SIR FREDERICK GIBBERD, CBE, RA, FRIBA, MTPI, FILA, 1908 – 1984, was an English architect and landscape designer.

Frederick Gibberd was born in Coventry on Tuesday 7th January 1908, the eldest of the five children of a local tailor, also Frederick (sometimes John??). When born, the family was living in Spencer Street, Coventry, but soon moved to Earlsdon in the city. He was initially educated at a private local school and he went on to King Henry VIII School. He married Dorothy Phillips and they has one son and two daughters. After Dorothy died in 1970 he went on to marry Mrs Patricia Fox-Edwards in 1972.

In 1925 he was articled to a firm of architects, Crouch, Butler and Savage, in Birmingham and during that time he studied architecture under William Bidlake at the Birmingham School of Art, where his room-mate was to become the noted architect, F R S Yorke (1906-1962). Yorke was one of the first to write about the Modernist House in 1934.

It is said that Gibberd’s work was greatly influenced by Le Corbusier (1887-1965) and Mies van der Rohe (1886-1969) as well as Yorke. He went to London in 1930 and set up his own practice in the city in 1933. He soon became established as the ‘flats’ architect because he built several large apartment schemes, and is especially noted for Pullman Court, Streatham Hill, London built in 1935.

Pullman Court


BISF House

During World War II Gibberd taught at the Architectural Association School in London, and was Principal there for two or three years from 1942. He was not fit for war service because he had only one kidney. At the end of the War he became influential in the design of prefabricated houses, particularly noted for the design he developed for the British Iron and Steel Federation (BISF), which was used extensively in the rebuilding of Coventry after the war.

He was the consultant architect planner for the Harlow New Town development from 1949. He prepared the Master Plan and designed many public buildings and spaces in this town. He was clearly very content with his work because he spent the rest of his life living at Marsh Lane on the outskirts of this town which he had designed.

The architect’s other major landmark achievements include the Roman Catholic Cathedral in Liverpool, the London Central Mosque in Regents Park and a monastery at Douai Abbey, Woolhampton, near Reading, during a career that continued into the 1970s. All three buildings are now listed Grade II* which emphatically confirms how Gibberd’s work has come to be recognised.

He received his knighthood in 1967. He died on 9th January 1984, two days after his 76th birthday.

Gibberd and Leamington

Gibberd was engaged as consultant architect by Leamington Borough Council in 1962.

He designed the Kennedy Square development off Lansdowne Street which required demolition and replacement of many workers’ houses in the Queen Street and King Street area

Progress of building phase one of the Sydenham estate, photo Richard King

He was appointed by the builders, AC Lloyd, to design Phase One of the Sydenham Estate from about 1962. He was very much influenced by the principles used in the Radburn development in New Jersey, USA, built in the 1920s. Phase One was to the east of Sydenham Drive between the canal and route of the old railway line to Rugby and Weedon which closed in 1964. The development is notable because vehicle access is at the rear of the homes, and pedestrian-only access is at the front



At the upper end of the Parade, he designed a multi-storey block in 1965 for the site remaining after the demolition of Christ Church. Many are pleased that it was not ultimately built.



He designed the housing at Greenwood Court between Upper Holly Walk and Holly Street in 1969.

Newbold Terrace, photo Joe Claydon

In 1969 he also designed the Magistrates Court and Crown Offices (both now demolished) in Newbold Terrace.


Royal Spa Centre, artist’s impression



His career culminated in Leamington with the design of the Royal Spa Centre in Newbold Terrace in 1972.





Thanks to Nigel Briggs for a wealth of information
Newspaper articles from the website of the British Newspaper Archive
An interesting insight is available in the recording of Sir Frederick in conversation with Roy Plomley on Desert Island Discs in 1983 –
BBC Radio 4 – Desert Island Discs, Sir Frederick Gibberd

Michael Jeffs, February 2022