Basic Biographical Details

Name: Desmond William Hill Hodges
Designation: Architect
Born: 25 September 1928
Died: 26 November 2012
Bio Notes: Desmond William Hill Hodges was born on 25 September 1928 in Dublin. His early years were spent in the Republic of Ireland, where his father was a clergyman (as was his grandfather) and head of a college. After his father was appointed Bishop of Limerick he was sent as a boarder to St Columba's Rathfarnham. He briefly studied history at Trinity College Dublin but was invited by a friend of his father, who was architect for the same college, to work in his Dublin-based practice, McDonnell & Dixon, as junior assistant, despite his having had no prior training. It was a small team of six assistant architects and three partners. While there, Hodges studied at the Bolton Street Technical College. He was elected ARIBA in 1966.

Among their other work, The McDonnell & Dixon practice worked on the restoration of 18th century public buildings. He remained with the firm for 12 years but there was an economic slump in the Republic of Ireland, so Hodges moved to Belfast, where prospects were brighter. There, he found work for a more commercial firm, at double his previous salary. He subsequently moved on to another firm where the work was more varied, including government buildings and factories.

He eventually went into independent practice with a fellow architect, with an office next door to that of Ian Campbell, whose work he admired. He set up home with his wife Margaret (they married in 1965) with his home above the office. Having designed a church for a Belfast suburb, he became consultant to the works of the Methodist Church in Ireland.

In 1972 he purchased an issue of 'The Scotsman' and saw an job advertisement for a person to run Edinburgh's newly established New Town Conservation Committee. He applied for and was successful in securing this post as director, having already had some experience assisting setting up the Ulster Architectural Heritage Society. Consequently he moved to Edinburgh to join the Committee in the same year, initially renting before moving to the Victorian suburbs. The Committee was initially based in an attic office in Dublin Street, belonging to Law & Dunbar Nasmith, but subsequently moved to Dundas Street. It staff of six included a blacksmith, a knowledge of cast iron being crucial for New Town conservation projects.

Hodges had considerable diplomatic skills which he used to good effect in his post, using 'charm and hospitality to disarm the opposition. The first completed project of the Committee was at 23 Fettes Row and was unveiled by the Queen Mother in 1975. In due course Hodges oversaw a total of 1,233 repair projects between his appointment as directory of the Committee and his retirement in 1994. Under his guidance the important manual 'Care and Conservation of Georgian House' was brought to press, the guidelines in which are still used today [2012]. He was also instrumental in setting up an architectural salvage yard called 'Scotland Yard'. The success of the ENTCC led to a Europa Nostra silver medal in 1988 and laid the foundations for World Heritage Site status of Edinburgh's Old and New Towns in 1995.

Hodges also sat on the Cockburn Association for a number of years, as well as engaging in teaching, including lecturing at Queen's University in Belfast. He was made OBE, FRIAS, FSA Scot, and is an Honorary Fellow of the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland.

The Hodges lived in Shandon and Desmond advised the Merchiston Community Council on many projects. He was also involved with the Edinburgh Canal Society. He also served on the Vestry of St John's Episcopal Church, Princes Street.

Hodges died in Haddington on 26 November 2012. He is survived by his wife Margaret and their two daughters and four grandchildren.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3Belfast, Northern IrelandPrivate/business Before 1972 
Item 2 of 351, Malone Road, Belfast, Northern IrelandPrivate1970 *  
Item 3 of 3Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business1972  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1McDonnell & Dixon Before 1972Junior Assistant 

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 2Before 1972Church of the Annunciation  BelfastNorthern Ireland 
Item 2 of 2Before 1972St Dorothea's Church  BelfastNorthern Ireland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3RIBA1970RIBA Directory 1970   
Item 2 of 3RIBA1979Directory of members   
Item 3 of 3RIBA1984RIBA Directory of members   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Scotsman8 December 2012   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Courtesy of Desmond HodgesInterview of Desmond Hodges by Jessica Taylor, 29 January 2010 in Musselburgh