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Shrewsbury architect and author remembered for 'remarkable' life

By Nick Humphreys | Shrewsbury | News | Published:

A former architect and author of Shrewsbury history books has been remembered for her "remarkable" life.

Mary de Saulles authored The Book of Shrewsbury

Mary de Saulles, of the Shrewsbury Civic Society, died on June 17 aged 95.

She designed British Airways original red square logo, spent her last 50 years in Shrewsbury, and was one of the oldest patients to have open heart surgery at the age of 90.

Born in Essex in 1925, she moved to boarding school in London before being evacuated to Devon in the Second World War, where she developed an interest in design.

She moved to Hereford for an apprenticeship with a surveyors office, before attending architectural training in London in 1942.

While there she met future husband Patrick de Saulles. Before he was conscripted to the Navy, Mary plucked up the courage to ask for a correspondence address and they stayed in touch while he was enlisted. They married in Southend in 1946.

She worked as an architect for a private company as well as for London City Council at the time of rebuilding schools and hospitals after the Blitz.

While working for British European Airways, now British Airways, she designed the original red square logo on a dining table over supper, which later adorned the aircraft as well as terminal signage, furnishings, fittings and literary material.

It was one of the earliest examples of corporate identity. BA repainted two of their aircraft in Mary's 1950's 'red square' livery as part of their centenary celebrations. Mary was elected a Fellow of the Chartered Society of Designers in recognition of her work.

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At age 40, Mary had her first son, Martin and the family went to live in New York for a short time.

Mary and Patrick chose to settle in Shropshire, where both her father and then sister had grown up. Their second son, Stephen, was born in 1967, shortly before they moved to Shrewsbury later that year, where they set up practice in a house at No. 8 Belmont.

She wrote The Book of Shrewsbury for Barracuda Books, published in 1986.

Patrick died in 1997 after a stroke, and Mary then took advantage of her experiences and qualifications in architecture and design to promote Shrewsbury's historic heritage at a time when many historic buildings were under threat.

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She also acted as an expert witness for Robert Plant, he of Led Zepellin, in a planning appeal on a historic half-timbered house he wanted to adapt.

In 2012, Logaston Press published The Story of Shrewsbury, an updated version of her earlier work, with coloured illustrations and many photos taken by her son Stephen.

In 2015 she was diagnosed as having “sudden death syndrome” and At 90, she had open heart surgery to replace a valve.

She had to learn to walk again but came back fighting.

Selby Martin, from the Shrewsbury Civic Society, said: "Mary's life had been marked by many remarkable achievements. She was highly intelligent but also determined in all matters that she pursued.

"At the Civic Society's Planning Committee, she will be remembered for her unwavering insistence on high quality, particularly in planning and designs for the conservation area.

"Yet she had a delightful and charming personality, friendly and generous to all.

"As a community, we and especially the Civic Society have benefited so much from her efforts. It is sad that she is no longer with us, and we will miss her."

Nick Humphreys

By Nick Humphreys
Senior Reporter

Senior reporter for the Shropshire Star focusing on Shrewsbury.

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