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Manners, Gerald (1932–2009), geographer, was born on 7 August 1932 at 1 St Luke's Terrace, Ferryhill, Cornforth, co. Durham, the son of George William Wilson Manners, accounts clerk, and his wife, Louisa Hannah, née Plumpton. At the time of his birth registration, his parents lived at 26 Lawson Terrace, Durham. The family moved south to Wallington, Surrey, and his secondary education was at Wallington county grammar school. In 1951 he entered St Catharine's College, Cambridge, where he was tutored by A. A. L. (Gus) Caesar, and graduated in 1954 with a first in geography. After a year at Indiana University following graduation he returned to the United Kingdom to do his national service in the education branch of the Royal Air Force. On completing two years' service, he was appointed tutor (subsequently assistant lecturer, then lecturer) in geography at University College, Swansea. In 1967 he was appointed to a readership at University College, London, being promoted to a chair in 1980, and becoming professor emeritus in 1997. He married Anne Sawyer in 1959 and they had two daughters and a son. Following the dissolution of that marriage in 1982 on 11 December that year he married Joyce Edith Roberta (Joy) Turner (b. 1942/3), an oil company executive, and daughter of Frank George Alan Turner, company director. They had one son.

Manners's training at Cambridge versed him in critical ability, logical power, and precision, enabling him to express ideas clearly and effectively. He had also joined the Footlights and his skill as a superb public speaker drew on that experience. At Swansea he developed an interest in resources and regional planning, which gave rise to The Geography of Energy (1964), which demonstrated the new analytic economic geography, and an edited collection, South Wales in the Sixties (1964), which explored a range of socio-economic issues. In 1964–5 he spent a year's leave of absence as visiting scholar at Resources for the Future Inc., in Washington, DC. His major work, The Changing World Market for Iron Ore (1971), demonstrated his thorough understanding of global commodity markets and inspired many economic geographers. His subsequent investigations focused on coal (Coal in Britain: an Uncertain Future, 1981), gas, oil, nuclear energy, and mineral reserves (Minerals and Men, 1974, with James F. McDivitt). During the 1970s he appeared against the National Coal Board in the Vale of Belvoir coalfield inquiry.

Following his appointment at University College, London, Manners taught economic geography, regional development in Great Britain, and the geography of the USA. He mentored a cluster of doctoral students specializing in the geography of resources. He also developed a second strand in his career as an adviser and consultant. He was a member of the Location of Offices Bureau (1970–80), to steer office work from the capital, and served on the South-East Economic Planning Council (1971–9), preparing evidence on such matters as the Greater London development plan, docklands development, London's airports, and the channel tunnel. That experience was recorded in Office Policy in Britain (1986, with Diana Morris), Spatial Problems of the British Economy (1971, edited with Michael Chisholm), and Regional Development in Britain (1972, with David Keeble, Brian Rodgers, and Kenneth Warren), the latter being essential reading for undergraduates. He was on the council of the Town and Country Planning Association (1980–89), and chaired the Regional Studies Association (1981–4). In 1981 his inaugural lecture on ‘Regional policies and the national interest’ was delivered at a pivotal moment since Margaret Thatcher and her ministers had abolished regional economic councils and their style of planning intervention. He was not defeated by the demise of economic planning and deployed his talents as a specialist adviser. He contributed to the preparation of several reports of the House of Commons select committee on energy (1980–92), the House of Lords select committee on sustainable development (1994–5), and the House of Commons environmental audit committee (1999–2001). Beyond parliament his expertise was sought by the Association for the Conservation of Energy, and the Electricity Association.

Both before and after retirement Manners developed a third career strand as a charitable trustee, in which he demonstrated his ability for reconciling opposing viewpoints and reaching sensible conclusions. He was a trustee of the City Parochial Foundation and Trust for London (1977–2007), chairing its estate committee from 1987 to 2001 and subsequently the whole trust from 1996 to 2004. He was a governor of the Sadler's Wells Foundation (1978–95), serving as chairman of the Theatre Board (1986–93). He stood up to several Arts Council chairmen and arts ministers to ensure the survival of the theatre in the face of funding cuts. He directed his skills to other institutions in the world of the arts and benefaction, including the Energy Action Grants Agency Charitable Trust, the Trust for London's Central Governing Body, the Association of Charitable Foundations (of which he was chairman from 2003 to 2007), English National Opera, and the Chelsea Physic Garden. In 2005 he was appointed OBE for services to charity. He died of cancer at the Royal Marsden Hospital, Chelsea, London, on 16 February 2009, being survived by his wife and his four children.

Hugh Clout


The Times (16 April 2009) · The Guardian (5 June 2009) · Regions, 274 (2009), 34 · Progress in Human Geography, np 1–4 (2009) [online only] · obit., www.rgs.org, accessed on 28 Nov 2011 · WW (2009) · personal knowledge (2013) · private information (2013) · b. cert. · m. cert. [1982] · d. cert.


obituary photographs

Wealth at death  

£134,587: probate, 14 Sept 2009, CGPLA Eng. & Wales