Category Archives: About

Vacancy for Trustee: Events

We are looking for a Trustee to join our board and lead the development and delivery of our programme of talks, guided heritage walks, social events and general meetings.

Experience in event curation and production is essential. Team building and leadership experience are desirable as we seek to build our events team and capabilities. First-time trustees are welcome.

We are seeking a team player with vision, creativity and drive to play a part in developing The Richmond Society and improving the experience we provide to members.

The Trustee for Events is a full member of the board / executive committee. Membership of The Richmond Society is a prerequisite for all our Trustees (Individual membership is open to all and costs £10 per year). In accordance with Charity Commission standard practice, the trustee role is not remunerated.

The board / executive committee currently meets once per month (in the evening). Our talks, guided heritage walks, social events and general meetings take place in the evenings or occasionally at weekends. This is a hands-on role in a small charity and we expect the time commitment to be around one day a week.

If you are interested, please contact Simon Clarkson at marketing@richmondsociety.org.uk.

Janet Locke: funeral service on 9th June

Janet’s funeral was held on Tuesday 9th June at 3:30pm. Janet’s son, Chris Locke, presented the eulogy. The Order of Service is available at this link.

Eulogy

My mother was born in Leicester on May 16 1928, the only child of Monty and Nellie Furney. Janet’s father was a tailor, her mother a milliner and seamstress. By 1928 Monty had become a regional inspector for menswear chain Burton’s, which meant a series of moves around the country as his postings changed. This peripatetic existence, with her father often away, I think contributed greatly to my mother’s self-reliance and independence throughout her life.

Much of her early childhood was spent in Cambridge, but by the war the family had moved to Buckhurst Hill on the Essex fringes of London. Here her interest in architecture was sparked when a local builder won the pools and bought a plot of land to develop in the fields at the end of their road.

She was fascinated by the plans and resolved to become an architect, a rare career then for a woman, but she was determined. Monty went to see the headmistress, Miss Essame, of her boarding school, Queenswood near Hatfield, and was directed for advice to the head’s brother, who worked for the Royal Institute of British Architects.

She enrolled in the Bartlett School of Architecture at the end of the war, one of only five or six women in her academic year, developing that passion for beauty and against ugliness that animates William Blake’s Jerusalem, which we will sing later. In 1950 she was chosen by the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings as one of four Lethaby Scholars to study conservation work. At the SPAB building in Great Ormond Street she met Peter Locke, a fellow Scholar who had studied at Brixton School of Building. They were introduced by the SPAB’s secretary, Monica Dance, who when they fell in love and got engaged had to ride a storm of protest that she had turned the Scholarship into a matrimonial agency by admitting females.

They married in 1952, despite her parents’ disapproval who refused to attend. Typically my mother stuck to her guns and her parents were later won round. It was a long and happy marriage, lasting more than 60 years before Peter’s death in 2012. Both practised as architects, but Janet halted in 1957 for my birth in that year and that of Susan in 1959 (Sue died in 1993, leaving two grandchildren, Tom – who died in 2015 – and Katie, who were a great joy to Janet and Peter).

Janet’s early married life with Peter was in a garret in St John’s Wood, in a top-floor room shared with a hamster called Humphrey who tended to live in the sofa and next to a boiler they nicknamed Krakatoa. Poor as they were, they still would manage the occasional treat of a night at the theatre, including one night when they had battled through a pea-souper to their seats in the gods to find the inside of the theatre full of fog. Luckily a distant voice summoned them down to the front stalls to join the other dozen people who had made it as that night’s audience. Revues were a particular favourite, which is why we will hear both Flanders and Swann and Joyce Grenfell later.

In the mid-Fifties they moved to Blackheath, to a rented flat where I and Sue appeared. This was the period when Peter had just begun working with Donald Insall as the two of them started their architectural practice specialising in the renovation they had first learned on the Lethaby Scholarship. For his work my father bought a succession of cheap ancient cars – I remember a Rover with a running board and a pre-war Austin Seven – underneath which he would spend most of the weekend doing repairs. No wonder Genevieve, the Fifties movie about the London to Brighton veteran car rally, was a film dear to them. We shall hear the theme from that later too.

Through all this, as we moved in 1962, buying a garden flat on the other side of Blackheath, my mother ran the household with endless cheer and resourcefulness. She was always ready, no matter how busy, to answer my childish questions. The only occasion she failed was when I held up a bottle of squash and asked whether “dilute to taste” meant delightful. Distracted by washing up she replied “Yes darling”. She was mortified when I recalled this years later.
Much more characteristic was when in 1967 I returned from primary school with the news that three of my class would be spectators as the Queen knighted Francis Chichester at the Royal Naval College. They would be chosen on a test of knowledge about his round-the-world voyage. I of course was hellbent on winning but knew nothing of Gipsy Moth IV and its solo skipper.
My mother must then have spent the whole of the next day in a public library because that night, the eve of the quiz, she coached me so thoroughly that I sailed through and was duly to be seen on TV sitting cross-legged in the front row of all the Greenwich tinies watching the investiture.
My mother returned to practice once we children were old enough, working for a local architect and then advising on planning applications for Lewisham council.

In 1978 they moved to Lewisham, buying and renovating a large mid-Victorian house there. It spoke to Peter’s regard for her as the better architect that he decided she should be in charge of the plans while he acted as general contractor.

In 1985 they moved to Richmond, first to a two-floor flat in Church Road and then in 1994 to a cottage in Albany Passage. They threw themselves into Richmond life, making many new friends and becoming stalwarts of the Richmond Society, of which my mother was vice-chair and served on the committees vetting planning applications and judging the annual building awards. They also fulfilled a lifelong love of travel as Peter eased into retirement.

After Peter’s death in 2012 Janet was determined to live an independent life, travelling solo abroad and continuing to absorb herself in matters cultural, historical and architectural. In 2017 however she decided, with typical practicality, that it was time to go into a care home, and the following year she moved into Lynde House in Twickenham, where she passed her remaining time amid great comfort and kindness.

I have received so many wonderful tributes, both from those in this room and those prevented from attending today. They recall Janet’s “architecturally perfect cakes, precise hairdos and her tinkling chandelier laugh”, “her unfailing kindness, generosity of spirit and interest in others”, her enthusiasm, hospitality and positivity and much, much more. Above all they concur, as the nurse who broke the news to me said, that she was “such a lovely woman”.

Go well, mother, and go with all our love.

A further short appreciation by Paul Velluet of Janet’s life and her work for The Richmond Society can be found here.

Janet Locke 1928-2020

Photograph of Janet Locke at Trumpeters' HouseIt was with great sadness that the Society learnt of the death last weekend of Janet Locke, who made a major contribution to the Society’s key role and work in protecting and enhancing the character and amenity of Richmond between 1986 and 2008.
Janet served on the Executive Committee from 1986 until the end of 2002 – including several years as the Society’s Vice-Chairman – and on the Conservation, Development and Planning Sub-Committee from 1986 to 2008.

Across those years, Janet led the Society’s important work in monitoring and commenting on development proposals located within the Society’s area of interest, involving careful scrutiny and consideration of many hundreds of planning applications affecting Richmond each year and drafting and submitting representations in collaboration with her committee colleagues on those specific proposals raising issues of concern to the Society. In addition and importantly, Janet also contributed significantly to the Society’s own conservation and improvement projects and in the assessment stages of its Annual Awards Scheme.

The Society owes an enormous debt of gratitude to Janet for her dedication, enthusiasm and wise advice across the years.

P.V. 26th May, 2020.

For details of Janet’s funeral service, please see here.

Rachel Dickson MBE 1920-2019

Rachel Dickson 1920-2019Rachel Dickson, MBE, who died peacefully on 6 August just six months before her centenary, was a Patron of the Richmond Society for nearly three decades.

Trained as an architect, she was an early member of the Society when it was set up in 1957 and became a Patron in 1990.

She served as a Liberal Councillor for Kew from 1971 to 1974, and for Richmond Hill from 1978 to 1986 when she was Deputy Mayor of the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames.

Dickson House was opened as a space for studio workshops in 1989 on Queen’s Road Estate, where 400 subsidised homes were built, and named for her work with Richmond Parish Lands Charity, whose Chairman she became in 1985.

Rachel Dickson was active in many local charities, in recognition of which she was awarded an MBE for her dedication to helping and engaging with Richmond residents. Those with which she was associated included almshouses in Richmond, distributing poppy collecting boxes, the Council for Voluntary Services, mental health support organisation RABMIND, Richmond Forum Lunches, Single People’s Emergency Accommodation in Richmond (SPEAR), and the Vineyard Project. She was also interested in penal policy and subsidised housing.

Richmond’s former Team Ministry Rector Julian Reindorp dubbed her ‘Mrs Richmond’.

She leaves two sons, grandchildren and great grandchildren to whom we offer our deepest sympathy. Her eldest son predeceased her in 2013.

Janice Kay

Janice KayIt is with much sadness that we announce the passing of Janice Kay, a stalwart of the Richmond Society’s Executive Committee for many years.

Janice was a Trustee of the Society for 28 years and as Programme Secretary was in charge of arranging our talks. She did this assiduously with a thoroughness and close attention to detail that left nothing to chance.

These attributes and expertise had been learned in her professional life as a television director.

Her daughter Serena said in a notice announcing the death of her mother: “She was a pioneer and trailblazer being the first and youngest, female television director ever in the UK. Her career took her all around the world and she worked with all the top names in the entertainment industry. She moved to Richmond in 1961, where she has lived ever since. Janice became involved with the Richmond Society about 28 years ago when she took over the Press and Publicity side. Janice worked tirelessly for RS, organising all of the Speakers throughout this time. Janice used to set out all the chairs on her own, sell the refreshments, cope with the IT issues and ensure that every speaker was treated professionally and looked after. Janice was passionate about Richmond and its community and ambience and gave so much of her time and energy to the Richmond Society.”

Janice died peacefully at her Richmond home on Tuesday 6 November after an illness which in recent months had prevented her from continuing the active role she so enjoyed playing in the Society’s affairs. We miss her greatly.

New Chairman – Barry May

Photo of Barry May, the Richmond Society's new ChairmanThe Richmond Society has a new Chairman.

He is Barry May (photo), formerly a reporter on the Richmond & Twickenham Times who became a foreign correspondent and editor for Reuters. He has been a member of the Society since 2002.

“I was born, raised and went to school in Richmond upon Thames,” Barry said. “So my roots here are deep, and although I’ve been fortunate to travel widely around the world my heart was always in Richmond. Nowhere else compares. I’m looking forward to playing a part in making it even better.”

Barry is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a Freeman of the City of London, and a member of several social, cultural and geopolitical organisations. He is married with two sons, and lives in Richmond.

His predecessor, Professor Ian Bruce, stepped down in December to fulfil family commitments. After five years as Chairman, he is now a Patron of the Society.