In memory of David Whitham


Some Urban Design students, now in senior positions, may remember David Whitham, who was a member of the Joint Centre for Urban Design when staff from Planning, and in David’s case Architecture, made it joint. David was a housing and public service man whose lineage traced back to Seaham and the Durham of the late 1930’s. Period and place left their mark, and throughout his life David was an admirer of public investment and design (his latter e-mail was via Docomomo Scottish Branch) and he left the JCUD to join the Housing Department at the LB of Haringey.

Although many colleagues and students had a rough ride with David’s precision, distress at waste and failure to perform, David saw knowledge, the Polytechnic and the freedom to explore as am amazing gift from society. He had amassed a considerable library on the modern movement, design and topography and, as an explorer of both England and Scotland, knew the link between reading and seeing. His work record included post-war Scottish mining architecture, a spell in Ghana, and long period in housing design and management.

My family, especially my children, were privileged to join David, and then David and Enid (his wife since 1953) in adventures. These were largely of the historic motorcycle variety, with David riding one of his several machines which happened to be together for a race meeting at East Fortune, or for the Hesket New Market rally adjacent to the Lakes.

Enid (who died in 2010) kept David on the move, he had many friends in Scottish architecture and conservation, from what Steve Ward has noted as MI5 worthy Shankland Cox connections, from his motor cycle stable, and from living a determined yet full life. David died in May 2015 at the age of 87.

Brian Goodey
October 2016