Tireless local authority architect behind such great London schemes as the Thames Barrier and the restoration of Covent Garden Market
Architect and town planner Peter Eldon Jones died on 26 September. He had been active all his life, and never retired.
Peter was born on 11 October 1927. His mother was born a Buchanan and instilled in him a love of Scotland. His father, Wilfrid Eldon Jones, had spent the Great War in India on the north-west frontier and in Mesopotamia, and one year before his son’s birth took over a business importing goods from Persia. In 1937 he joined the Admiralty and became a civil servant until he retired. His father taught him both a sense of public duty and an adventurous and entrepreneurial drive.
Peter left grammar school and, declared unfit for active duty, enrolled at Kingston School of Art around the time of the D-Day Normandy landings to study architecture. Philip Powell taught at Kingston, and Peter worked at Powell & Moya during his holidays. After graduation in 1950 he joined the practice, working on the UK’s first new post-war hospital, in Swindon, and on schools and private houses until, in 1954, he joined the architects’ department at the then London County Council. The LCC was the place to be for ambitious young architects in the 1950s and beyond.
By 1960 he was deputy schools architect, and in 1965 town development architect and planner responsible for development and expansion, some examples being Thamesmead, Andover and Thetford.
By 1982, aged 55, he had been education architect to the Inner London Education Authority, was director of architecture and superintending architect of all metropolitan buildings at the Greater London Council and Inner London Education Authority, responsible for and to 2,000 professional and 500 operational staff, and was an external examiner at Kingston, Westminster and the South Bank schools of architecture. He also was made a Freeman of the City of London. The beautifully restored Covent Garden Market opened in 1980 to huge acclaim and has proved a stunning commercial and architectural success. The Thames Barrier, the world’s second largest moveable flood barrier, was opened by the Queen, with Peter in attendance, in May 1984. In 1986 the GLC, and with it the Department of Architecture, was abolished.
Peter busied himself as the national director of ASHTAV – the Association of Small Historic Towns and Villages of the UK. He was a consultant to the Department of Education, advising architects on their designs for schools.
He was vice president at the RIBA from 1985-86, and on the RIBA Council and chairman of the Membership Committee from 1985-88.
Peter had married Gisela Marie von Arnswaldt in 1954, when the first of many private jobs was on the drawing board – his own house. Single-storey, built in an orchard, and with a spacious and comfortable living area, the house both followed and was the research for guidelines laid down in his only publication as an author, a short book published in 1956 called Good House Design. In the same year the Homefinder House Plan Book was published containing 20 designs by different architects. Numbers 1 to 19 were traditional houses but number 20 was a flat-roofed, light and spacious modern house by Peter.
Peter was an avid reader and a connoisseur of films, and had a keen interest in history. He was an accomplished draughtsman and later painter. All his life he displayed a keen sense of humour. He was a quiet, kind, lovely and loveable man. He was very proud of his last project, for Halliford School in Shepperton: a theatre, a sports hall, and especially the arts and music centre – named The Peter Jones Centre and a lasting legacy to him.
He had three children from his first marriage, Christopher, Andrew and Hella, and two step-children, Angus and Elizabeth, through his second marriage to Claudia Milner-Brown, née Laurence, whom he married in 1985.
He is survived by his first wife Gisela, his wife Claudia, his children and step-children, and eight grandchildren.
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