Gavin Stamp obituary

By Ian Jack

Architectural historian who campaigned to save notable buildings from destruction

Gavin Stamp, who has died aged 69 after suffering from cancer, was an architectural historian and campaigner whose scholarship and enthusiasm promoted the understanding and reputation of several great but neglected architects, and helped save many fine 19th and 20th century buildings (he would say not nearly enough) from the wrecker's ball. As a writer and conservationist he followed a tradition set by John Betjeman and Ian Nairn, both of whom he admired, and for nearly 40 years his pseudonymous column in Private Eye waged war on the property developers and planning authorities who disfigured British towns with their greed and ineptitude. Stamp concluded that their disregard for history, especially in the shape of Victorian buildings, was a form of national self-hatred.

His passion for buildings first appeared when, as a boarder at Dulwich college, he filled his weekends by exploring the streets of south London and southern suburbs such as Bromley, where he was born. Like most pupils in the days of the so-called Dulwich Experiment, he had a free place at the school (funded by a local authority grant) – a fact that he was keen to stress later in life whenever he was mistaken for a typical product of a paid education.

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