About Michael

Michael on his 80th Birthday
Michael as a boy


ERIC MICHAEL BOTTOMLEY

Born in 1927 in Muswell Hill, London. Died at High Lickbarrow on 14th January 2015

He attended Berkhamstead School in Hertfordshire.

Clearly Michael was a studious and serious child, quite shy and self-contained. He kept a collection of postcards amassed in his youth, to which friends and relatives would contribute. He also had albums of matchbox covers, collected for their bold graphics. Discovering his own artistic talents in his teenage years led to his lifelong passion for drawing and painting.

He was a student at Liverpool School of Architecture from the autumn of 1944 to the summer of 1949. He worked at Haigh Architects in Kendal in the summer vacations of 1947 and 1948, and permanently from the autumn of 1949 until he retired in 2007 at the age of eighty.

Di Haigh writes:

Michael was a dearly loved and specially esteemed person for our family. Having taken on a share of the architectural partnership after the death of our father Donald Haigh in 1953, he continued to run the practice with our mother until she retired in 1990. Roger then came to join him until Michael himself stepped down in 2007.

Window Sill in Michael's bedroom

'IT IS SAID THAT ALL ARCHITECTS ARE FRUSTRATED ARTISTS, BUT MICHAEL BOTTOMLEY MUST BE THE EXCEPTION TO THIS RULE, AS HE SEEMS BY BOTH THE STANDARDS OF QUALITY AND FECUNDITY TO HAVE BEEN A VERY FULFILLED ONE.'


I saw a lot of EMB in the office in my youth. As Mum was always at work, I often went into the office to do homework after school. Of course Michael was usually there too, so I probably associated him as much with that office milieu as with his home environment.

He was erudite and intellectual, full of information on topics that interested him. He loved exploring old buildings and the byways of England, a Pevsner volume in one hand and his sketchbook in the other. His frame of reference was focused, so that much contemporary architectural practice passed him by. Nevertheless, he was truly a mine of information and his trenchant opinions on topics that interested him were supported by his extensive library of books.

Socially, Michael was a private and even shy man — and often seemed awkward in company. Small talk or business networking was not his milieu, but he had many deep friendships honed over a lifetime. in congenial settings such as Kendal Art Society, The Romney Society or the Civic Trust, he was a regular contributor and a mainstay of each organisation. He found intellectual stimulation and fellowship amongst their members and through his extensive network of contacts and clients.

He was always an honoured guest at our house at 8 Oxenholme Road— Mum would make special meals for him and get the best tablecloth out (probably made of a slubby linen from Dorothy Word, Skipton). She always felt that he enjoyed expanding on the repetitive fare that he was served at home He celebrated special times with us like his birthdays.

With the assumption that there was nothing coming the other way, Michael drove fast around the Lake District lanes — and didn’t always manage to get out of the way in time. He pranged his vehicles on a regular basis and tried to hide this from Mum when he had to take it into the garage again to be straightened out.

Latterly Michael and l met up in London to go to exhibitions together — at the Tate or Royal Academy. He could manage a day return from Oxenholme, all timings minutely planned, including a nice lunch in the gallery cafe. He was also a regular on the Kendal Art Society trips to galleries to keep abreast of current shows.

We always wondered that he didn't want to travel abroad. We hatched plans to take him on holiday to Venice or for a quick trip to Paris, but he refused to go. How he would have loved it! But we did manage to take him with us on several holidays to Landmark Trust houses in England, which was much more his scene.

Latterly he found much in common with our extended family of architects. He was always pleased to see our children and their friends. and enjoyed entertaining them all to tea at High Lickbarrow.

Extract from High Lickbarrow Publication