Chairman gets gong


John Griffiths was presented with a brass gong and gong stick upon his retirement from the chairmanship of Rye Conservation Society.  Julian Luckett, vice-chairman, expressed the appreciation of members of the committee in paying this tribute:
“John has known Rye all his life. He spent school holidays in Rye staying with his grandparents in their house in Watchbell Street, where he now lives. His mother was born in the house and her wedding reception was in the now beautifully restored Old Monastery.
His grandfather had a building firm and after the Second World War he undertook war damage repair work. John’s interest in building conservation began then.
He qualified as an architect and worked in northern Nigeria for the international architect Maxwell Fry before returning to the UK to become Staff Architect for Granada Television. He was Founder Director of the Manchester Building Centre and the Manchester Design Centre, the latter affiliated to the Building Centre and the Design Centre in the Haymarket, London. For this he was named ‘Man of the Year’ by the Architect’s Journal.
John joined the Civil Service as Head of Technical Information for the Ministry of Public Building and Works (now Department for the Environment), responsible for government building exhibitions, films and HMSO leaflets on good building practice. Seeing a need for more public involvement, he set up the Building Conservation Trust which established a permanent exhibition in Hampton Court Palace where the public could access practical building conservation advice.
Amenity and civic matters have always been an active concern, wherever he went. He became a trustee of the Surrey Historic Buildings Trust and was Clerk to two livery companies: the Tylers and Bricklayers Company and the Worshipful Company of Chartered Architects.
Upon moving to Rye following his retirement, he was invited in short order to join the committee of the Rye Conservation Society and became its chairman eight years ago.
Since then, he has led the Society in all its various undertakings, among which not least is the forging of links with other amenity societies. This has given members a practical first-hand insight into conservation issues experienced and fought in other historic towns in the South East.
He has also promoted sponsorship of public lectures as part of the Rye Arts Festival. His retirement aged 86 at this year’s AGM marks the end of a chapter.”

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