Edited by Sue Ward from Hentie Louw's tribute at Tom's funeral.
29.8.1943 - 11.07.2014
Tom Faulkner was a distinguished historian of Art, Design & Architecture. Tom's academic career spanned 48 Years, from 1966 to 2014, most of it in Newcastle upon Tyne. He began as a lecturer at the then North Staffordshire Polytechnic, and then in 1974 he became Senior Lecturer History of Architecture and Design at Newcastle Polytechnic, which later became Northumbria University. He held this post until 2004, and after retirement became a Visiting Fellow at the School of Historical Studies in Newcastle University.
His interests were wide-ranging, and so were his commitments. He was an excellent public speaker, totally in command of his subject. This made him popular as a lecturer both with the general public and undergraduate and mature students. Countless numbers of them will remember him fondly for his enthusiasm, and for the informative field trips that formed an integral part of his teaching.
Tom was a NATFHE union representative at Northumbria, and active in both local history societies and national cultural organisations. He was Chair of the local branch of the Victorian Society (1986-9), and later of the Northern Architectural History Society (1996-2003). He liked collaborating on projects and some of his best contributions appeared as joint productions.
He organised local and national conferences on a variety of topics (some of these, for example the First Design History Society Conference, held at Northumbria University in 1975, were quite influential). Public exhibitions like the major bicentennial exhibition on John Dobson, which he and Andrew Greg organised in 1987 at the Laing Art Gallery, and which led to their joint book on Dobson, were another outlet. He was also active in heritage and conservation matters, for example representing The Georgian Group and The Victorian Society on the Newcastle City Council Conservation Forum.
The intellectual environment in the old polytechnics was not conducive to primary research, but he published whenever opportunities arose and when the change in official attitude came during the 1990s he began to prosper. The award of a doctorate by publication by Northumbria in 2000 was just reward for a lifetime committed to the pursuit of scholarship. Tom's early interests were the Art Nouveau, Arts & Crafts Movement and Modernism, with Lethaby and Le Corbusier as key components, but his focus later shifted towards the history of architecture, landscape, planning and garden design of the mid-18th century to the mid-20th century in the North-east of England. His work in this field, often in collaboration with colleagues from different disciplines, broadened and deepened our understanding of the cultural heritage of the region.
Tom died on 11th July 2014. He was working on a second edition of his book Newcastle & Gateshead: architecture and heritage before his final illness, and its publication was a fitting finale to his life's work and his love of the North East and its architecture.
A shorter version of this appeared in Newcastle Antiquaries' News Bulletin 57, December 2014