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Dublin-born architect, Desmond Hogdes (1928-2012) Leaves a Conservation Legacy in Edinburgh New Town

Published: Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Desmond Hodges (Photo: The Scotsman)

The Dublin-born architect, Desmond Hodges was the former Director of the Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee (ENTCC) and responsible for its successful conservation practice.  As The Scotsman reports in an obituary by Alison Shaw: “One of the biggest successes of the ENTCC was the maintenance manual Care and Conservation of Georgian Houses, which Hodges was instrumental in developing. It quickly became a model for others and today is still regarded as the authority on the detail of Georgian houses.  (…) The work carried out in the New Town has been formally recognised by the European Community as a valuable part of Europe’s heritage, being awarded the Europa Nostra silver medal in 1988 for an ‘outstanding example of co-ordinated rehabilitation and maintenance management in an area of high architectural values’. As a direct result of the success of the ENTCC under Hodges’ innovative leadership, the Old and New Towns were awarded World Heritage Site status in 1995. Four years later, the ENTCC and the Old Town Renewal Trust merged to form Edinburgh World Heritage.”

Born in Dublin in 1928, Hodges was the son and grandson of clergymen and a descendant of one of the city’s 19th-century Lord Mayors, metalworker William Hodges. The Scotsman writes: “He grew up walking daily through the Georgian streets and, when his father was appointed Bishop of Limerick, he was educated as a boarder at St Columba’s, Rathfarnham. He went on, briefly, to study history at Trinity College, Dublin, but left university to take up an apprenticeship at an architectural practice owned by one of his father’s friends. The firm dealt with, among other things, the restoration of 18th-century public buildings. He qualified as a member of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland, moved north to join a firm in Belfast and later set up an office with a fellow architect. Hodges, whose significant works included the churches of the Annunciation and St Dorothea’s, Belfast, also set up home above the office with his wife Margaret after their marriage in 1965. (…) At the height of the Troubles, when work was scarce, he applied, though not really expecting to be successful, for the newly created post of director of the Edinburgh New Town Conservation Committee (ENTCC). The outsider’s charm, vision and enthusiasm won the day and a new era in Edinburgh’s architectural history was about to unfold. “ (.…)

“An Irishman with a twinkle and a certain unorthodoxy of approach, he also had a modesty that would no doubt have precluded him from agreeing that, along with a handful of others, he was one of the saviours of the New Town. That it looks as it does today – a splendid, thriving and desirable place – is his legacy.” Desmond Hodges died aged 84 in Haddington UK and is survived his wife Margaret, daughters Penelope and Lucy and four grandchildren.


You can read the full obituary in The Scotsman


Categories: Architecture

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