JANET GNOSSPELIUS 1926-2010
We were sorry to hear of the death of Janet Gnosspelius, who was a founder member - and former Hon.Treasurer - of the Gateacre Society. She died on 18th July at the age of 83. Janet, who was a qualified architect, devoted the latter part of her life to conservation and local history, mainly in the Woolton and Gateacre areas but also city-wide as a member of the Liverpool Heritage Bureau and the Historic Society of Lancashire & Cheshire.
Janet was raised in Coniston, in the Lake District, but her roots were in Liverpool. Her grandfather Adolf Gnosspelius, though born in Stockholm, worked as a stockbroker in Liverpool in the 1850s-80s, while her other grandfather W.G. Collingwood, who was John Ruskin's secretary at Brantwood, was Liverpool born. Her father Oscar was an aeronautical engineer and mining surveyor, and her mother Barbara was a sculptor. With that pedigree, it is perhaps not surprising that Janet chose architecture as a career, and Liverpool University as the place to study.
After graduating in 1948, Janet worked for about three years with Herbert J Rowse in the Martin's Bank Building, before moving back to the Lakes where she worked mainly on church restoration projects. Following the death of her parents, she returned to Liverpool in 1966 and settled in Hightor Road, Woolton. It wasn't long before the plight of Woolton Hall was brought to her attention, and she carried out a very detailed survey of the building's architecture and history which helped to fend off the threat of demolition. In 1972 she and others founded the Woolton Society to ensure that an eye was kept on other potential threats to the area's character and heritage. Later on, Janet was instrumental in founding not only the Gateacre Society (1974) but also the Wavertree Society (1977). She gave expert evidence at several public inquiries in Liverpool when demolition of historic buildings was being considered.
In Gateacre, Janet will be particularly remembered for the meticulously researched local history walks which she led in the 1970s and 80s, and for the waxing of the bronze bust of Queen Victoria which she personally carried out each spring. She was also responsible for designing the brown-and-white 'Gateacre' signs, including the stylised drawing of the Wilson Memorial Fountain which became the Gateacre Society's logo.
Janet resigned from the Society's Committee in 1994, in order to concentrate her energies on researching her own family history. She remained as a respected and valued source of advice, guidance and expert knowledge. We shall miss her.