Christopher Powell Obituary

Christopher Powell, my father-in-law, passed away due to a brain tumor at the age of 70. He dedicated over thirty years to teaching architecture as a lecturer.

Christopher’s roots were in south Gloucestershire, where he was born and educated. He followed in his father’s footsteps and obtained a degree in architecture from Bristol University in 1964. However, he chose to forge his own path instead of joining the family business. His career began at the Ministry of Public Buildings and Works, where he was involved in various housing development projects in the south-east. He later moved on to work with different agencies and practices, such as Wilson and Womersley. His interest in the historical and social aspects of architecture grew during this period. His passion led him to complete a master’s thesis on local authority housing in 1972. Subsequently, Chris transitioned into academia, becoming a lecturer at the Welsh School of Architecture in Cardiff. There, he explored topics that intersected with the economics of building and design. His involvement in creating the Construction History Society and co-editing its journal demonstrated his commitment to his field. His research culminated in his book, An Economic History of the British Building Industry, 1815-1979. He also wrote a history of the Welsh School of Architecture, which was published in 2009.

Apart from academia, Chris had many interests, including reading biographies of artists, authors, and politicians. He enjoyed sending amusing postcards and cartoons to his loved ones. He was an avid cyclist and embarked on several long-distance trips, including a remarkable Land’s End to John O’Groats, shortly after undergoing heart surgery. Christopher’s ability to paint and draw expressed his deep understanding of building styles and forms. This expertise shone through when he traveled around the countryside to places like isolated churches, unique cottages, and old inns. His dedication went as far as creating "Powell’s law," which suggested that dates claimed by pubs should have 100 years deducted from them.

Chris was a thought leader who relished the chance to debate a new discovery or research from diverse fields, such as archaeology and politics. He will be deeply missed by his wife, Pam, whom he married in 1963, as well as his two children, Jo and Alex.


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