OBITUARY : Trevor Russell-Cobb

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The Independent Online
One of the first in Britain to advocate industrial patronage of the arts, Trevor Russell-Cobb was a man of strongly independent views. These were sometimes perceived as eccentric, but they sprang from a bedrock of intellectual pursuits.

His 1968 monograph Paying the Piper - the theory and practice of industrial patronage was a pioneering work. Its prime objective was "to persuade industry to play a fuller part in the communities from which it draws its sustenance by spending money in support of art and artists". Practising what he preached, Russell-Cobb commissioned on behalf of his own company works from John Gardner for the 1963 Farnham Festival and from Malcolm Williamson for the 1968 Brighton Festival.

Brought up in a musical household (from the age of six he accompanied his mother, who taught singing at the Webber-Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art) and educated at Wellington College, Russell-Cobb trained as a pianist at the Royal College of Music. His first paid job was in the London Stock Exchange, but this was not at all his metier. With the outbreak of the Second World War he enlisted in the Welsh Guards, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel.

While working at the British Council he enrolled at London University as an external student and took two degrees, the first, a BA in English in 1952 and the second a BSc (Econ) in 1956. Tempted by the remuneration, he took a job in Geneva for the United Nations on the staff of its technical assistance programme, but did not find international diplomacy a sufficient challenge and returned to his favourite city, London. Having become a director of the public relations consultants Campbell Johnson, he set up his own PR consultancy, Russell-Cobb Limited. This was a career that occupied him on and off for the rest of his working life.

A lover of music and a talented pianist, Russell-Cobb was a director of the English Chamber Orchestra from 1953 to 1978. He was elected to the Council of the Royal Society of Arts in 1972 and became its Treasurer for five years from 1978. He worked to raise money for the Victorian Society and launched Enterprise Neptune for the National Trust. He was until his death a trustee of the Sir John Soane Museum and succeeded Lord (Asa) Briggs as Chairman of the Foundation for Ephemera Studies. He was a life member of numerous learned societies, the Johnson Society, the William Morris Society and the Society of Architectural Historians being his favourites.

Trevor Russell-Cobb had a wide circle of friends and an impressive general knowledge. Over the years he amassed a library of over 30,000 books, which were his pride and joy. There was virtually no booklist or second-hand bookshop with which he was unfamiliar.

Leslie Sayers

Trevor Russell-Cobb, public relations consultant: born Chalfont St Peter, Buckinghamshire 3 February 1918; married 1940 Suzanne Chambers (one son, one daughter; marriage dissolved), 1952 Nan Piquet-Wicks (nee Stanley Hughes, died 1979; two sons); died London 31 January 1996.