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Eric Bedford, towering talent.

Byline: Richard Warburton

Architect Eric Bedford, who designed the landmark BT Towers in Birmingham and London, has died in Worcester Royal Infirmary at the age of 91.

Mr Bedford, who retired to Hanley Swan, near Malvern, was one of Britain's foremost building designers and was chief architect for the Ministry of Public Building and Works from 1951 until 1970.

He once pronounced the 1,000-odd new Post Office buildings that were needed after the war should be 'sound, simple and economical' and made sure the design for the London BT Tower - formerly the Post office Tower - was 'elegant and futuristic'.

When the 500ft tower was completed in 1964 it was the tallest building in Britain and Mr Bedford soon turned his attention to Birmingham's tower, on the edge of the Jewellery Quarter.

Faced in concrete, with the board marks of the timber framing left visible, the tower is, at 498ft, the city's highest building and was opened on October 5, 1967.

At 6,000 tons, the building has foundations that sink to 37ft to limit wind sway at the top to less than a third of an inch to stop interference to TV and telephone signals.

Mr Bedford was born on August 23, 1909, near Halifax. He went to Thornton Grammar School near Bradford, where he was a keen rugby player. He then became an apprentice at an architectural practice in Leicester.

From there, he took a post in local government and in 1934 he won a competition for a railway terminal organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects.

In 1936 Mr Bedford joined the Ministry of Public Building and Works. His projects there included grain silos, communication centres and a slaughterhouse in Guildford. In 1950 he became the youngest chief architect to the ministry.

In 1962, Mr Bedford designed the reconstruction of the private chapel at Buckingham Palace, which was turned into an art gallery.

There followed, in 1964, a three-storey residence for the British ambassador in Warsaw, and the nine-storey steel-framed British High Commission Building in Ottawa, nicknamed the 'Ottawa Hilton'.

Mr Bedford retired from the Ministry of Works in 1970 and two years later moved to Versailles for five years to live near his daughter.

When his wife died five years later, Mr Bedford returned to England to live in Hanley Swan where he enjoyed the relaxation of painting and gardening.

He is survived by his daughter.
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Title Annotation:Obituary
Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 14, 2001
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