SIR: I was saddened to read of the death of the architect Huw Thomas, because of my respect for somebody who had an imaginative approach to ‘listed’ barn conversions and really cared about the character of Winchester’s townscape.

As Winchester’s first conservation officer I welcomed new architects coming to work in the city who bring a fresh eye to bear on the possibilities inherent in their commissions.

The city planning department did have a ‘vision’ for the Upper Peninsula Barracks (the only buildings officially listed). We thought that a large public square with the eastern building adapted to the larger museums that the city wanted, students from King Alfred’s College in the western building and a hotel on the southern side where unsuitable modern buildings had been demolished, would be an exciting prospect if cooperation between the city and county councils could be achieved.

But outside developers wanted a really dense scheme on the demolished lower barracks which showed no respect for the tree-clad castle mound before SAVE commissioned Huw to develop gentler proposals that avoided expensive archaeology.

I suggest that a fitting memorial to Huw could be to introduce the idea of families sailing model boats on the large central pond. This was shown by Huw in his watercolour presentation drawing of his scheme.

While living in Edinburgh I regularly took my two young sons with their boats to this facility in Inverleith Park which was very popular. When the barracks was completed I took them up there and discovered that there was plenty of wind, and the raised level of the shallow pond seemed potentially very safe.

This would require the approval of the residents association who I hope could appreciate the benefits of an inherently quiet activity that would add interest to the view out of their flats. I believe that one of the model boat clubs in Hampshire could be interested in helping to get this started perhaps on ‘special’ days.

We don’t seem to be very imaginative in providing interesting activities for young children. I really believe that Huw would have been delighted to see this activity as a finishing touch to this large project.

Andrew Rutter,

St Johns Road,


SIR: I have read, with great sadness, the death of Huw Thomas, that was reported in the Hampshire Chronicle (October 8).

I have to say I had, and have, deep respect for this man’s achievements. He was always looking to make sure that his architectural designs fitted into Winchester’s historic buildings. There were people who were, and are, ultra modernists in design, who disliked his work but admired the man. When he built the beautiful development in the old barracks of the Royal Green Jackets, he built it with a view that it would last, as indeed, some of the oldest, historical buildings in Winchester, have lasted. Sturdy, majestic, made with the best materials. He didn’t look for glory, he didn’t look for the end dollar. Of course if that came along all well and good, but his first commitment was to Winchester’s historic environment. He was in fact a traditionalist but with modern form in mind, especially in the interior of his developments.

And so, once again, taken from us when he had more to offer, I for one will always remember him, foremost for his honesty in his approach. And his sincerity and commitment to Winchester itself.

Of course this is a personal opinion but to my mind a valid one.

Eileen Berry,

Priors Dean Road,