David Budworth, who died on 9 February, began studying the history of Bedford Park on his retirement and became the leading expert on the area through his research, writing and organisation of exhibitions.
Born in 1934, David made his career as a research scientist and subsequently in roles concerned with science policy. He read Physics with Astronomy at Leeds University and completed a PhD there. He continued his research career in the USA before returning to the UK in 1961. He then turned away from theoretical physics, focussing his career around the field of ceramics on which he lectured at Sheffield University. Following this, he held a research post at Doulton Research. Later, he held posts concerned with science policy for The Technical Change Centre and for the Confederation of British Industry. He was the Co-ordinator of the Nanotechnology Link Programme when he was awarded the MBE in 1994: “For scientific services to Industry.”
David moved to Sydney House in 1971 and during his retirement applied his rigorous scientific approach to research on the history of Bedford Park. His work was always based on a careful analysis of local archival and other original material and covered a wide range of topics. Using this archival material – and eschewing hearsay and the repetition of other’s views – his writing would always add new knowledge and insights into the rich past of Bedford Park. His Jonathan Carr’s Bedford Park is an account of the construction of Bedford Park, supported by detailed records from the Middlesex Deeds Register and local government records. His meticulous researches into the Carr family attracted the attention of a descendant, resulting in the Society being able to publish an authentic photographic image of a 19-year old Carr for the first time. This work also formed the research base for Andrew Saint’s important paper Bedford Park Radical Suburb, proposing that Carr’s family and connections suggested that Bedford Park was characterised as much by its radicalism as by an engagement with the aesthetic.
David was joint compiler with Sandra Grant of Bedford Park Pictures from the Past published by the Society in 2013 and an invaluable helper, first to Lawrence Dutson and later to Christina Speight, on Mainly About Bedford Park People. He contributed articles on many other aspects of the suburb to the Brentford & Chiswick Local History Society Journal, giving talks and sometimes conducting walks around the neighbourhood. A fine example of his papers was his fascinating essay on the neglected figure of Alice Woods, a reforming educationalist and headmistress of the Bedford Park School from its foundation in 1884 as a co-educational and non-sectarian establishment. In 2017 he organised a remarkable exhibition, recreating the momentous 1967 exhibition, which had led to the saving of Bedford Park by the listing of its houses, and also tracking the visual evolution of Bedford Park since that time.
He was a member of the Bedford Park Society committee for several years up until 2016 and continued to act as the Society’s Historical Adviser until his death. He was ready at any time to offer precious advice based on his profound knowledge of the history of the buildings of Bedford Park.
A familiar figure around Bedford Park, always trimly dressed, and invariably armed with the camera he used to make careful visual records of changes and developments, he was always ready to stop to share information about Bedford Park. He regularly dealt with enquiries from all over the world about the history and architecture of the suburb, often going to enormous lengths to provide detailed information.
David’s wife Kathleen, an actor, died in 2014 after a long illness through which David had devotedly nursed her.