Eric Forster, architect behind Preston bus station and Fleetwood's RNLI lifeboat station, dies at 84

The architect behind some of the most memorable buildings in Lancashire has died.

Monday, 6th January 2020, 11:45 am
Updated Monday, 6th January 2020, 3:50 pm

Eric Forster, who helped design Preston’s bus station and was the man behind Fleetwood’s lifeboat base, was 84.

He was diagnosed with prostate cancer 17 years ago, and died on Sunday, December 29 at The Hamptons Care Centre in St Annes, after the disease spread to his bones.

His step-daughter Caterina Tedeschi, 57, said: “He was in many ways a reserved man, but when he was doing the things he liked with the people he liked, he was not reserved at all. He was quite shy but he enjoyed doing lots of things.”

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The late architect Eric Forster with a model of the proposed new clubhouse for Blackpool and Fleetwood Yacht Club, which he took to the existing club HQ for local councillors to see in 1998. From L-R: Coun Jim Lawrenson, Mr Forster, Coun Bernard Ryder, Coun Richard Anyon, club commodore Ken Hollands, and Coun Jean Black (Picture: Rob Lock for JPIMedia)

Born on January 13, 1935 in Wakefield, Yorkshire, Eric was raised in Carleton and attended Baines Grammar School in Poulton.

He studied architecture at Manchester University before going on to work at the Building Design Partnership in Preston, which designed the city’s now-50-year-old Brutalist bus station.

Eric took early retirement but carried on working for himself until as recently as six months ago, designing houses and factories, as well as the RNLI’s Fleetwood lifeboat station, which opened in 2006 and flew its flag at half-mast today.

The Coastguard is also based there, with station manager Mark Sumner, who helped with the design, saying he was saddened by the death of Eric, who "got things right".

Mr Forster's drawings of the RNLI's lifeboat station in Fleetwood from before it was built

A keen yachtsman, Eric also redesigned the Blackpool and Fleetwood Yacht Club’s clubhouse, where he was commodore in 1980/81 and president from 2014 to 2017, at Skippool Creek.

Former commodore Chris Haworth, who was Eric's friend for over 40 years, said Eric "did a lot for the club" and won the tough Scottish Series contest two years running in the 1980s.

Members will remember him "with affection", Mr Haworth said, adding: "He certainly had a wry sense of humour."

Eric also loved red wine and car racing.

From L-R: Arnold Fitton, Margaret Whitehead, Eric Forster, Jackie Heap and Rob Crompton, at the Blackpool and Fleetwood Yacht Club's annual dinner, held at the North Euston Hotel in Fleetwood, in late 2003 (Picture: Martin Bostock for JPIMedia)

He was the widower of former Gazette women’s editor Jackie Heap, who died at the age of 73 in 2012 after a short illness.

Jackie, who wrote under her maiden name, worked for the paper for almost 40 years, retiring in 1994.

She and Eric were married for 41 years and shared a joint love of Italy and travelling. They lived together in Thornton in a home Eric designed.

As well as Caterina, Eric was also survived by his daughter Helen Forster, sister Sylvia Urquhart, grandsons Edward Forster, 27, and Jack Cushway, 15, and his son-in-law Mark Cushway.

Preston bus station, pictured in the early 1970s (Picture: Miss Amridding)

His funeral will be held at Carleton Crematorium at 2.45pm on Monday, January 20, followed by a wake at the yacht club in Wyre Road.

Donations in lieu of flowers may be made to Macmillan Cancer Support, c/o D. Hollowell and Sons, The Willows, 57 Fleetwood Road North, Thornton, FY5 4AB, (01253) 859159.