Theatre group to celebrate life of pioneering Stevenage architect

Ray Gorbing dressed for The Mikado, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta

Ray Gorbing dressed for The Mikado, a Gilbert and Sullivan operetta - Credit: Archant

A PIONEERING architect, who led the team responsible for developing Stevenage New Town, will have his life celebrated at an event next month.

Ray Gorbing, who died in December last year at the age of 92, worked at the Stevenage Development Corporation on what was Britain’s first new town.

He led the team responsible for many planning firsts in the UK – a pedestrianised town centre, cycle tracks throughout the town, and neighbourhoods each with their own community centre and pub.

In 1962, Mr Gorbing teamed up with a fellow architect, Len Vincent, to form their own practice, Vincent and Gorbing.

Mr Gorbing designed the Gordon Craig Theatre, and he himself was a talented performer and was previously chairman and president of the Stevenage Lytton Players.

The current chairman of the group, Chris Hobbs, said: “Ray was our president for many years and was one of our biggest supporters.

“He was well-known for his roles on the stage and will be most fondly remembered for his passion for Music Hall and in particular one act that he made his own – On the Road to Mandalay.

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“He is sadly missed.”

Mr Gorbing also played prominent roles in the town’s tennis club, Rotary club, Round Table and Probus.

On Saturday, May 18, Mr Gorbing’s life will be celebrated at the Lytton Theatre in Stevenage, through words and music.

The story of his life will be told by various people who knew him, followed by refreshments and a concert by the Lytton Players of Mr Gorbing’s favourite music, which ranged from choral to Gilbert and Sullivan to musicals.

His daughter Sue said: “There are lots of people who knew him in lots of different guises, and we wanted to tell his story.”

She added: “We knew that many people wouldn’t be able to make the funeral and that dad would love to think he’s provided an opportunity for his family and friends to get together to sing.”

Asked how she will remember her father, Ms Gorbing said: “Lots of people talk about his sense of humour and his kindness. He was a very, very kind man, very thoughtful.”

The event, which will run from 3.30pm to 6pm, is open to all those who knew Mr Gorbing. Spaces are limited, so if you would like to attend, email

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