Vic Nierop-Reading obituary | Architecture

My father, Vic Nierop-Reading, who has died aged 95, was a conservation architect who spent much of his life helping to restore the precious old buildings of Norwich.

Born in Finchley, north London, Vic was the only child of Frank Reading, a clockmaker, and May (nee Elsegood), who worked in a jewellery showroom. He went to Christ’s college in Finchley, north London, before training in architecture at North London Polytechnic (now London Metropolitan University). He started his career in 1953, working for the Geddes Hyslop firm of London architects, specialising in restoring English country houses.

Five years later he moved to Norwich to join the city council’s architects department as an architectural assistant, helping to design schools and housing in the vernacular style. Eventually becoming senior architect, he then worked on the restoration of many of the city’s most important historical buildings, including Churchman House, Dragon Hall and Strangers’ Hall.

As a result of his work, Vic developed an encyclopedic knowledge of the architectural heritage of Norwich, and was at the vanguard of promoting sensitivity to historic buildings.

He is remembered by colleagues as fun, enthusiastic and energetic. He never flinched from launching himself into the dirtiest roof space to wonder at some trapped detail, or to lie in rubble to inspect a particular “fascination” of a building, trying to understand how it fitted in with the whole.

After retiring from his job with the city council, Vic became a part-time lecturer on architectural history for the Workers’ Educational Association and the University of East Anglia. He was also a researcher for the Norfolk Historic Buildings Group.

With his first wife, Gill (nee Sayer), Vic was involved in campaigns in Norwich on green issues, including with the Norwich Society River Group, which successfully fought for a continuous riverside footpath through the city. With his second wife, Bryony (nee Nierop), he was instrumental in the restoration of the Plantation Garden, a restored Victorian town garden in Norwich.

Vic was a man who lived life to the full and was always itching to do more.

He is survived by his partner, Di Smith, five children from his marriage to Gill, which ended in divorce, three children from his marriage to Bryony, from whom he had separated, and 11 grandchildren.

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