Noted architect and record-breaking fell runner

Date: Monday 16th April 2018
Ed Hill takes a rest at Keswick after completing the Bob Graham 42 peaks route in 1975.
Ed Hill takes a rest at Keswick after completing the Bob Graham 42 peaks route in 1975.

AN architect who led design teams on two major teaching hospitals, Edward Hill, of Penrith, has died, aged 91.

Born at Glusburn, North Yorkshire, Ed was the second of four sons to John and Janet Hill. The family later moved to Crosshills where Ed and his brothers — Cameron, David and Patrick — grew up.

On leaving Keighley Boys’ Grammar School, Ed was articled to an architecture practice but his training was interrupted when, as an 18-year-old, he signed up to serve with the Royal Navy aboard minesweepers during World War II.

After the war, Ed enrolled at Liverpool University to study architecture and, while still a student, in 1950 wed his wife of 55 years, the late Kate. The pair went on to have six children — Nick, Simon, Jane, Adam, Emily and Catherine, who died in infancy — and 17 grandchildren.

Ed followed up his degree with a Masters in town planning before taking up a post with eminent architect Lionel Brett at Watlington, Oxfordshire.

A return to the North came when Ed joined Preston-based Building Design Partnership, where he remained for the rest of his career, retiring as one of four managing partners in what had grown to become Europe’s biggest multi-disciplinary design firm.

The twin landmarks of his working life were leading design teams on Leeds General Infirmary Medical School and later Queen’s Medical Centre, Nottingham. In an era before computer-aided design. These huge projects were largely mapped out on hand-drawn plans — and seeing them through to completion took years of long hours, sustained focus and attention to detail from all involved.

For many years the family lived at Clitheroe, Lancashire, where Ed became an early exponent of fell running — a passion he first discovered at the age of 42.

He went on to take part at a high level, competing in many of the classic fell races. In his years in the sport, Ed joined a select group of runners who have completed 21 consecutive outings at the Three Peaks race.

He was among the earliest, in 1979, to follow in the footsteps of the now legendary Bob Graham, and complete his famous “round” of 42 Lake District peaks — 74 miles in 24 hours.

At the time Ed was the oldest man to have completed the Bob Graham Round and later went on to break his own record by completing 50 peaks in 24 hours at the age of 50.

Ed and his long-time running partner, the late George Brass, competed 17 times in the Karrimor two-man mountain marathon, running for the last time when Ed was aged 65 in the “super veteran” class. This was a proud occasion as they scooped the “A class” veteran handicap title, with a combined age of 123.

In 1984 Ed and Kate moved to Hartsop, near Patterdale, where they lived for around 17 years before Kate’s failing health prompted a move to Penrith.

Both were active in the Eden community, with Ed serving as churchwarden at St Patrick’s, Patterdale and chairman of governors at Patterdale School, and he was a committed member of Penrith and the Border Liberal Democrats.

Additionally, he was for many years vice-chairman of governors at the Cumbria Institute of the Arts, Carlisle, of which he was made an honorary fellow in 2006. In retirement Ed took on a handful of architectural projects for friends and family, including the design and build of a home in Newport, Pembrokeshire, for himself and Kate, where they spent many happy times.

On moving to Penrith, Ed and Kate joined the United Reformed Church, Lowther Street, where they enjoyed the fellowship of the congregation and clergy, and where Ed also served as an elder.

After Kate’s death in 2005, Ed continued to lead an active and independent life, increasingly supported by his family.

Until his 89th year, he was still an active part of a walking group, taking to the fells for weekly hikes.

He will be remembered by those who knew him for his intelligence, his single-mindedness and his stoicism, which stayed with him to the end.

Ed is survived by his children, Nick, of Barton, Pooley Bridge; Simon, of Somerset; Jane Hatt, of London; Adam, of Penrith; and Emily Atherton, of Lancaster, along with 17 grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. He also leaves his brothers, David, of Skipton, and Patrick, of Bridgenorth, Shropshire.