Derby

'Oldest railway cottages' architect to retire

Railway cottages in Derby Image copyright Lathams
Image caption The railway cottages in Derby were built to house workers in about 1840 and renovated in 1981

An architect who worked with Prince Charles and saved the "oldest railway cottages in the world" is retiring after specialising in conservation for 35 years.

Derek Latham, of Derby, restored the city's railway cottages in the 1980s and has spent much of his career bringing old buildings back into use.

He also helped restore the Victoria Quarter in Leeds and Nottingham Castle.

Mr Latham said he now plans to concentrate on renovating churches.

The 68 year old, who founded Lathams in 1980, said highlights of his career included the restoration of the old Midland Railway cottages.

"They were mostly derelict and the whole idea was for them to be demolished. It was in the early days of conservation when not everyone thought it was a good idea," he said.

Image copyright Lathams
Image caption The railway cottages in Derby were originally earmarked for demolition to make way for a dual carriageway

He said they were thought to be the first purpose-built railway worker houses anywhere in the world and it was vital their heritage was preserved.

"The hardest part was convincing people they were a desirable place to live."

The architect has also worked with Prince Charles, notably on the Jewellery Quarter scheme in Birmingham.

Image copyright Lathams
Image caption Birmingham's Jewellery Quarter is home to many traditional metal working businesses

Mr Latham said it was a "fascinating experience" to work with the prince and share his passion for people and architecture.

His firm has also worked on the refurbishment of Nottingham Castle, which attracts about 350,000 visitors each year.

Image copyright Lathams
Image caption The original castle was torn down following the civil war in the 17th Century and replaced by a mansion house

The architect said the work, which incorporated damaged materials from a fire in 1891, was done in phases to allow it to remain open.

He has also won numerous awards for conservation work, including the Victoria Quarter in Leeds and Tynemouth Station.

Image copyright Lathams
Image caption The Victoria Quarter in Leeds features a "giant conservatory"
Image copyright Lathams
Image caption Lathams was given an award from English Heritage for its work on Tynemouth Station

Mr Latham said he now intends to get "out of the hair" of his co-directors and work on other projects, including renovating old churches threatened with demolition.

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