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Poor Plymouth. It was badly blitzed in the Second World War and then subjected to slash and burn by its city fathers. The modern visitor will find it a maze of concrete blocks, ill-sited towers and ruthless road schemes. Most of this damage was done by one man, Patrick Abercrombie, in the 1950s. The old Barbican district would, in France or Germany, have had its façades restored or rebuilt. Here new buildings were inserted with no feeling for the texture of the old lanes and alleys.
In 1937, he served as President of the Geographical Association. His Presidential Address was entitled 'Geography - the Basis of Planning'.
He is best known for the post-Second World War replanning of London. He created the County of London Plan (1943) and the Greater London Plan (1944) which are commonly referred to as the Abercrombie Plan. The latter document was an extended and more thorough product than the 1943 publication, and for Abercrombie it was an accumulation of nearly 50 years of experience and knowledge in the field of planning and architecture. He appears in the film The Proud City presenting his plan to the public.
In 1945 he published A Plan for the City & County of Kingston upon Hull, with the assistance of Sir Edwin Lutyens. Lutyens had died the year before publication whilst much of the plan was being finalised, and the plan was ultimately rejected by the Councillors of Hull.
From the Abercrombie Plan came the New Towns movement which included the building of Harlow and Crawley and the largest 'out-county' estate, Harold Hill in north-east London. He produced the Clyde Valley Regional Plan in 1946 with Robert Matthew that proposed the new towns of East Kilbride and Cumbernauld. In 1949 he published with Richard Nickson a plan for the redevelopment of Warwick, which proposed demolition of almost all the town's Victorian housing stock and construction of a large inner ring road.
During the postwar years, Abercombie was commissioned by the British government to redesign Hong Kong. In 1956 he was commissioned by Haile Selassie to draw up plans for the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa.
Abercrombie was appointed a Knight Bachelor in the 1945 New Year Honours. In 1948 he became the first president of the newly formed group the International Union of Architects, or the UIA (Union Internationale des Architectes). The group now annually awards the Sir Patrick Abercrombie Prize, for excellence in town planning. In 1950 he received the AIA Gold Medal. The University of Liverpool's Department of Civic Design also continues to award an Abercrombie Prize annually to its top-performing student.
Patrick Abercrombie, Sydney Kelly and Arthur Kelly, Dublin of the future : the new town plan, being the scheme awarded first prize in the international competition, University Press of Liverpool, Liverpool, 1922.
Sir Patrick Abercrombie, The Preservation of Rural England, Hodder and Stoughton Ltd, London, 1926. The book that lead to the foundation of the CPRE.
Patrick Abercrombie and John Archibald, East Kent Regional Planning Scheme Survey, Kent County Council, Maidstone, 1925.
The Earl of Mayo, S. D, Adshead and Patrick Abercrombie, The Thames Valley from Cricklade to Staines: A survey of its existing state and some suggestions for its future preservation, University of London Press, London, 1929
The Earl of Mayo, S.D. Adshead and Patrick Abercrombie, Regional Planning Report on Oxfordshire, Oxford University Press, 1931
Patrick Abercrombie and Sydney A. Kelly, East Suffolk Regional Scheme, University of Liverpool, Liverpool and Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1935 (prepared for the East Suffolk Joint Regional Planning Committee).
Patrick Abercrombie (ed), The Book of the Modern House: A Panoramic Survey of Contemporary Domestic Design, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1939
J. H. Forshaw and Patrick Abercrombie, County of London Plan, Macmillan & Co. 1943.
J. Paton Watson and Patrick Abercrombie, A Plan for Plymouth, Underhill, (Plymouth). Ltd., 1943.
Edwin Lutyens & Patrick Abercrombie, A Plan for the City & County of Kingston upon Hull, Brown (London & Hull), 1945.
Sir Patrick Abercrombie, John Owens & H Anthony Mealand, A Plan for Bath, Sir Isaac Pitman (London) 1945
Sir Patrick Abercrombie & R. H. Matthew, Clyde Valley Regional Plan, His Majesty's Stationery Office, Edinburgh, 1946.
Patrick Abercrombie, Hong Kong Preliminary Planning Report, Government Printer, Hong Kong, 1948.
Patrick Abercrombie and Richard Nickson, Warwick: Its preservation and redevelopment, Architectural Press, 1949.
Sir Patrick Abercrombie, Revised by D. Rigby Childs, Town and Country Planning, Third Edition, Oxford University Press, 1959, Reprinted 1961 and 1967.
^G.M. Miller, BBC Pronouncing Dictionary of British Names (Oxford UP, 1971), p. 1.
^"Abercrombie, Sir (Leslie) Patrick, (1879-23 March 1957), Professor Emeritus of Town Planning in the University of London; Hon. Fellow of St Catharine's College, Cambridge; Officer de la Couronne, of Belgium; Member of Royal Commission on the Location of Industry; Chairman of CPRE; CHM. Of Housing Centre; Pres., International Union of Architects; Pres. Franco-British Union of Architects". Who Was Who. 2007. doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.U233869.