Gordon Bridger, a member of our executive, died peacefully at home 27th November 2020, he was 92.
Gordon Bridger was a member of The Guildford Society for 50 years, during that time he was an active and influential member of the Society, still attending as a member of our executive committee until his recent short illness.
Gordon was born and grew up in Argentina. He first came to England when he was 19, and studied at the London School of Economics. He supplemented his economics degree with a Master's in agricultural economics at Manchester. His working life was as an economist dealing with developing countries around the world being employed by the UK government and the UN. This resulted in him living and/or working in almost every state of the current Commonwealth and many others besides.
Gordon arrived in Guildford, with his wife Jean and family in 1962 and joined the Society in 1964, becoming an active member.
He was elected chairman in 1972. During his time as Chairman he reinvigorated the society presiding over a doubling of membership.
A highlight of his term in office was a substantial exhibition and series of related events – “Guildford ‘72”, which he was instrumental in organising. The event included involvement from Guildford Council, S E Chapter of Architects, the Civic Trust, the National Trust and the University.
During this period, a design group of architects, designers and artists was set up – which has continued to this day as the Design and Heritage Working group.
Many of the issues Gordon dealt with as chairman are familiar today; including Flood Prevention, successfully fighting off plans for a multistorey car park at Millbrook, and engaging with plans to build housing Merrow and Burpham. The society also campaigned for a pedestrianised High Street collecting over 10,000signatures in support.
Gordon was especially proud of The Society winning a Public Inquiry to prevent a proposed redevelopment of 57 Quarry Street a grade II listed building.
Gordon stepped back from being Chairman and ultimately turned his efforts to politics being elected a Guildford Borough councillor in 1991 as a Liberal Democrat. He became Mayor in 2003, and stood down as a councillor in 2007. Gordon became a Honary Alderman of Guildford council.
Gordon remained an active member of the Society until his death being a member of the society’s executive committee, and leading our Local Economy Working Group. He was an active campaigner on many issues, recently turning his inquiring mind to the SANG Policy implementation in the borough, and questioning the councils approach to the letting of Burchetts Farm.
Gordon was interviewed in 1972 when he became Society Chairman, where it was stated that:‘He would like to see architects/planners with a greater sense of sympathy for Guildford’s environment, and homes, particularly for young people, provided in the town centre instead of leaving it exclusively to shops and offices.’ Lets hope his ideas and respect for heritage can be fulfilled.
Gordon had a full and varied life, particularly with a career that required him to work on a global scale. It is amazing that he found time to contribute so much to Guildford through his involvment as a local politician and member of various Local Societies.
All in the Society will miss his friendship, intellect, humour, and the energy that he bought to our activities. He was a great character and staunch defender of Guildford, a town he loved. He will be greatly missed.
Our thoughts are with his wife Jean and the rest of the Bridger family.
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