Frank MarshallMay1928 – June 2012

The Memorial Service was held at St Luke’s Church, Eardley Road Sevenoaks on Friday July 6th .

With Frank Marshall’s retirement in 1995 closed the oldest garden design and landscape architecture practice in the country, the firm of Milner White and Partners whose founder, Edward Milner, had been apprentice to Joseph Paxton at Chatsworth. Frank had been a noted practitioner with many industrial and public clients as well as some private architectural commissions for domestic dwellings. He was especially proud of his landscaping work for Ferrybridge Power Station near the A1 in Yorkshire which extended out 10 to 15 miles from the plant and concealed its presence most successfully. Notable work also included the Vauxhall proving grounds at Lidlington in Bedfordshire and for Rugby Portland Cement’s plants in Kent.

At the time of his retirement Frank had already been a very active member of the Sevenoaks Society, having been Chairman in 1978 – 1982. He then settled into his chosen role as Chairman of the Planning Committee and devoted a great part of his time to keeping abreast of all the proposed developments both in terms of building applications and national and local planning policy. He was often not impressed and would get quite agitated by poorly thought out changes to planning procedures or poor quality design and build which developers tried to get approved with their eyes on a quick return and no thought on the long term impact on the fabric of Sevenoaks.

He composed hundreds of reports and submissions on planning matters concerning Sevenoaks, always being scrupulous to disqualify himself from comment if there was a personal connection that he had with one of the parties. He did all this on his electric typewriter, refusing all offers by the Society to fund a laptop, and he appeared to have kept a copy of most of the reports in case he needed to reference them, together with the Milner White archives which he hoped one day to turn into a history of the company. This resulted in a domestic landscape which Charles Dickens would have rejoiced in.

His latest report of planning matters, just published in the Sevenoaks Society’s Newsletter which celebrates their own Diamond Jubilee, presses for the need to control the demolition of significant unlisted buildings, such as the Farmers and Railway and Bicycle and 166 High Street where in his words “demolition occurred soon after granting of consent, but long before construction was intended to commence.” He praised the Sevenoaks Residential Character Area Assessment as a very thorough piece of work, commented on the draft National Planning Policy Framework, noted extensions to Conservation areas, pointed out that Marks and Spencers had turned down the Bligh’s Two site where they now are planning a store in 1991 and made some acerbic comments about the latest development on the Vine. He was his engaged, professional and witty self right up to the end and we in the Sevenoaks Society owe him a huge debt of gratitude. We treasured his involvement and friendship.

David Gamble, Chairman of the Sevenoaks Society

 

Sir Michael Harrison
President of the Sevenoaks Society and Chairman of the Sevenoaks Conservation Council writes:

 Frank was a stalwart of the Sevenoaks Society and the Sevenoaks Conservation Council who made an enormous contribution to the town of Sevenoaks.

He was a member of the Sevenoaks Society for 42 years, and he was Chairman of the Society’s Planning Sub-Committee for the last 30 years. In the latter capacity, he scrutinised all planning applications when they were published and drafted representations where appropriate. As I mentioned at the Society’s Diamond Jubilee party at Knole House less than a month ago, that was an enormously valuable and burdensome task to perform over all those years which was quite outstanding.

He was a member of the SCC for 37 years, having joined by the time of its 5th meeting in 1997. During that time, he only missed 13 out of the 141 meetings that the Conservation Council had held – a quite remarkable achievement.

Quite apart from his attendance record, he has been a pillar of support to the Conservation Council, particularly in planning and architectural matters. As Chairman of the Conservation Council, I sought his advice on countless occasions which he was always more than willing to provide. He was a great help and support to me and to many other people. He was much loved and will be sorely missed by us all.

Rob Harcourt, Chairman of the Sevenoaks Society 2003 – 2009 writes:

His unfailing good humour , constructive criticism of poor architecture and indefatigable devotion to Sevenoaks planning issues will be sorely missed. He was always helpful to anyone seeking his advice on planning matters.. Despite some health issues in recent years , he could regularly be seen in his green anorak in Town and walking down to the District Council offices to pick up his planning papers . His files will show his record on hundreds of planning applications. The fact there were few “horror ” buildings built in Sevenoaks in the last 30 years ensuring that we still have a pleasant town , will be his lasting memorial