Life & Work

Wycliffe was born in Greenock spending his early childhood in the Port of Wick, Northern Scotland, as well as in Edinburgh, Liverpool, Leeds and Poplar in London’s East End.

His parents were commissioned by the Salvation Army to command various centres in the UK and their devotion and commitment to their community influenced Wycliffe’s attitude in his formative years and in his professional life.

He excelled as an enthusiastic painter and draughtsman and coupled with his earlier home-life by the sea he developed a lifetime interest in boating, rowing, contemporary music and a fascination for vintage cars.

The Joystrings in the backstreets of London
The Joystrings in the backstreets of London

His interest in tone drumming lead him to be tutored on the timpani by Jack Wilson of the Royal Opera house and later by Kenny Claire jazz drummer extraordinaire. Later he became percussionist to the Joystrings and, with Joy Webb, undertook European tours, recording with them at Abbey Road Studios under the direction of EMI producer Walter Ridley.

Wycliffe was encouraged by his father to read contemporary social architecture and studied at the School of Architecture, London at the University of Westminster where he qualified. He was admitted to the Royal Institute of British Architects as an associate and was invited to join the design team and staff as coordinating architect for the 1951 Festival of Britain. Here Wycliffe was led by Sir Hugh Casson, Director of architecture and Misha Black, Director of design, meeting renowned sculptors and artists such as Henry Moore, Barbara Hepworth, Topolski, Nicholson and Walcott.

In addition to his practice he ran, as a volunteer with his wife Elizabeth, a Salvation Army club for disabled people in Paddington. Here he witnessed at first hand the appalling housing conditions in which his disabled club members lived. Something had to be done.

There was no national dynamic housing policy in existence and after a radio broadcast on the BBC’s Thought For The Day he was invited by Lady Hamilton to the Central Council for the Disabled (now RADAR).

He travelled extensively studying and reviewing programmes of accessibility in Scandinavia, Japan and the USA. He designed the Toward Housing Disabled People Exhibition – a milestone in accessibility awareness. He received the DOE Award for Good Housing for Disabled People for his scheme for the John Grooms Association and was elected as a fellow of the RIBA in 1964. He was awarded the OBE for his services to accessibility in 1976.

Buildings he has made accessible for disabled people include Park House, Sandringham, Somerset House, the Royal Albert Hall and the Houses of Parliament, Westminster.