Roy Millward, who has died at the age of 98, was a member of Leicester University’s staff, during its rise from college status after the war into a fully independent degree awarding institution, followed by its subsequent rapid expansion.
Lecturer and Reader in geography from 1947 until he retired in 1982, Millward helped to create a well-equipped teaching and research department that saw numbers increase twelve-fold and the staff five-fold between 1950 and 1980.
He took a lifelong interest in travel, country walking, rail journeys, yoga, the theatre, film, opera, poetry, and the Quakers. He also had a phenomenal memory as well as an impish sense of humour.
During his long and distinguished academic career, he had 17 books published, 14 of them co-authored with Adrian Robinson, a colleague and friend who also worked for many years in the geography department. While Robinson’s input centred on natural physical features, Millward concentrated on the historical element of the landscape and is credited by Robinson for teaching him how to write succinctly and clearly.
Born into a family that ran a house building business, Millward’s fascination with geography was fired by a teacher, Ben Jackson, at the Central School in his home town of Macclesfield. Jackson once handed him an essay back with the comment: “Here you are Millward, you’d better have this. You know far more about it than I do.” He went on to obtain a double starred first at St Catharine’s College, Cambridge.
A lifelong pacifist – granted exemption from military service on this account – he applied for more than 90 jobs before becoming established in a job at St Lawrence College, a public school evacuated to Northamptonshire from Ramsgate. It was at the school he met his first wife, Charlotte, whose father was teaching there. Felix Behrend had been stripped by the Nazis of his position as a school head in Berlin and had fled to Britain.
After the war, Millward taught at Wigan Technical College before joining the then University College of Leicester in 1947. He proved to be an inspiring teacher, who particularly enjoyed leading field trips. He developed a keen interest in historical geography. The phrases ridge and furrow, deserted village and medieval fishpond were all part of his family’s lexicon.
His first book, Lancashire (published in 1955) was part of The Making of the English landscape series, edited by W.G. Hoskins. Millward regarded his second book, Scandinavian Lands (1964), which became the benchmark for an understanding of regional diversity in northern Europe, as his best book. Together with Adrian Robinson he went on to produce a further 14 works on the geography of Britain including the series Landscapes of Britain (1977) published by MacMillan and The Shell Book of the British Coast (1983). His final book was A History of Leicestershire and Rutland (1985).
Despite the intensive research needed for his publications, Millward still carried a heavy teaching load. After his first wife died of cancer in 1958, he married one of his former students, Helen Welsh, in 1960. Millward and his family were members of the Friends Meeting House in Leicester and in his eighties he was also the university’s Quaker chaplain for seven years. He had no fear of death and remarked once that he had had a good life and was “curious to see what it was like on the other side”.
He leaves his wife Helen, four children, nine grandchildren and two great grandchildren. Born May 12, 1917, died January 25, 2016.
by Tim Millward
Roy Millward -- Publications List
The Shell Book of the British Coast, Adrian Robinson, David & Charles, 1983
Upland Britain, Adrian Robinson, David & Charles, 1980
The Welsh Borders, Adrian Robinson, Eyre Methuen, 1978
Landscapes of North Wales, Adrian Robinson, David & Charles, 1978
Landscapes of Britain, Adrian Robinson, David & Charles, 1977
The Peak District, Adrian Robinson, Eyre Methuen, 1975
The Lake District, Adrian Robinson, Eyre Methuen, 1970, 1974 rev
South East England-the channel coastlands, Adrian Robinson, Macmillan, 1973
Cumbria, Adrian Robinson, Macmillan, 1972
South East England, Adrian Robinson, Macmillan, 1971
The West Midlands, Adrian Robinson, Macmillan, 1971
The South - West Peninsula, Adrian Robinson, Macmillan, 1971
The Welsh Marches, Adrian Robinson, Macmillan, 1971
Scandinavian Lands, Macmillan, 1964, 1966
Lancashire an illustrated essay on the history of the landscape, Hodder & Stoughton, 1955
A History of Leicestershire and Rutland -Darwen County History, Phillimore, 1985
Roy Millward - Editor / contributor
The Staffordshire Landscape, D M Palliser, Hodder & Stoughton, 1978
Roy Millward. Source credit: Tim Millward
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