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Pioneering town planner remembered at Blue Plaque ceremony

08 November 2019

The first English Heritage blue plaque in London for a town planner has been dedicated in a moving event to mark World Town Planning Day 2019.

The ceremony to remember Sir Patrick Abercrombie, one of the leading figures of the postwar planning system, was attended by Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) president Ian Tant and English Heritage Blue Plaque Panel member, historian and writer Rosemary Hill.

Sir Patrick Abercrombie Pre -installation Copyright English HeritageSir Patrick was originally an architect who went on to found the first planning school in the country in Liverpool. He later made an enormous contribution to planning practice – his achievements included the production of the Greater London Plan of 1944, leading the reshaping of London and its surrounding region for the following half century.

He moved to the property, which is located at 63 Egerton Gardens, SW3 in 1935. It is thought that he lived there for around 10 years.

Ian Tant said: “I am absolutely delighted to dedicate the English Heritage blue plaque to Sir Patrick Abercrombie on the 70th anniversary of World Town Planning Day. Sir Patrick Abercrombie was a founder of post war planning, not only in terms of his Greater London Plan but also his work and influence nationally and internationally.

“He was a powerful advocate for the profession and for the importance of planning to ensure that the built environment works for the benefit of communities. It is fantastic that he has been honoured in this way by English Heritage’s London blue plaques scheme.”

Rosemary Hill described Sir Patrick as the ‘pioneer of town planning’. She said: “This was the building where he was living when he took up his post of Professor of Town Planning at University College London in 1935. Egerton Gardens remained his home throughout the peak of his career and it was from here that he produced both his County of London plan of 1943 and then the Greater London plan.”

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Above: RTPI President Ian Tant and historian Rosemary Hill at 63 Egerton Gardens, SW3

During the ceremony, Ian read a statement from Fiona Abercrombie-Howroyd, Sir Patrick Abercrombie’s only surviving grandchild who is now based in Tasmania, Australia.

In the statement, Fiona, herself a planner, spoke of a recently-found recording of her grandfather from 1948, in which he talked about making cities ‘vital places’ that included green belts, cycle and walkways and transport hubs to facilitate our work and play.

She said: “This is what we, as planners, still aspire to do. I think if he were here today, he would suggest that we will continue to aspire, as there can be nothing more important than how we live, work and play in our communities and, ever increasingly, our environment.”

 

The ceremony was one of a number around the country supported by the RTPI to mark World Town Planning Day 2019. Details of all the events can be found here.

 

Blue plaque photo credit: English Heritage