Patrick Abercrombie

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Sir Patrick Abercrombie

Sir (Leslie) Patrick Abercrombie - NPG x82059.jpg
Born(1879-06-06)6 June 1879
Died23 March 1957(1957-03-23) (aged 77)
OccupationCity planner
Emily Maud Gordon
(m. 1908; died 1942)

Sir Leslie Patrick Abercrombie FRIBA (/ˈæbərkrʌmbɪ/;[1] 6 June 1879 – 23 March 1957) was an English town planner. Educated at Uppingham School, Rutland; brother of Lascelles Abercrombie, poet and literary critic.


Abercombie trained as an architect before becoming the Professor of Civic Design at the University of Liverpool School of Architecture in 1915, and later Professor of Town Planning at University College London. Afterwards, he made award-winning designs for Dublin city centre and gradually asserted his dominance as an architect of international renown, which came about through the replanning of Plymouth,[2] Hull, Bath, Edinburgh and Bournemouth, among others. Of his post-war replanning of Plymouth, Sir Simon Jenkins writes:

Poor Plymouth. It was badly blitzed in the Second World War and then subjected to slash and burn by its city fathers. The modern visitor will find it a maze of concrete blocks, ill-sited towers and ruthless road schemes. Most of this damage was done by one man, Patrick Abercrombie, in the 1950s. The old Barbican district would, in France or Germany, have had its façades restored or rebuilt. Here new buildings were inserted with no feeling for the texture of the old lanes and alleys.[3]

In 1937, he served as President of the Geographical Association. His Presidential Address was entitled 'Geography - the Basis of Planning'. He is best known for the post-Second World War replanning of London. He created the County of London Plan (1943) and the Greater London Plan (1944) which are commonly referred to as the Abercrombie Plan. The latter document was an extended and more thorough product than the 1943 publication, and for Abercrombie it was an accumulation of nearly 50 years of experience and knowledge in the field of planning and architecture. He appears in the film The Proud City presenting his plan to the public.

In 1945 he published A Plan for the City & County of Kingston upon Hull, with the assistance of Sir Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens had died the year before publication whilst much of the plan was being finalised, and the plan was ultimately rejected by the Councillors of Hull.

From the Abercrombie Plan came the New Towns movement which included the building of Harlow and Crawley and the largest 'out-county' estate, Harold Hill in north-east London. He produced the Clyde Valley Regional Plan in 1946 with Robert Matthew that proposed the new towns of East Kilbride and Cumbernauld.[4] In 1949 he published with Richard Nickson a plan for the redevelopment of Warwick, which proposed demolition of almost all the town's Victorian housing stock and construction of a large inner ring road.[5]

During the postwar years, Abercombie was commissioned by the British government to redesign Hong Kong. In 1956 he was commissioned by Haile Selassie to draw up plans for the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.

Abercrombie was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 1945 New Year Honours.[6][7][8] In 1948 he became the first president of the newly formed group the International Union of Architects, or the UIA (Union Internationale des Architectes). The group now annually awards the Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize, for excellence in town planning. In 1950 he received the AIA Gold Medal. The University of Liverpool's Department of Civic Design also continues to award an Abercrombie Prize annually to its top-performing student.

The Abercrombie Building at Oxford Brookes University is home to the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment.[9]

He died in 1957. A blue plaque has been erected at a house formerly occupied by him (lived there 1915-1935), Village Road, Oxton, Merseyside[10]


Abercrombie married Emily Maud Gordon in 1908; they had one son and one daughter. He was widowed in 1942.[11] Abercrombie was the brother of the poet and critic, Lascelles Abercrombie and uncle to Michael Abercrombie.



  • Patrick Abercrombie, Sydney Kelly and Arthur Kelly, Dublin of the future : the new town plan, being the scheme awarded first prize in the international competition, University Press of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1922.
  • Sir Patrick Abercrombie, The Preservation of Rural England, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, London, 1926.[12] The book that lead to the foundation of the CPRE.
  • Patrick Abercrombie and John Archibald, East Kent Regional Planning Scheme Survey, Kent County Council, Maidstone, 1925.
  • The Earl of Mayo, S. D, Adshead and Patrick Abercrombie, The Thames Valley from Cricklade to Staines: A survey of its existing state and some suggestions for its future preservation, University of London Press, London, 1929
  • The Earl of Mayo, S.D. Adshead and Patrick Abercrombie, Regional Planning Report on Oxfordshire, Oxford University Press, 1931
  • Patrick Abercrombie and Sydney A. Kelly, East Suffolk Regional Scheme, University of Liverpool, Liverpool and Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1935 (prepared for the East Suffolk Joint Regional Planning Committee).
  • Patrick Abercrombie (ed), The Book of the Modern House: A Panoramic Survey of Contemporary Domestic Design, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1939
  • J. H. Forshaw and Patrick Abercrombie, County of London Plan, Macmillan & Co. 1943.
  • J. Paton Watson and Patrick Abercrombie, A Plan for Plymouth, Underhill, (Plymouth). Ltd., 1943.
  • Edwin Lutyens & Patrick Abercrombie, A Plan for the City & County of Kingston upon Hull, Brown (London & Hull), 1945.
  • Sir Patrick Abercrombie, John Owens & H Anthony Mealand, A Plan for Bath, Sir Isaac Pitman (London) 1945
  • Sir Patrick Abercrombie & R. H. Matthew, Clyde Valley Regional Plan, His Majesty’s Stationery Office, Edinburgh, 1946.
  • Patrick Abercrombie, Hong Kong Preliminary Planning Report, Government Printer, Hong Kong, 1948.
  • Patrick Abercrombie and Richard Nickson, Warwick: Its preservation and redevelopment, Architectural Press, 1949.
  • Sir Patrick Abercrombie, Revised by D. Rigby Childs, Town and Country Planning, Third Edition, Oxford University Press, 1959, Reprinted 1961 and 1967.


  1. ^ G.M. Miller, BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (Oxford UP, 1971), p. 1.
  2. ^ "RIBA Journal". Archived from the original on 13 August 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2008. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ Jenkins, p. 203
  4. ^ Patrick Abercrombie and Robert H. Matthew, The Clyde Valley Regional Plan 1946, a report prepared for the Clyde Valley Regional Planning Committee, Edinburgh, H M S 0, 1949
  5. ^ Patrick Abercrombie and Richard Nickson, WARWICK: Its preservation and redevelopment, Architectural Press, 1949.
  6. ^ Chambers Biographical Dictionary, ISBN 0-550-18022-2, page 4
  7. ^ "No. 36866". The London Gazette (Supplement). 29 December 1944. p. 1.
  8. ^ "No. 36943". The London Gazette. 16 February 1945. p. 943.
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 June 2013. Retrieved 27 June 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  10. ^ "Blue Plaque commemorating Patrick Abercrombie". 24 March 2013.
  11. ^ "Abercrombie, Sir (Leslie) Patrick, (1879–23 March 1957), Professor Emeritus of Town Planning in the University of London; Hon. Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge; Officer de la Couronne, of Belgium; Member of Royal Commission on the Location of Industry; Chairman of CPRE; CHM. Of Housing Centre; Pres., International Union of Architects; Pres. Franco-British Union of Architects". Who Was Who. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U233869.
  12. ^ "Campaign for the Preservation of Rural England (CPRE)". Retrieved 5 April 2008.


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