More Than ‘a drummer’
Many Salvationists will remember Wycliffe Noble as the Joystrings’ percussionist. However Wycliffe was more than just ‘a drummer’. Wycliffe was an international pioneer architect and crusader for accessibility for the disabled. An internet search for wycliffenoble.com reveals a man of vision and dedication for people locked out of society.
Perhaps his own childhood experiences of poverty as the son of corps officers during the great depression and his father’s practical social projects at the time were the seed for his social awareness.
Wycliffe’s father encouraged him to read contemporary social architecture at Westminster University. Following admission to the Royal Institute of British Architects as an associate, Wycliffe was invited to join the design team and staff as Coordinating Architect for the 1951 Festival of Britain. There he was led by Sir Hugh Casson, Director of Architecture and Misha Black, Director of Design, meeting renowned sculptors and artists such as Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
After graduating Wycliffe became the secretary of the Army’s Students Fellowship and, remaining a faithful soldier at Kingston, he was the corps’ drummer for more than 40 years and also served as band sergeant.
Inspired by the work of Major Stanley Burton at Paddington Goodwill Centre, Wycliffe and his wife Elizabeth ran a club for disabled people there.
As a result of him speaking on the BBC’s ‘Thought for the day’ programme about accessibility he was invited to become a member of the Central Council for the Care of Cripples, now the Royal Association for Disability and Rehabilitation. In 2010 he was made their Man of the Year.
Wycliffe studied ergonomics at Stoke Mandeville Hospital and won an award to review programmes of accessibility in Scandinavia, Japan and the USA. He designed the Toward Housing Disabled People Exhibition – a milestone in accessibility awareness. Elected a fellow of the RIBA in 1964, he was awarded the OBE in 1976 for his services to accessibility. Buildings he made accessible for disabled people include Park House in Sandringham, Somerset House, the Royal Albert Hall and the Houses of Parliament. Wycliffe was more than ‘a drummer’ he was the quintessential Salvationist: faith and works.