Tributes to Sunderland architect devoted to preserving Durham Cathedral

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A WEARSIDE architect who devoted his life to preserving Durham Cathedral for the future has died at the age of 82.

Ian Curry spent more than 20 years as consultant architect at the cathedral – regarded as one of the finest Norman buildings in Europe – before stepping down due to ill health.

“As a boy he fell in love with Durham Cathedral, so his eventual job there must have been a boy’s dream come true,” said Douglas Smith, president of Sunderland Antiquarian Society.

Although born in Newcastle in 1930, Ian was brought up in Penshaw. His father was a butcher in Herrington, with a shop opposite the Board Inn, and his mother a primary teacher.

Educated at Durham School, he went on to study architecture at King’s College, Newcastle, before training under renowned North East architect Professor W.B. Edwards for five years.

“Ian qualified as an architect in 1950, and spent the first years of his career working on educational and university projects in an office run by Prof Edwards,” said Douglas.

“The professor had an interest in churches and historic buildings, so Ian found himself adapting what had been intended as the kitchen wing of Grade I-listed Seaton Delaval Hall.”

Ian went on to join Newcastle-based architectural company Hicks and Charlwood in his late 20s

The firm specialised in designing new churches, as well as restoring the old – both topics very close to Ian’s heart. He was to remain for 30 years, becoming a partner in 1959.

Just one year later, in 1960, he designed the new St Chad’s Church at Herrington – replacing a cramped wooden hut with a bright and airy place of worship.

“Ian became an expert in the care, repair and restoration of historic buildings,” said Douglas. “He was also a member of the first Quinquennial Inspection of Northern Churches.”

Finally, in 1976, he landed his dream job – as consultant architect for Durham Cathedral.

“Ian was involved in re-roofing nine altars, the undercroft and treasury, as well as re-hanging the bells,” said Douglas. “He also took charge of rebuilding the church pinnacles.

“He oversaw work to extend the cathedral buildings too, as well as ploughing through minutes from the Middle Ages and onwards, to extract every mention of the cathedral fabric.

l A funeral will be held at Durham Cathedral today at 2.30pm. Refreshments will be served after in Prior’s Hall, Durham Cathedral.