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Night of the Dalek for county architects

By Toby Neal | Shrewsbury | Features | Published:

If a Dalek were to go to a ball, a ball for Shropshire architects might not be the first to come to mind.

The Dalek listens politely to the speech by Geoffrey Hamley.

But the picture from Mrs Gill Cartwright is proof that one of the feared robotic villains of many a Doctor Who episode not only popped along, but listened politely to the speeches, although admittedly it was a rather crudely fashioned member of the universe's master race.

"The function was the Shropshire County Council architects' ball held at the Lion Hotel, Wyle Cop, Shrewsbury, in the upstairs ballroom, in 1965 or 1966," said Gill.

"I was then Gill Morris, a 19 or 20-year-old, and worked in 'Drawing Office 2' of the architects department, but was not myself an architect.

"The county architects department was based at Column House, in the main brick building, and DO2 was in one of the prefabs at the back. DO1 and 3 were in parallel prefabs. There were also surveyors and others in the building somewhere. It was a very large department.

Gill arriving with Tony Newall.

"The architects in DO2, and others I’m sure, were responsible for the design work and supervision of the building of the new Shirehall, a very important project then for the department and also the county itself, costing substantial sums of money.

"Architects Alec Jeffries, Reg Dutton, Peter Parker Jones and Tony Newall were all involved, together with county architect Ralph Crowe, and others, though sadly none of them are on the photograph.

"I imagine the Dalek may have been constructed by some clever folk from the department, but am unsure.

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"I think the tall man standing at the back laughing and clapping may be Paddy, who worked in the furniture design office of the department. He worked with a girl called Pam Webb, who came from Shrewsbury.

"It would be wonderful if anyone remembers this event, as I’d love to hear more details than I am able to remember.

This group appears to be listening to the speeches.

"I am on the photograph sitting on the radiator with my feet on a chair, laughing and clapping, presumably at the speech being made by Geoffrey Hamley – I'm not sure of that spelling. The Dalek was I guess something to do with his speech. Probably Daleks were something new in those days?

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"Geoffrey Hamley may have taken over from Ralph Crowe as county architect."

Another of her pictures taken at the event shows her arriving with Tony Newall.

"I went with him to the event. Sadly he died nine years ago, but had had a happy life with his partner for many years prior to his death. He was a lovely man.

"At the time of the ball I was living with my parents in Ellesmere, and now live in Welshampton with my husband, and have done for 50 years.

"If anyone has any information on the function I would be pleased to hear."

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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