can’t precisely remember who it was…Somehow, it would be in there… But, I can’t quite remember who. I will just tell you one other thing in terms of our groups. We had our teams in Haringey here, we had eight teams here. We had a team in Broadwater Farm33 who worked with tenants and stuff… Tenants in fact were involved in hiring them, the people… And… The first guy we hired, had worked at Broadway Farm before. He was a very nice guy, he was an Indian guy34. But he was somewhat afraid of the tenants. He would battle with the tenants. Every now and again, he would call a meeting to settle down. I would go down with ????, who was another guy I worked with. And we would meet these young people. And they would deliberately try and intimidate us, you know. They would fill a room with young black guys, if you can imagine, and try and attack us. But I understood that they supported us. So I was never concerned… The team leader, in fact we made a bit of a mistake with him that was the truth. Because he was afraid. And he was accused by one of the leaders down there… We were accused of appointing him because he was black. We didn’t appointed him because he was black. We appointed him because he already worked here, because he knew the estate, whereas none of us did. And this guy, nice guy he was, every time we had one of this battle, he would say: “I want to leave, I want to stand down”. And I would persuade him not. And one day, I thought, I let him stand down. Because it can’t go on, this battling. And I spoke to a guy, working in another team of architects : George Nicola. He was Cypriot. He was very good, very charming, very good with dealing with people. So I said to George : “You know, we have this team leader job in Broadwater farm, would you be interested in standing for it?” He said: “Yes, he would.” So the next time, this poor fellow resigned, I accepted it. And then, George went there. And George did very very well35. And, this is really the point of my story. Just before I left Haringey, George Meehan said to me, George Meehan, the head of housing : “I have got a complaint, they have gone ?????. “And I said : “George, isn’t that a compliment?”

D – I think we are out of questions. But I was going to ask before we wrap up, if you could just… you prepare lots of things for us to look at, out here. If you could just run us through it, if we lean over your shoulder and you can tell us some of the thing.

JM – Some of the things, you must have had before… (he shuffles papers). This is the talk I gave at the Bartlett, I handed some stuff out to you. This one. And I handed some stuff out… These are my talk notes, I must have handed out. I can give lists of these… Because I was thinking… Actually, where ever it is… Too much papers…

D- Shall we go through which one in turn? and then we can discount it.

JM – These are my notes for the talk. This looks like an original one. Now where did I put that thing… Ah Here it is. This thing I have got as a pdf. I sent it to you.

D – I have got that. It’s fabulous.

S- I have it as well.

JM That thing came from it. So you have it.

D – Can I ask about the practicality? I was struck by how rigorous that report is. Would that have been collectively drafted?

JM – Well, I drafted it actually… And then I would go to others, John Burnham, not John Burnham but John Mitchell actually who was in Nottingham. You know to get more advices and stuffs. In a sense, I suppose, that what we did in NAM, somebody would do it, and then they say : what do you think..

D – And everyone would sign off…

JM – And then they would suggest : do this, this and this… That’s what I saw at John’s house, the other day. He had this things… He had papers, handwritten with scribbles on them suggesting changes. That’s what happened at meetings, someone would do it. And then…

D – You would collectively respond…

JM – Yes. And give advice and someone would draft it.

D – It was never attributed to one person?

JM – No… That’s true. In John Allan’s report, he lists this and he attributes it : he knew that I wrote it but he attributes it to the Public Design Service. So…

D – Can you talk us through the other things you have got ?

JM – So this is the draft talk… That’s just… That ‘s probably is quite interesting. That’s listing all the people that were in our… There were more…There were other people here. ?Sandy Brown? lived in Clapton at that time!

D – So there is fifteen people listed. Would that have been the extent of the …?

JM – I don’t think all of these were… I think they came to this meeting in Birmingham. I think this is what this is about. These would be the people : Adam, Me, Bruce Smith from Sheffield, Dave Green from Sheffield, Howard Smith36 from ????, John Mitchell from Nottingham, Gordon from Sheffield, and somebody, and Clive from Nottingham… And what is this ? Is it John, please add to it. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven… This would be about nine or so.

D – Great. Is that the sort of numbers in each group?

JM – Probably. If you need more info, ask John. I think, he would have that information. And… I was amazed at what he has got…

D – Yes, fantastic. And this report, you have got in here.

JM – Oh! this is my thesis. Someone suggested to me, I ought to publish this thesis. Because recently, your friend Paul Watt asked me for a copy of it, after Grenfell. Because I wrote to a paper and said something37


D – Because you talk about the Deeplish Study38, didn’t you?

JM – I was wrong, the paper was wrong. So, I thought I need to get advice from someone.

D – I like reading it. I think I gave you some feedback…

JM – Oh, did you ? So maybe you could…

D – I can find that and re-send it.

JM – Yes…. Some advice… What I ? How it could be? Before I… So that’s what’s that doing there, just to remind me. So… So this is a document that… And also… I got from John…. This is the New Architecture Movement. I don’t know if I ever gave it to you?

D – I think I might…

JM – I am sure, I handed this out to you before. This is the article in BuildingDesign, which was very favourable about this report.

D – Yes. I put this all on… I was going to ask. How… When you receive slightly cynical or critical press within the industry journals, did that entail you to do more, or did that dissuade you?

JM – No, no, no.. It wasn’t as bad as it is now, with Facebook, and Twitter and all that stuff… You know, it takes a week for AJ or BD to do something. We would meet together and we would decide to write a letter sometimes.

D – In response?

JM – In response, yes. I found in here a letter doing exactly what you are saying, written by somebody called Morris Williams, NAM. So obviously, that was William Morris… Back to front, wasn’t it.

(they laugh)

D – Great… Crafts and arts… Fabulous. I think we might have taken lots of your time.


1 Ursula Murray : Coventry City Council, Canning Town Community Development Project, Tottenham Employment Project, Haringey Women’s Employment Project, haringey Women’s Employment Project, Head of Services at London Borough of Haringey, PhD, lecturer at Birkbeck University of London.

extract from : Janet Newman, Working the spaces of Power. Activism, Neoliberalism and Gendered Labour, Bloomsbury Academic, New York, 2012. p IX.

2In 1975, BDP was employing 586 staffs, with a turnover of 5.3 £ millions. In comparison, in 2016, BDP was employing 903 staffs, with a turnover of 82.5 £ millions. Source :

BDP’s founder Professor Sir George Grenfell Baines (known affectionately as GG) was born in 1908 and set up in practice as an architect in Preston, UK, in 1937. Four years later he teamed up with two other Preston practices and the Grenfell Baines Group was born. Expansion in various locations in the UK continued throughout the 1940s and 1950s and in 1951 GG was the only northern architect appointed to design a building for the Festival of Britain in London. In 1961, his long cherished ambition of establishing the world’s first interdisciplinary practice was realised and Building Design Partnership (as it was then) was founded.It was a successful formula and on the occasion of his retirement in 1974, GG’s advice was “keep going, getting better. BDP’s policy today remains firmly based on the interdisciplinary approach which was at the root of the original partnership.” source :

3Ursula Murray began her working life in Coventry City Council, where she encountered the government-funded Community

Development Programme. She later moved to London to work on Canning Town CDP : “This was my education. University had been a dead loss – This CDP taught me how to think. My role was to analyse the local economy. It was a fantastically exciting time – different projects were coming together, we were writing join reports and building rich networks. It laster five years, all on short-term contracts.” extract from : Janet Newman, Working the spaces of Power. Activism, Neoliberalism and Gendered Labour, Bloomsbury Academic, New York, 2012. pp 26-27

4In 1968, BDP London office moves to Gresse Street”. Source :

5Not emails but letter. John Murray is referring to a letter that Brian Anson sent to the Architectural Association Archivist, Edward Bottoms on 18 February 2008.

6Skipton (also known as Skipton-in-Craven) is a market town and civil parish in the Craven district of North Yorkshire, England. Historically in the West Riding of Yorkshire, it is on the River Aire and the Leeds and Liverpool Canal to the south of the Yorkshire Dales, 16 miles (26 km) northwest of Bradford and 38 miles (61 km) west of York. Skipton boomed during the Industrial Revolution, as it lay on the Leeds-Liverpool Canal, between the major cities of Leeds and Liverpool. Many mills sprung up, including:

High Mill – The first industrial mill built in Skipton was High Mill, in 1785. Built at the entrance to Skipton Woods, it was a cotton spinning mill powered by water. In 1825 an annex was added with steam power. High Mill was built by Peter Garforth, John Blackburn and James B. Sidgwick. By all accounts Mr Sidgwick was very much in favour of corporal punishment being applied in his premises whenever necessary. High Mill was abandoned when the lease fell in and could not be re-negotiated.

Belle Vue Mills – Built 1828 by John Dewhurst, Belle Vue Mills on Broughton Road in Skipton was built and opened as a spinning and weaving mill, but burned down two years later, and was immediately rebuilt, this time as a cotton mill. It is not known how many looms there were to start with, but in 1852 an extension was added to allow another 385 looms to be housed. In 1870 a further extension was added. In 1882 Dewhurst’s had a floor area of 20,000 square yards spread over 5 storeys, and employed over 800 workers. In 1886 electric lighting was installed. The Belle Vue Mills did spinning, weaving, making of sewing cotton (Sylko) and dyeing. Belle Vue Mill was the home of Kingsley Cards until 2006, and is now a property development.

Low Mill / Sackville Mill – Built in 1839 by John Benson Sidgwick for weft spinning and weaving, on Sackville Street, Skipton. It became known as the Silk Mill after its sale in 1892 to Rickard’s of Airton, who used it in silk making. The mill burned down to the ground in 1908, resulting in the loss of 300 jobs in the town. A new mill called Sackville Mill was erected on the same site, and was later occupied by Yorkshire Water Authority, before eventually being demolished to make way for housing.

Firth Shed – Built 1877, by Samuel Farey, housing 300 looms. Extended in 1906 to add another 200 looms. Manufactured dyed cotton goods and winceys. Farey did not make it through the slump of the 1920s, and sold up to Nutter Ltd of Nelson. Weaving stopped in 1970, and Firth Shed now houses Merrit and Fryer’s, the builders’ merchants and timber yard.

Victoria Mill – Owned by International Textile Co Ltd. It is now a block of flats.

Park Shed / Wilkinson’s Mill – Built 1889 by Thomas Wilkinson, and often known as Wilkinson’s Mill. Wilkinson’s Mill is uncommon in that it is the only mill in Skipton not to be built right next to the canal. Sited on the corner of Shortbank Road and Brougham Street. Park Shed was home to Castle Acoustics, the hi-fi speaker manufacturer. It caught fire in a lightning storm in 2007 and stayed closed throughout the rest of 2007 and 2008 until it was demolished at the end of 2008. The site now is a privately owned housing estate.

Union Mill – Cotton weaving mill, built 1867 by Skipton Land and Building Company, run by Skipton Mill Co Ltd., designed by J. Whitehead of Nelson. 800 looms manufacturing winceys, stripes and checks. Steam-powered, one-storey shed with attached warehouse. Extension added 1872, dyehouse added 1875. Union Mill is now a housing development.

Broughton Road Mill – Built 1897 by the Skipton Room and Power Co Ltd. Burned down (levelled) 1958.

Alexandra Mill – On Keighley Road, Skipton, built 1887 by George Walton, with a weaving shed holding 500 looms, manufacturing dress goods, skirtings and shirtings. Later taken over by Walton Hainsworth and Co.

Source :

7A tenement is a multi-occupancy building of any sort. (…) Tenements make up a large percentage of the housing stock of Edinburgh and Glasgow in Scotland. Glasgow tenements were built to provide high-density housing for the large number of people immigrating to the city in the 19th and early 20th century as a result of the Industrial Revolution, when the city’s population boomed to more than 1 million people. (…) Glasgow tenements were generally built no taller than the width of the street on which they were located; therefore, most are about 3–5 storeys high. Virtually all Glasgow tenements were constructed using red or blonde sandstone, which has become distinctive. A large number of the tenements in Edinburgh and Glasgow were demolished in the 1960s and 1970s because of slum conditions, overcrowding and poor maintenance of the buildings. Perhaps the most striking case of this is seen in the Gorbals district of Glasgow, where virtually all the tenements were demolished to make way for tower blocks, which in turn have been demolished and replaced with newer structures. The Gorbals is a relatively small area and at one time had an estimated 90,000 people living in its tenements, leading to very poor living conditions; now the population is roughly 10,000. However, the many remaining tenements in various areas of both cities have experienced a resurgence in popularity due to their large rooms, high ceilings and ornamental details. Both Glasgow and Edinburgh are still dominated by 19th-century tenement housing, and most of the valuable properties in the west end of Glasgow are tenement houses.”

Source : wikipedia

8A Director of Avanti Architects from 1983 to 2011, John Allan has led all Avanti’s Modern Movement conservation projects and studies.” (…) “The company was established in 1981 and today has a broad portfolio of work in health, education, residential, commercial, regeneration and conservation with projects ranging from £1million to £250 million delivered both in the UK and abroad.” Source :

9ARCUK is the body set up by Parliament under the Architects Registration Acts of 1931 and 1938 to ‘regulate’ the profession, presumably in the public interest, by restricting use of the title of the ‘architect’ and controlling the standard of architectural education. (…) unattached architects : This year, for the first time in ARCUK’s history, only truly unattached architects will be representing the unattached architects. (…) This year will be the first time since 1941 that there will no RIBA member representing unattached architects.(…)” extract from SLATE, issue n.1, March 1977.

The ARB (Architects Registration Board) is the body set up by Parliament in 1997 to regulate the architects’ profession in the UK. Under Section 20 of the Architects Act 1997, the title “architect” is protected. It can only be used in business or practice by people who have had the education, training and experience needed to become an architect and who are registered with ARB.

10 Women in Print, at 16a Iliffe Yard, off Crampton St, London, SE17. Source :

Red Women’s Workshop was a screen-print workshop run as a women’s collective between c 1974 and the early 1990s. It was

a radical campaigning and publicising organisation fully committed to the ideals of the second wave feminist movement.

Red’s activities included the designing and printing of their own posters, postcards and calendars, as well as taking on design and print commissions for other organisations. They also gave talks and demonstrations on screen-printing. Their work was distributed through shops and mail order both nationally and internationally. The group varied in number; overall 25 women worked at See Red during its lifetime. After working from home in the early days, the collective progressed to renting shared space with Women in Print.

11A green ban is a form of strike action, usually taken by a trade union or other organised labour group, which is conducted for environmentalist or conservationist purposes. Green bans were first conducted in Australia in the 1970s by the New South Wales Builders Labourers Federation (BLF). Green bans were never instigated unilaterally by the BLF, all green bans were at the request of, and in support of, residents’ groups. The first green ban was put in place to protect Kelly’s Bush, the last remaining undeveloped bushland in the Sydney suburb of Hunters Hill. A group of local women who had already appealed to the local council, mayor, and the Premier of New South Wales, approached the BLF for help. The BLF asked the women to call a public meeting, which was attended by 600 residents, and formally asked the BLF to prevent construction on the site. The developer, A V Jennings, announced that they would use non-union labour as strike-breakers. In response, BLF members on other A V Jennings construction projects stopped work. A V Jennings eventually abandoned all plans to develop Kelly’s Bush.

source :

12The Union of Construction, Allied Trades and Technicians (UCATT) was a British and Irish trade union, operating in the construction industry. It was founded in 1971, and merged into Unite on 1 January 2017. It was affiliated to the Trades Union Congress and the Labour Party, as well as to the Building and Wood Workers’ International and the EFBWW, European Federation of Building and Wood Workers. (…) UCATT was formed in 1971 following the merger of the Amalgamated Union of Building Trade Workers (AUBTW), the Association of Building Technicians and the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers and Decorators, which had itself been founded the previous year from a merger of the Amalgamated Society of Woodworkers (ASW) and the Amalgamated Society of Painters and Decorators (ASPD).

Source :,_Allied_Trades_and_Technicians

13In 1978, a Feminist design collective called Matrix was established in London. Matrix consisted of a number of women architects who were trying to challenge the ‘man-made environment’, which they saw as a physical manifestation of patriarchy. According to one member of the group: “The Feminist Design Collective, a group of about twenty women was started in 1978. Its title was consciously assembled: the use of the word “feminist” was contentious; no architectural practice in Britain had previously stated their political position so overtly. The use of “design collective”, rather than “architectural practice”, indicated the group’s intention to value non-architects as highly as architects and was influenced by contemporary critiques of professionalism and of architects’ professional institutions by groups such as NAM.” source : Julia Dwyer and Anne Thorne, “Evaluating Matrix: notes from inside the collective,” in Altering Practices (London: Routledge, 2007), 42.

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14The National and Local Government Officers’ Association was a British trade union representing mostly local government “white collar” workers. It was formed in 1905 as the National Association of Local Government Officers, and changed its full name in 1952 while retaining its widely used acronym, NALGO. By the late 1970s it was the largest British union, with over 700,000 members. It was one of three unions which combined to form UNISON in 1993.”

source :

15UNISON is the second largest trade union in the United Kingdom with almost 1.3 million members.The union was formed in 1993 when three public sector trade unions, the National and Local Government Officers Association (NALGO), the National Union of Public Employees (NUPE) and the Confederation of Health Service Employees (COHSE) merged.(…) Members of UNISON are typically from industries within the public sector and generally cover both full-time and part-time support and administrative staff. The majority of people joining UNISON are workers within sectors such as local government, education, the National Health Service Registered Nurses, NHS Managers and Clinical Support Workers. The union also admits ancillary staff such as Health Care Assistants and Assistant Practitioners, including Allied Health Professionals. Probation services, police services, utilities (such as gas, electricity and water), and transport.[7] These ‘Service Groups’ all have their own national and regional democratic structures within UNISON’s constitution” Source :

16The Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Section (almost exclusively known as TASS) was a British trade union. The union was founded in 1913 by 200 draughtsmen, as the Association of Engineering and Shipbuilding Draughtsmen (AESD). It expanded rapidly, and had more than 14,000 member by the end of the decade. Although it declined during the Great Depression, it retained most of its members by offering unemployment benefit, and by 1939 established a new high of 23,000 members, this rising to 44,000 by the end of World War II and over 75,000 by 1968. From 1960, it accepted technicians in ancillary roles, changing its name to the Draughtsmen’s and Allied Technicians’ Association (DATA).In 1970, DATA amalgamated with the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers (AUEFW) and Constructional Engineering Union (CEU) to form the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (AUEW). The former members of DATA formed the Technical and Supervisory Section of the new union. At the 1973 Representative Council Conference it was agreed to rename it the Technical, Administrative and Supervisory Section (TASS). In 1985, after considerable problems within the AUEW, TASS broke away to become an independent union. TASS absorbed the National Union of Gold, Silver and Allied Trades (NUGSAT) in 1981, the National Union of Sheet Metal Workers, Coppersmiths, Heating and Domestic Engineers in 1983, the Association of Pattern makers and Allied Craftsmen in 1984, the Tobacco Workers’ Union in 1986, and the National Society of Metal Mechanics in 1987. In 1988, it merged with the Association of Scientific, Technical and Managerial Staffs (ASTMS) to become the Manufacturing Science and Finance Union (MSF). MSF in turn merged with the AEEU to form Amicus in 2002. This resulted in TASS and the former AUEW (by then part of the AEEU) being re-united within one union.” Source :,_Administrative_and_Supervisory_Section

17The Amalgamated Engineering Union (AEU) was a major British trade union. It merged with the Electrical, Electronic, Telecommunications and Plumbing Union to form the Amalgamated Engineering and Electrical Union in 1992. (…) The AEU merged with the Amalgamated Union of Foundry Workers (AUFW) on 1 January 1968 to form the Amalgamated Union of Engineering and Foundry Workers (AEF), and with the Draughtsmen and Allied Technicians’ Association (DATA) and Constructional Engineering Union in 1971 to form the Amalgamated Union of Engineering Workers (AUEW). The union was now organised on a federal basis, with four sections: Engineering, Foundry, Construction, and Technical, Administrative and Supervisory (TASS). This approach was not a success, as the various sections fell into dispute with each other. In 1984, the Engineering, Foundry and Construction Sections were merged and in 1986 adopted the name Amalgamated Engineering Union once more, while the TASS remained separate and, in 1988, it became entirely independent of the union once more.

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18RMJM (Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall) is one of Britain’s largest international architecture and design firms. Founded in 1956 by architects Robert Matthew and Stirrat Johnson-Marshall, RMJM’s first offices were based in London and Edinburgh. RMJM provides services in sustainable design, masterplanning, urban design, spatial planning, landscape design, arts consultancy, historic preservation, computer visualisation and interior design to a range of clients for a variety of sectors, including mixed-use, education, energy, residential, government and hospitality.In its earlier years, RMJM designed in a functional modern style, with Matthew and Johnson-Marshall as strong proponents of the style in the United Kingdom. Today, RMJM provides architecture, master planning, design, and engineering consultancy services in several sectors. RMJM currently operates out of studios in Edinburgh, London, New York City, Los Angeles, Buenos Aires, Cordoba, La Paz, Monterrey, São Paulo, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Riyadh, Abu Dhabi, Beirut, Tehran, Karachi, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur, Tokyo, Istanbul, Ankara, Rome, Belgrade, Zurich, Nairobi, Mombasa, Pretoria, Kampala, Dar es Salaam and Gaborone. In 2016, RMJM announced the creation of two “PRO” studios with the capacity to provide sector specific services, namely Sport and Healthcare.


19London County Council (LCC) was the principal local government body for the County of London throughout its existence from 1889 to 1965, and the first London-wide general municipal authority to be directly elected. It covered the area today known as Inner London and was replaced by the Greater London Council. The LCC was the largest, most significant and most ambitious English municipal authority of its day.


20Sir Alexander John (Alex) Gordon, CBE (1917–1999) was a Welsh architect. Born in Ayr, Scotland, he was brought up and educated in Swansea and Cardiff. After World War II he designed several major buildings in Cardiff and Swansea, and from 1971 to 1973 he served as president of the Royal Institute of British Architects. In 1974 he summarised the needs of new architecture as ‘Long life, loose fit, low energy’. (…) In 1949 Gordon entered into partnership with Thomas Alwyn Lloyd (1881–1960), forming T. Alwyn Lloyd and Gordon. Initially the practice worked on public housing and housing for the Forestry Commission. In 1949 he was appointed consultant architect to the Wales Gas Board, for which he designed a new headquarters, Snelling House, Cardiff (1966). This eight-story office block was the first of many large buildings that he designed. After Alwyn Lloyd’s death in 1960, Gordon established Alex Gordon and Partners with Alun Roberts and David Humphreys. The business expanded, and had ten partners by 1972.”

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21Thomas Daniel Smith (11 May 1915 – 27 July 1993) was a British politician who was Leader of Newcastle City Council from 1960 to 1965. He was a prominent figure in the Labour Party in North East England, such that he was nicknamed Mr Newcastle (although his opponents called him the Mouth of the Tyne). Smith sought to clear Newcastle of slum housing and put a great deal of effort into regeneration plans, such that the city was nicknamed The Brasilia of the North, at his suggestion. He also pumped money into local arts institutions. However, many residents of Newcastle felt that his regeneration plans created a West End now dismissed as being an impoverished area.[citation needed] Smith’s name is usually spoken in negative terms regarding the destruction of historic and aesthetically pleasing buildings which were replaced with concrete structures, although many of these developments – such as Eldon Square Shopping Centre and John Dobson’s Royal Arcade – actually took place after he left office. While leading the redevelopment of his city, Smith formed business links with architect John Poulson which led to his trial for accepting bribes in April 1974, at which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment. He starred in a film of his life released in 1987.Smith’s PR firm was involved with Wandsworth Borough Council in pushing a redevelopment scheme, where its contact was Alderman Sidney Sporle. Sporle fell under police suspicion of corruption in the late 1960s and an inquiry led to Smith being charged with bribery in January 1970. Although acquitted at trial in July 1971, Smith was forced to resign all his political offices. Poulson’s company was declared bankrupt in 1972. The subsequent hearings disclosed extensive bribery and in October 1973 Smith was again arrested on corruption charges. At his trial, it was claimed that he had received £156,000 over seven years, usually in the form of payment to his public relations company. He pleaded guilty in 1974 and was sentenced to six years’ imprisonment; despite his plea he continued to assert his innocence.

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22Councillor Alan Strickland publicly announced his withdrawal from the selection process for Noel Park ward by posting a two page letter on social media yesterday. In it cllr Strickland blamed the domination of “narrow factionalism” in the Noel Park selection process for the decision before attacking “factional activists” alleging voters “simply” followed their instructions ahead of a trigger ballot, sparked by his failure to get a majority on a first round vote which would have seen him automatically reselected. (…) But he made no mention of Haringey’s plan to regenerate the borough by pairing up with private developer Lendlease – attacked by critics as a public assets sell off – which as housing chief he championed and regularly came under fire over.

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John McAslan + Partners, with Haringey Council, has transformed an empty Tottenham shop into a design hub offering work placements and training to local people. The studio – a groundbreaking partnership with the Council – opened in December 2014. The N17 Design Studio is collaborating with the College of Haringey, Enfield and North East London in a 12-month pilot project to give local students the chance to learn key skills with globally recognised architects. Haringey Council has taken a five-year lease on the building and it has been refurbished to create a community facility on the High Road, showcasing regeneration plans and engaging with local people on the future of Tottenham. Project leaders include: John McAslan, Executive Chairman of the practice, Haringey Council Leader Claire Kober, Haringey Council CEP Nick Walkley, and Interim College Principal and Chief Executive, Louise Twigg. JMP project leaders are Aidan Potter and Natasha Manzaroli. (…) Haringey Council has already secured more than £1billion of investment to support the long-term regeneration of Tottenham, with major construction work already underway to bring 10,000 new homes and 5,000 new jobs by 2025.”

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Below is the published letter from New Architectural Movement’s co-founder John Murray in response to The Guardian over the false claim John McAslan’s office is the first architect’s studio to open in Tottenham.

Sunday 4 January 2014

John McAslan’s initiatives to open a studio and train local young people as architects from Tottenham (Haringey) and also to rectify the absence of black and minority architects in the makeup of the architectural profession, are to be very much welcomed (After Haiti, Tottenham: architect opens studio in riot scarred borough Guardian 4 Jan 2014). However, it is equally a timely reminder of the hidden history of the role of local authority architects services, which disappeared in the 1990s in the steady march of privatisation.

The Haringey Building Design Service was especially pioneering. At its peak it employed around 200 staff, 60% of whom were black and ethnic minority, reflecting the Borough’s very diverse population. It had 8 multi disciplinary teams serving different areas of the Borough. As part of a policy to encourage local young people to become involved in architecture, each of the eight teams appointed two local young people as trainee architects. ie 16 in total. The majority were young black and ethnic minority men and women who were sponsored through college. What currently seems pioneering was then a core part of a public service shaped by the two strands of social change which fortuitously came together in Haringey in the 1980s. Firstly, a radical local Labour Council committed to equal opportunities and secondly, the impact of the New Architectural Movement (NAM).

NAM was a social movement committed to extending accountability and user involvement in design services and Haringey local authority architects (including myself) were among some of the most actively involved. As neo-liberalism has advanced over thirty years and the social state is dismantled, it is important that we do not forget this radical legacy and the sense of agency to bring about social change from this era. And as the housing crisis deepens, what was once deemed possible as a part of the social state may well need to be reinvented.” John Murray

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25A special Full Council meeting reflected on the life of Cllr Meehan who died in July, aged 72, following more than 40 years of public service in Haringey. Cllr Meehan was first elected as a Labour Party ward councillor in 1971 and served three separate periods as Leader of the Council – from 1983 to 1985, 1999 to 2004 and 2006 to 2008. He held an unwavering passion for working to deliver quality public services and for involving local people in the decisions that affect their everyday lives.

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26Bert Dinnage, Borough Architects Service.

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27Alan Weitzel, Borough Architect

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28Bernie Grant, the Guyanese Labour MP for Tottenham since 1987, who has died of a heart attack aged 56, was a red rag to the bulls of rightwing politics. A black man with a leftwing trade union background, he was also an anti-apartheid campaigner, a supporter of revolutionary governments, feminist causes, black studies and a multi-racial school curriculum. (…) • Bernard Alexander Montgomery Grant, politician, born February 17, 1944; died April 8 2000.” Source :

29Nothumberland Park estate.

30By 1985, the Architects service had developed into eight multi-disciplinary, area-based design teams accountable to area committees. This included a site based multi-disciplinary design team established on the Broadwater Farm Estate following riots in 1985. Also in 1985, John Murray became the elected head of the new service, Haringey Building Design Service (BDS).

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31SUPPORT was a group based at the Architectural Association, at the end of the 1970s. SUPPORT was lead by Tom Wooley and Hugo Hinsley. Tom Woolley : “Professionals, not just architects but doctors and others too, think they know what people need, and this becomes institutionalized. People hand over responsibility to the professionals, and we want to get people to take it back into their own hands. We are not saying there is no expertise involved in building, but we see ourselves as “enablers” to help people to think about their environment and make the decisions about it themselves.

Source : Anne Karpf, ‘Professional Revolutionaries: The Challenge to the Architectural Profession from Two Radical Groups of Architects–the New Architecture Movement and the Architects’ Revolutionary Council’, Architectural Design, (9) (1976), 558.

Tom Wooley worked in the West of Scotland and then at the Architectural Association in London and became known for his campaigning work on community architecture and design participation. He established the community architecture practice “Support” in London and was also a founder of the community technical aid movement and the Association for Community Technical Aid Centres (ACTAC). He was a contributor to the radical architecture magazine “ARSE”. He was also active in the New Architecture Movement and contributed to the magazine “Slate.” His first published article was in Anarchy edited by Colin Ward.

He is one of the founder members of the “Renewable Building” (The Association for Sustainable Building products), Natureplus UK, Living Building Initiative Ireland and EASCA. He and Rachel Bevan has recently built a demonstration low energy hempcrete house in County Down. Current funded research includes a £1 million Technology Strategy Board project in innovative insulation materials with Bangor University and a scoping study on sustainable housing funded by Invest Northern Ireland.

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32Covent Garden Campaign:

Brian Anson, I’ll Fight You for It!: Behind the Struggle for Covent Garden. (London: Jonathan Cape, 1981)

The fight to save Covent Garden in :

33Broadwater Farm estate

In 1967, construction of the Broadwater Farm Estate began on the site of the allotments, and an area of the south eastern part of the park was used to replace the allotments destroyed by the building of the estate. As initially built, the estate contained 1,063 flats, providing homes for 3,000–4,000 people. The design of the estate was inspired by Le Corbusier, and characterised by large concrete blocks and tall towers. Because of the high water table and the flood risk caused by the Moselle, which flows through the site, no housing was built at ground level. Instead, the ground level was entirely occupied by car parks, and the buildings were linked by a system of interconnected walkways at first floor level known as the “deck level”. Shops and amenities were also located on the deck level. The 12 interconnected buildings were each named after a different World War II RAF aerodrome. The most conspicuous buildings are the very tall Northolt and Kenley towers, and the large ziggurat shaped Tangmere block.


By 1973, problems with the estate were becoming apparent; the walkways of the deck level created dangerously isolated areas which became hotspots for crime and robbery, and provided easy escape routes for criminals. The housing was poorly maintained, and suffered badly from water leakages, pest infestations (including a serious outbreak of cockroaches) and electrical faults.[12] More than half of the people offered accommodation in the estate refused it, and the majority of existing residents had applied to be re-housed elsewhere. In 1976, less than ten years after the estate opened, the Department of the Environment concluded that the estate was of such poor quality that the only solution was demolition. This decision was unwelcome to residents, and relations between the community and the local authority became increasingly confrontational. A process of regeneration began in 1981, but it was hampered by a lack of funds and an increasingly negative public perception of the area.

The Tenants’ Association and the Youth Association

Although the demographics of Broadwater Farm at the time were roughly 50% black and 50% white, the Tenants’ Association was all white and regarded with increasing distrust by black residents and white residents not connected with the Association. In 1981, residents set up the rival “Youth Association”, which was widely applauded by many members of the local black community for challenging the perceived harassment by the controversial Special Patrol Group of local youths and of black residents of the estate. In 1983, the council gave the Tenants’ Association an empty shop to use as an office and a vague authority to “deal with local problems”, heightening antagonism between the Tenants’ Association and Youth Association, which in turn set up its own youth club, advice centre, estate watchdog and local lobbying group.

Early regeneration projects

Despite the lack of funds and unwillingness on the part of the council to commit to regeneration, by 1985 it appeared that progress was being made in solving the area’s problems. Pressure from the Tenants’ Association and the Youth Association forced the council to open a Neighbourhood Office. In 1983, a tenants’ empowerment agency, Priority Estates Project, was appointed to coordinate residents’ complaints and concerns, and residents were included on interview panels for council staff dealing with the area.

34The first team leader was Raj Rajkumar.

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35(…) George Nicola, an experienced architect who worked closely with Dolly Kiffin and the Youth Association to develop a successful team well integrated into the local community. The team ensured that contractors working on the estate employed local labour and encouraged BWF Youth Association Coop to carry out work on the estate. This culminated in the Enterprise Workshops, designed by the Broadwater Farm team, being built by the Youth Association Coop itself. This building went on to receive an award from the Prince of Wales.

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36The students union arrived in the dank hole, spearheaded by Howard Smith who created the only decent Student Union the AA’s ever had

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37Anna Minton is right to say that “Tower blocks can be safe. The key issue is management” (15 June). But her claim that the 1968 collapse of Ronan Point marked a turning point for British housing is wrong. The turning point came one year earlier when Labour’s Housing Subsidies Act 1967 brought an end to the building of high-rise flats by local authorities. This was a result of the Deeplish study initiated by the new Labour government to investigate the possibility of housing improvement rather than the slum clearance programme, which, although begun by the Conservative government in 1953 had been Conservative government policy since the end of the 19th century. The Deeplish report rejected this, recommending rehabilitation rather than demolition, stressing the economic and social advantages. The Ronan Point argument reinvents history rather than giving credit to Harold Wilson’s Labour government for the ending of the Tory tower blocks policy.” John Murray – Former Haringey borough architect

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38 the Deeplish Study, 1966 :