Tributes to St Albans Civic Society stalwart

FOUNDING member of the St Albans Civic Society, Sir Geoffrey Trevelyan, died on Friday at the age of 90.

Sir Geoffrey, who had been ill for some time, had lived in the city since 1942 and for many years had shared his home near the Abbey Gateway with his son Peter, daughter-in-law Diane and grandson Julian.

As well as being founding chairman of St Albans Civic Society, going on to become president, Sir Geoffrey was a regional director of Abbeyfield and a former chairman of St Albans Tour Guides.

He was an active man until late into his life, realising a long-held ambition to go trekking in the Himalayas when he was in his mid seventies and climbing Machu Picchu, the gateway to the Inca Trail in Peru, when he was 80.

He was also a capable cabinet-maker who made well-designed and attractive oak pieces.

Born in Cambo, Northumberland in 1920, the second son of Labour MP and government minister Sir Charles Trevelyan, his full title was Fifth Baronet of Wallington.

He went to Trinity College, Cambridge, where he obtained a First in engineering and in September 1941, he started work with de Havilland Aircraft at Salisbury Hall in London Colney, working on Mosquito planes,

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Afterwards he was based at Hatfield and worked on the next generation of planes, the Vampire, Venom, DH108, DH110 and the Comet.

In 1962 he became a director of publishing house, Chatto and Windus in London, a role which suited a man who was a great reader of everything from classic novels to reference books.

For a five-year period in the late 1970s/early 1980s, he and his wife Gillian, who died in 2000, ran Seatoller House in Borrowdale, a guest house in the Lake District, although he retained his home in St Albans throughout that period.

A keen huntsman, he was master of the Trevelyan Man Hunt, an annual event in the Lake District based at Seatoller House.

His last employment was as a technical writer but he kept busy in retirement, serving as regional secretary and then director of the Abbeyfield Society and still enjoying hill-walking and climbing – with his son Peter, also a past chairman of the Civic Society, he climbed Grossglockner in the Alps.

One of his great pleasures in later life, having studied the piano in Vienna briefly before the war, was to listen to his 11-year-old grandson play that instrument.

Paying tribute to his father, Peter Trevelyan said this week: “He was a doer, a practical man because he was an engineer and that coloured all his life. He never stood on ceremony and if something needed doing, he would buckle down and do it.”

Sir Geoffrey leaves his son Peter and daughter Sandra, who has two sons, as well as a great-granddaughter.