Lyndon F (Toby) Cave

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Lyndon F (Toby) Cave, Dip Arch. M Phil. FSA.
(1923 -2014)

The Leamington History Group is saddened to hear that our President, Toby, passed away on 12th May 2014. We are grateful that his son has allowed us to reproduce this tribute to his father.

Lyndon F Cave, known to his family and friends as Toby, was born in Cheltenham on July 4th 1923.  After various moves in his early years the family settled for a while in Rhyl on the North Wales Coast.  It was from here that he enrolled at the Liverpool University School of Architecture.  Poor health having excluded him from front line service his war was spent in Liverpool and London fire-watching by night and, by day, deciding the final fate of bomb-damaged buildings. Employment in Derby in the early 1950s brought him briefly to Nottingham.  It was there that he met Betty and they married!  They moved to Leamington in 1953 to be closer to other family members.

The family moved to Portland Street in 1958; soon after the sign of Lyndon F Cave Architect was proudly fixed by the front door.  Although he readily took on the architect’s staple fare of housing schemes and building extensions, his real passion was the conservation and restoration of older buildings, and the care of urban and rural environments. An essential part of his strategy was the encouragement and enabling of others in this work.

Any list of his projects and involvements is bound to be incomplete. Apologies to any who are overlooked.  To the best of the writer’s memory Toby was involved in the founding of the CPRE Warwickshire Branch, (now the Campaign to Protect Rural England).  Locally he was an early member of the Leamington Society,  the Warwickshire Industrial Archaeological Association,  the Leamington Building Conservation Trust, CLARA (Central Leamington Residents’ Association), the Leamington Local History Group and nationally with the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings, the Ancient Monuments Society and the Redundant Churches Fund.  For many years he was invited to local authority planning meetings as an advisor.  Dedicated to Leamington for more than 50 years … as far as the planners were concerned Toby was the town’s living memory.

He was an enthusiastic scholar; he studied for his M Phil at the University of Warwick, and was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries.  He passed on his knowledge by lecturing for the extra mural departments of Warwick and Birmingham Universities.  His students simply refused to let him retire!  His books included two editions of A History of Royal Leamington Spa, a volume on Warwickshire Villages and a study of English Domestic Architecture which became a university-level text.

Following Betty’s death in 2009 and with his own health in decline he moved to Sherborne (Dorset) in 2011.  His heart stayed in Leamington; thanks to his lap-top he could stay in contact with Leamington friends and their concerns.  He died in Yeovil Hospital on May 12th.  His funeral, under Sherborne Abbey’s spectacular fan-vaulting, was on May 27th.

Writers have their books, musicians their records, and artists their paintings.  The clue to locating an Architect’s legacy is in Christopher Wren’s famous words, “look around you”.

The residents of Leamington enjoy an urban and rural environment which is the envy of many towns in England and abroad.  The town centre retains its historic buildings and traditional gardens; there are thoughtful standards for the central Leamington area, a sensible accommodation has been reached between the county’s rural environment and its geographical destiny as a route for the nation’s motorways.  Toby’s most important legacy is the army of organisations and dedicated individuals who will continue his passion for Leamington into the future.  A memorial event will be arranged later in the year.

William Cave