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Architect made his mark with 60 years’ work
11:10pm Thursday 20th September 2012 in News
EMINENT Worcester architect Henry Gorst, who designed the Swan Theatre and several other significant buildings and restoration projects in the city and county, has died at the age of 96.
In his twilight years Mr Gorst was able to look back with pride over a considerable array of his designs from six decades of work.
His philosophy was “all architecture aspires to the condition of music and the foremost requirements of it are that structures should be strong enough to stand up, be right to live in and a pleasure to the senses.”
Mr Gorst was born in Preston in 1916 before going to Liverpool University and the Liverpool School of Architecture. He was elected to the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1941.
He moved to Worcester in 1942 and became a county technical officer involved in war emergency work and the design of control centres around Worcestershire. He worked from the county war emergency offices in Castle Street where he met Hazel Davies, a secretary, who was to become his wife of 60 years.
After the war, Mr Gorst joined the staff of the new County Architect’s Department, Castle Street, and over the next decade, as assistant county architect – education, he was in charge of the design of new schools in Worcestershire and extensions to existing schools.
In 1956 he set up his own practice in High Street, Worcester, and it rapidly grew with many commissions and eventually had a staff of 11 including, in the 1970s, David Birtwhistle who later became a leading provincial artist with his gallery in Friar Street.
In 1961 Mr Gorst won the commission to design Worcester’s Swan Theatre – actress Dame Peggy Ashcroft laying the foundation stone shortly afterwards.
He was very proud that the basic cost of the building was kept down to £53,180 which represented truly remarkable value for money. The sum was raised by public subscription. Other significant schemes were the restoration of the magnificent half-timbered Nash House, New Street, which won a coveted national Civic Trust Award.
His other work included the conversion and extension of historic St John’s House, Bromyard Road, into doctors’ surgeries – which won a Civic Trust commendation; major alterations to the former David Grieg’s grocery store, High Street, into a Barclays Bank; the Avon Valley Citizens Swimming Pool, Pershore; the conversion of Fort Royal House and the design of surrounding new bungalows for Royal Albert Homes, Worcester; the design of two schools in Warndon, Worcester, and the St Clement’s Primary School, Henwick Road , and the conversion of the Georgian property at 25 St John’s into a dental practice – both in Worcester.
There were also conversion works to country houses such as Froxmere Court, Crowle, near Worcester; Thorngrove, Grimley, near Worcester, and Wick Episcopi, Rushwick, near Worcester.
Mr Gorst was a past chairman of the Worcestershire Society of Architects, a member of Worcester Civic Society and a founder member of the Worcester Conservation Areas advisory committee.
His final home was a former 19th century coach house in Worcester’s Lansdowne Road which was converted to his designs. The couple were regular worshippers at Worcester Cathedral .
Hazel Gorst died only a few years ago and Mr Gorst is survived by his daughter Melanie.