Obituary: Professor Gerald Wibberley

Gerald Percy Wibberley, agricultural economist: born 15 April 1915; Assistant Lecturer, Manchester University 1940-41; District Officer, East Sussex Agricultural Committee 1941-43, Assistant Executive Officer 1943-44; Assistant Rural Land Utilisation Officer, Ministry of Agriculture 1944-49, Research Officer, Land Use 1949-54; Head of Department of Economics, Wye College, London University 1954- 69, Reader in Agricultural Economics 1958-62, Professor of Rural Economy 1963-69, Fellow 1985; director CoSIRA, 1968-86; President, British Agricultural Economics Society 1975- 76; Chairman, Rural Planning Service Ltd 1972-82; married Helen Yeomans (died 1963; one daughter), 1972 Peggy Samways; died Charing, Kent 8 November 1993.

GERALD WIBBERLEY played a leading role in raising public awareness of the need to have a balance of activities in the countryside in order to protect the environment itself and the welfare of the people living in it.

Wibberley was born in Abergavenny, in the shadow of the Black Mountains, in 1915. He took a First Class honours degree in Agriculture at the University College of Wales, Aberystwyth, where he was greatly influenced by the doyen of agricultural economics, Arthur Ashby, and completed a masters degree at the Agricultural Economics Research Institute, Oxford, and his Ph D at the University of Illinois.

He returned to Britain in 1940 and was appointed District Officer of the East Sussex Agricultural Committee with the wartime task of encouraging maximum food production. In addition to these activities, he was also a member of a Home Guard guerrilla unit, which, in the event of an enemy invasion, was trained to operate behind enemy lines. He had many amusing anecdotes about these secret, underground activities, which did not offend his Quaker beliefs.

After the war, he joined the Rural Land Utilisation section of the Ministry of Agriculture, where he began to develop his perception of the economic and social implications arising from competing uses of rural land. His views became a challenge to the conventional orthodoxy of farming first. He found this discomforting within the bureaucracy, so he moved into

academe.

It is perhaps forgotten how powerful the farming lobby was when Wibberley was appointed Reader and Head of the Department of Agricultural Economics at Wye College in 1954. There was vociferous opposition to his main theme: emphasising the importance of non- farming uses of land. This opposition was especially marked towards seminal works such as The Garden Controversy (1956), by R. Best and J. Ward, and Wibberley's Agriculture and Urban Growth (1959). But these publications greatly influenced both generations of students, and thought and legislation on land-use planning over the next 20 years.

Wibberley was appointed Professor of Rural Economy in 1963 and Ernest Cook Professor of Countryside Planning, jointly between University College, London, and Wye College in 1969. At that time he was greatly in demand as an expert witness, and on large land-use commissions, such as those inquiring into the proposed site for Third London Airport, Lyme New Town and Milton Keynes.

Although he provided leadership in dealing with the problems (which increasing affluence and mobility brought to the countryside), he nevertheless showed himself to be, academically, a man of vision who doggedly pursued a multi- disciplinary approach. The teaching and research undertaken in his department embraced not only the traditional subjects of agricultural policy and farm business management, but also the conservation and socio-economics of the countryside and agrarian development in the Third World. The latter arose from his contact with agricultural faculties of universities, in Africa and the West Indies, in a special relationship with London University.

Wibberley's insight and forecasts have thus changed the resource balance and focus of Wye College, to meet the present needs of rural development, at home and overseas.

He was a director of the Council for Small Industries in Rural Areas, a member of the Nature Conservancy Council, and an honorary member of the Royal Town Planning Institute. He was president of the Agricultural Economics Society in 1976, appointed CBE in 1972 and awarded an honorary DSc by Bradford University in 1982, the year he retired. In 1985 he was elected a Fellow of Wye College.

Gerald Wibberley was a kindly and attractive man, held in affection by friends, colleagues and students alike. Though quintessentially an academic, he was a man of compassion; so his studies tended to focus on problems of rural deprivation - as they affected farm and rural workers and rural youth. He gave much thought to the problems of creating rural employment and to the adverse impact of second homes on village life and economy.

His gift for public speaking was memorable; even his economics lectures gained the rapt attention of his students. But he was at his most eloquent when gently berating a hostile audience for not seeing the folly of their views.

Gerald Wibberley also loved music and had a fine tenor voice; singing with local choral societies was for him a source of great pleasure. On occasions he even strummed a guitar while singing a country and western song.

(Photograph omitted)

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
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

Recruitment Genius: HR Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are in need of a HR Manage...

h2 Recruit Ltd: Business Development Manager - HR Consultancy - £65,000 OTE

£35000 - £40000 per annum + £65,000 OTE: h2 Recruit Ltd: London, Birmingham, M...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas