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Edward Burd, architect who found time for his lifelong passion

Clock enthusiast worked on the design of social housing in east London, including refurbishing existing buildings and creating award-winning new-build social housing.

12 December, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Edward Burd. Photo: Sarah Ainslie

AN architect specialising in social housing who held a lifelong passion for clocks has died at 79.

Edward Burd grew up in Vincent Square, Pimlico, with his parents, Laurence and Cecilia Burd, who both worked at Westminster School as a science master and in charge of catering.

It was his father, who had completed exams at the British Institute of Horology as a hobby, who inspired Edward’s interest in the study and measurement of time.

After retiring from architectural practice 20 years ago, Edward found the time to pursue his lifelong passion – English dial wall clocks – and began the cycle of buying, restoring and selling timepieces as a full-time dealer.

His wife of 54 years, Mary Burd, said: “Edward was quite capable of restoring a wrecked English wall clock, which he took great pride and pleasure in saving for future generations to enjoy.”

He gradually built up a collection and became a dealer almost by accident due to a lack of wall space in his home. He said in an interview with Spitalfields Life last year: “If you have had a hard day and it is raining and it has all been bit much, and you come in and there is this ticking, and you have a cup of tea and put your feet up for a few minutes, then you are all right – it is looking after you, it has its own spirit.”

Edward went to school in Shrewsbury, where he excelled at sport and music, and returned to London in the late 1950s. He studied at the Architecture Association in Bedford Square and joined Hunt Thompson Associates as a partner in 1970, working from offices in Parkway, Camden Town

During his time there, Edward mainly worked on the design of social housing in east London, including refurbishing existing buildings and creating award-winning new-build social housing.

Mary said: “Of all his projects the one of which he was most proud was the redevelopment of the Mother’s Hospital in Lower Clapton as the new Mother’s Square for Newlon Housing Association. Opened by Prince Charles in 1990, it is an estate of social rented, supported and shared ownership homes, and was described by Lord Justice Scarman as ‘a little piece of Heaven on Earth’.’’

In 1965, Edward and Mary bought a rundown house in Albert Street, Camden. Together they transformed it into their family home where he spent the rest of his life.

Edward was an active opponent of the HS2 rail project because of the damage he feared it would inflict on the local neighbourhood, and gave evidence to the High Speed Rail Bill select committees in both the House of Commons and the Lords.

Edward is survived by his wife Mary, chairwoman of Camden Age UK, and his daughter Catherine, also a practising architect and co-chair of the Camden Design Review Panel.

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