Obituary: Peter Jordan
Saturday 27 June 1998
His chief leisure activity was figure skating - and not the familiar kind seen on television, involving spins, jumps, and dances. Instead, he specialised in the more esoteric English style, nowadays carried on only by the Royal Skating Club, of which he was President from 1976, at the Sobell rink in Islington, north London.
It is the kind of skating described in the world's first book on the subject (A Treatise on Skating, by Second Lieutenant Robert Jones RA, published in 1772) and popular throughout the 19th century. It requires the skater to hold classic poses in between turns and changes of edge, and to skate in teams of four around a mark placed on the ice - traditionally an orange - while carrying out the unexpected orders shouted by a "caller".
Jordan joined the National Skating Association (NSA), the sport's governing body in Britain, in 1933, and soon passed its second-class silver medal proficiency test. He then began a competitive career that lasted more than 30 years. He was a member of the team which won the sport's major trophy, the Challenge Shield, in 1936, 1960, and 1964. Winner of the Cobb Challenge Cup for individual skating in 1937, he took it again in 1952 and 1955.
He was champion of Great Britain in the English style in 1958 after twice being runner-up, and in the team event for the Bear Challenge Cup he was successful no less than seven times between 1938 and 1969.
Born in 1915, he joined the Royal Engineers on the outbreak of the Second World War, and served with them for the next six years, building bridges and rising to the rank of major. He was later in private practice as an architect, and towards the end of his career became an architectural consultant to the Department of the Environment.
Despite his busy professional life, Jordan found time to devote to the administration of his chosen sport. He was a judge of skating championships and tests, and from 1966 to 1980 was chairman of the NSA's Ice Figure Skating Committee, dealing with both the English and the better-known International style. He contributed articles on English- style figures to the skating press, and occasionally he was able to bring together the two halves of his life - for example, in his book on ice- rink design, A Designer's Guide to Rink Planning (1984), and when he was invited to plan the renovation of Queen's Ice Club in Bayswater, London. He had more recently been involved in plans for a new Richmond Ice Rink.
In 1969, the NSA decided to improve its public image by setting up a Public Relations Committee. Jordan was its chairman, and he invited me to join. As the secretary, I worked with him for the next 11 years, until we were replaced by a salaried Public Relations Officer. In that decade of the 1970s, we never had a cross word, and I came to respect Jordan's skill in defusing the sometimes heated exchanges between fellow committee members, all devoted to the advancement of the association but not always agreeing on the methods. Jordan also gave me full support when I was researching and writing the official centenary history of the NSA (Our Skating Heritage, 1979).
Tall, slim, and debonair, with an elegant carriage both on and off the ice, Peter Jordan stood out in any company. His well-modulated voice and his command of the Queen's English made him an eloquent spokesman for the art of figure skating.
Peter Jordan, architect and ice skater: born 4 February 1915; twice married (two daughters); died Epsom, Surrey 17 May 1998.
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