Archiver > WORLD-OBITS > 2007-01 > 1169383953

From: "Peter McCrae" <>
Subject: [W-OBITS] KENRICK: Bruce
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 2007 04:52:33 -0800

The Rev Bruce Kenrick
Last Updated: 2:25am GMT 19/01/2007

The Reverend Bruce Kenrick, who died on Monday aged 86, established the
Notting Hill Housing Trust (NHHT) in 1963 after becoming appalled by the
"damnable housing conditions" in the area; his work with the trust later
inspired him to found the housing charity Shelter.

The Notting Hill of the early 1960s was far removed from the glitzy,
affluent image promoted by the eponymous film. Instead it was a drab,
rundown corner of North Kensington, synonymous with race riots and notorious
for the activities of the infamous slum landlord Peter Rachman.

Much of the area was populated by people - many of them poor immigrants from
the Caribbean - who were forced to live in decaying, overcrowded

A survey in 1967 found that population density in the area was twice that of
the borough of Kensington as a whole, and one of the highest in London;
nearly half of all children lived in overcrowded conditions and 70 per cent
of households shared, or had no access to, bath or shower.

"What struck me painfully about Notting Hill," Kenrick wrote, "was the
extent to which people's problems stemmed from damnable housing conditions."

Kenrick brought together a group of volunteers which sought charitable
donations to buy large dilapidated properties in order to renovate them and
rent them to people in need.

An emotive advertising campaign showed photographs of a family of six
sharing a single room under the headline "Heartbreak Notting Hill and You".

Within the first year the trust had bought five properties and rehoused 57
people. Within five years it had rehoused 1,000 people and become a major
force for improvement in the area.

The trust developed a reputation as a leader in social housing and inspired
a "new wave" of charitable associations providing social housing in inner
city areas.

In 1966 Kenrick launched Shelter as a national campaigning body for housing.
The organisation was given a tremendous boost in its first days by the
public outcry over homelessness provoked by the film Cathy Come Home which,
entirely by coincidence, was broadcast by the BBC at exactly the time that
Shelter began its campaign.

The following year Kenrick was instrumental in persuading the Labour
government of Harold Wilson to introduce legislation to provide funding for
housing associations to enable them to buy and renovate run-down properties,
as well as for a rent rebate scheme for poorer tenants.

The son of an accountant, Bruce Kenrick was born at Aintree, Liverpool, on
January 18 1920 and educated at Merchant Taylors' School in Liverpool.

He was expected to join the family accountancy firm but, after service
during the Second World War, first with the Gold Coast Defence Force and
later with a parachute regiment in Italy, he decided to train as a doctor
and went up to Edinburgh University to study Medicine.

In the course of his studies he felt called by God to enter the ministry and
switched to Theology. After ordination as a Presbyterian minister, he
pursued his studies in America at the Princeton Theological Seminary.

At the same time he joined the ministry of the East Harlem Protestant Parish
(EHPP), an ecumenical ministry established in 1948 in response to widespread
concern about the failure of the churches in America to remain in inner-city
areas and promote a Christian response to rising racial tensions.

The EHPP became a flagship for Protestant urban ministries on both sides of
the Atlantic, and Kenrick's account of the EHPP experience, Come Out the
Wilderness (1962), inspired many young clergy to commit themselves to
inner-city ministry.

In the late 1950s Kenrick served as a missionary in Calcutta, but contracted
typhoid and had to return to Britain. He became a member of the Iona
community and in 1962 he moved to Notting Hill as a member of an ecumenical
group ministry modelled on the EHPP.

Kenrick continued in Notting Hill until 1980, when he was appointed as a
minister in the United Reformed Church in Bayswater. He moved to another
ministry in Hackney before retiring to Iona.

His other publications include The New Humanity (1956) and A Man from the
Interior (1980), written after a visit to Cuba, in which he argued that
Communism and Christianity could co-exist.

Kenrick combined a deep sense of social responsibility with enormous
physical bravery and a great zest for life. He played the banjo and enjoyed
parachute jumping and white-water canoeing.

He married, in 1954, Isabel Witte, who survives him with their son and three

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