Sunday, 20 December 2009

John Gibson - The Man Who Created the Undershaw Preservation Trust

This is the official registration document for the Undershaw Preservation Trust; registering Undershaw as a museum and cafeteria.

The Trust has been registered and set up by it's director Mr John Gibson, FRICS.

Born in Oxford, England John was an outstanding athlete in his youth who voluntarily left school at an early age. He started an early career in banking and took formal examinations for university entrance in art, mathmatics and sciences. Following a short period of study, he followed his vocational interest with antiquarian books regarding literature and architecture/building.

He attended a three year course in the late 1960's in London, graduating in 1969. Subsequently John gained experience in property having worked on large Greater London Council Schemes which included the redevelopment of the Croydon Aerodrome, private landed London Estates, Oxford College property holdings, City Bank and Government Agency.

John prepared and took many hundreds of court cases, including a 100% success rate in the higher court which is reported in the legal textbooks. He owned a portfolio of property investments largely in London. He developed property and prepared and took planning appeals. Valued property as diverse as major theatres, marinas, farms, country houses, woodland, development land and shopping centres.

John retired in his mid 50's to devote time to his collections and other interests.

He is a great collector of books (100,000 volumes) and ephemera autograph material and interesting art, photographs and posters.

Following over a decade of research and the discovery of much unknown material and stories by Doyle -published as the author/editor (with Richard Lancelyn Green) "My Evening with Sherlock Holmes" (1981), "A Bibliography of Arthur Conan Doyle" (1984 - Oxford University Press) - long correspondence between Graham Greene/Gibson, who provided the Preface; a series of three books on "The Unknown Conan Doyle", "Essays on Photography", "Letters to the Press" and "The Uncollected Stories" (all published by Secker & Warburg, 1983/84).

He also produced and published privately an exact facsimile of the first Sherlock Holmes novel "A Study in Scarlet" in 1987 on its centenary - 50 copies of which were inscribed and signed by Jean Conan Doyle (the daughter of Arthur Conan Doyle). John also supplied an article and new information to the Sherlock Holmes Journal. Winner of the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1984 in the United States.

His interest in Doyle has taken him as far afield as Switzerland and California. He assisted Sotheby's, London and Pacific Book Auctions, San Francisco with Doyle collections.

John has known Undershaw for over forty years and involved the Victorian Society in the property from June 2006. Publicity against development given to national newspapers and national/international (including Russian public channel)television. Personally spoke at planning committee hearing in December 2006 where the previous redevelopment application was unanimously rejected by the Committee. John can be seen in this picture walking around the grounds of Undershaw keeping a careful eye on its developments.

Founded the Undershaw Preservation Trust in 2009 to help protect and preserve Undershaw as a single dwelling house. The Heritage Lottery Fund has indicated that it may match fund any money raised to save the historic house.

John is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors in three specialisations - Arts, Building and Valuation.


  1. Thank you Vanja. We appreciate your comment and thank you for looking over the blog.

  2. Hey guys
    Could somebody from the trust please contact me so i may discuss an idea with them.

    Many thanks


  3. Guy, we're sorry but have only just picked up your message. It is probably too late to contact you now. Please make contact again via our website if your idea is still viable.

  4. Is it possible to get contact with John Gibson? I am a student doing a project on Arthur Conan Doyle and need to interview someone who is connected in some way to Doyle. I was hoping he'd be able to give me insight on Conan Doyle and any way to get communication with Gibson would be fantastic.