OBITUARY : L Elie Mayorcas

Elie Mayorcas, the architect, was a prominent member of the "Festival of Britain" generation of architects who came to the fore in the immediate post-war period.

Mayorcas qualified at the Architectural Association school in 1939 and on the outbreak of war joined the Royal Engineers, rising to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. He narrowly avoided capture by the Japanese at the fall of Singapore, being ordered to leave with a small group on the last boat out. This became the target of a number of Japanese torpedoes, but, being a small, old flat- bottomed craft the torpedoes passed harmlessly below it. After a long and harrowing voyage across the Indian Ocean the group under his command eventually reached Ceylon. By then in a state of near starvation, they were refused permission to land by the au- thorities, who accused them of being deserters. Fortunately Mayorcas had taken the precaution of insisting on written orders and they were accorded a hero's welcome.

On demobilisation he set up in private practice and established a reputation as a leading designer, particularly of schools during the great expansion of school-building in the Fifties and Sixties. Many of these were for the counties of Middlesex and Kent, a typical one for the latter being the Gravesend Gordon School described by Pevsner as "unusually elegant". In fact "elegance" characterised all his works and indeed the man himself and, although always designing in an uncompromisingly modern style, he brought to it a sensitivity and attention to scale which became his hallmark.

As his practice expanded so did the variety of his work which encompassed industrial housing and medical buildings as well as schools. One of his main commissions was the rebuilding of the St John's Wood barracks for the Royal Horse Artillery. This complex assignment involved the design of 22 disparate buildings grouped round the parade ground including, besides the barracks, the large troop stables and the renovation of the fine but dilapidated 1825 riding school with its 14 massive and splendid 85ft queen- post trusses. The end result is a coherent whole, the stables being a particularly successful interpretation of the traditional re- quirements for accommodating a large number of horses.

Elie Mayorcas was a Londoner born and bred. He was sometimes described as the capital's last pedestrian as from the end of the war he never owned or drove a car. His slight, elegant figure, always immaculate and always wearing a brown fedora which accentuated his remarkable resemblance to the young George Raft, proceeded sedately from his fine Georgian house in Devonshire Place to his offices in Baker Street. For many years he lived the life of a comfortably off bachelor in a style perhaps more typical of the Twenties or Thirties than the post-war period.

He was a great believer in giving responsibility to young architects and the very many whose careers have been influenced by their time in his office will remember him with affection and respect. Retiring from practice in 1976 he continued to build up his interesting and eclectic collection of paintings which ranged from 18th- century classical to some exceptional examples of Dame Laura Knight.

He married quite late in life and left London to live with his wife Bridget on her farm in Hampshire. There, surrounded by horses, dogs and stepchildren, this essentially urban and urbane man resolutely maintained his total indifference to country life.

Patric Guest

Elie Mayorcas was my landlord for more than 30 years, and never a cross word did I hear from him, writes Bernard Levin. For most of those years he lived literally under me, and if he didn't like Wagner, he never by word or gesture made that clear.

The building in which we both lived went back to the end of the 18th century, and Elie not only loved it, but made sure that it kept its pristine nature. (It still does.) I remember, though it was many years ago, that the original front door had to be removed, so gnarled and twisted had it become. Elie bemoaned its going as though it was a favourite son who had fallen into bad hands.

A visit to his duplex was a gracious pleasure; from the bow he never forgot as he opened the door, to the immediate glass of wine (and Elie knew wine from wine) a discussion might range from politics to the rental.

That sounds like the perfect gentleman, and the perfect gentleman Elie was. He would shake his head in sorrow when he read of the beastlinesses of modern life, but he never for a moment failed to live up to the standards he lived by. It was a pleasure to have known him, and anyone who did know him, will not forget him.

Elie Mayorcas, architect: born London 12 November 1908; married 1990 Bridget Edwards (nee Nicholson); died Monk Sherborne, Hampshire 18 August 1995.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs People

Guru Careers: Graduate Resourcer / Recruitment Account Executive

£18k + Bonus: Guru Careers: We are seeking a bright, enthusiastic and internet...

Reach Volunteering: Chair and trustees sought for YMCA Bolton

VOLUNTARY ONLY - EXPENSES REIMBURSED: Reach Volunteering: Bolton YMCA is now a...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher

£150 - £180 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Geography Teacher Geography teach...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine