Sheila Gooch

Norfolk architect Sheila Gooch, who had a particular interest in design for the disabled, has died at the age of 78.

Norfolk architect Sheila Gooch, who had a particular interest in design for the disabled, has died at the age of 78.

Mrs Gooch and her husband Michael ran the M&S Gooch practice in Norwich and later Halesworth from 1958 to 1990.

During that time Mrs Gooch was one of the very few women in the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Eastern Region.

Mrs Gooch, nee Ward, was born in Deptford, south east London, in 1928 and went to school in Wimbledon where her retired seaman father lived and worked at the All England Lawn Tennis Club.

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In 1944 Mrs Gooch enrolled at the local school of art to study archit-ecture and in 1950 went on to design new schools for bombed-out London.

It was during this time she met Michael Gooch, originally from Wymondham, and they married in 1952 and returned to Norfolk in 1956.

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Shortly after having their second child, Mrs Gooch set up in practice at Gurney Court, off Magdalen Street in Norwich. The following year Mr Gooch moved from Norwich City Hall to join her at M and S Gooch and they moved to Tombland Alley in 1962.

There the practice prospered in the dynamic 1960s - when Mrs Gooch created a series of well-proportioned modern houses - and survived the troubled 70s.

Very early on she developed a special interest in design for the disabled and her innovative Reepham Housing Trust of 1965 recently made headlines in the EDP when it was admired by architect Crispin Lambert who said: “this unique design still works well.”

Other objects for the disabled included the Grove Cheshire Home and the Rae Memorial Homes at Hingham.

Her Group Surgery at Swaffham won a Civic Trust Commendation in 1965, the first of many awards for the practice.

Another of her buildings was the Norwich Labour Club which was opened in 1968 by then prime minister Harold Wilson.

In 1975 Mrs Gooch was elected president of the Norfolk Association of Architects and two years later began a decade of new projects for Thorpe House School.

In retirement Mr and Mrs Gooch co-wrote The People of a Suffolk Town, Halesworth 1100-1900.

Mrs Gooch died on July 19 after a short illness. She is survived by her husband and children Simon and Joanna.

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