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Tributes pour in for ‘legendary’ Sheppard Robson technician Warwick Small


Staff at Sheppard Robson have paid tribute to Warwick Small who passed away last week aged 63 following a stroke

Small – who worked at the Camden-based AJ100 studio as a technician for the past 28 years – was described as a ‘character’ and ‘legend’ by his former colleagues.

He was also praised for ‘supporting a vast number of successful projects’ by applying ‘excellent technical skills quietly in the background’.

Born in 1949 in Sydney, Small settled in London in the early 1980s and was credited with mentoring ‘generations of junior architects’ at Sheppard Robson.

His hobbies included reading and carving wooden sculptures. Small is survived by his brothers Lance, Carl, Garry and Wayne and his sisters Vena, Yonnie, and Sharon.

Sheppard Robson associate Eugene Sayers said: ‘Warwick had an irreverent streak and was a witty heckler, but he was also kind and generous with a strong sense of fairness. He will be missed by many.’

His funeral will take place at Lambeth Crematorium from 9:30am next Thursday (13 December).


Please send tributes to Anna FitzGerald of Sheppard Robson


Tributes to Warwick Small from colleagues

John Foat, former Sheppard Robson employee
I visited Warwick on Monday night and it seemed quite clear that this would be the unfortunate outcome. Very sad news but let’s face it, the baldy b*****d would have made a horribly cranky old man! He taught me so much and was a good friend. I will miss him very much.

Adrian Lee, former Sheppard Robson employee
Like so many others before and after me, Warwick looked after and guided me during my time at Sheppard Robson. We established a Thursday night ‘drinking club’ and even after I had left Sheppard Robson, we all still got together with Warwick as a central figure overseeing ‘proceedings’. With a wicked sense of humour and overwhelming generosity it was an honour to be part of his social circle. He came to my wedding and as you can see from the pictures he lit up the dance floor. As you would expect from Warwick he was the only one who heckled me during my speech! It’s such a sad loss and he will be missed but never forgotten.

Julia Bengsch, former Sheppard Robson employee
Oh Wazza, I still got your beautifully carved little ducks on my desk – just in front of me. All handmade. Since last week I can’t stop looking at them. All this memory and the fact that I will never see you again.  What a loss – I will miss you. I can still see your fingers moving over my details for the ERB project solving the questions I had. I can still hear your laughter, your voice. For a German your special humour was always a bit of a challenge but I got it after all. You looked after my plant when I left SR and London and kept writing me about how happy or sad it looked… now you are gone – but you will always stay with me!

May Poon, former Sheppard Robson employee
Warwick in heaven:
Warwick must be SO embarrassed with his sudden departure and inconveniencing his lodgers, and smiling with a naughty grin.
Warwick must be SO embarrassed with all the fuss and love poured at him, and smiling with an even naughtier grin.
Warwick must be SO pxxxed off for the early departure because he hasn’t put in the hot water heater in the house yet.
Warwick must be SO pxxxed off for the early departure because he hasn’t finished painting X’mas cards for friends and family yet.
Warwick must be SO glad that life was full of knowledge, life was full of wonders, life was full of art, life was full of adventure, life was full of love, life was full of friendship, and most of all, life was full of passion of them all.
Warwick must be SO glad that you were all in his life. I cannot detail waterproofing like him, cannot drink like him, cannot write like him, cannot paint like him, cannot sculpt like him, cannot seek life with such intensity like him, but I can love like him. Warwick, I love (I refuse to use past tense) you more than you’ll ever know.
We will meet again, but make sure you tell me which heaven you are at. Please try not to redesign heaven and take down all the walls and not put them back up. Oh, and make sure you have heating and hot water put back in before I get there.

Phyllis Agam, former Sheppard Robson employee
I was a long-time colleague of Warwick’s at SR back in the 90’s, and certainly remember him as a ‘character’. Alan’s story about the watch reminded me that in about 1995, we had been talking about coffee plungers (as one does?) and I must have mentioned that I didn’t own one. A few weeks later, out of the blue, Warwick presented me with a package - containing a real (note, not fake) Bodum plunger type coffee maker. I was really moved. In return, I brought him home a nargillah from my next trip to the Middle East. I am sure that Warwick will be sorely missed. Sorry to have missed the drinks at The Spread - but it’s a bit far from Melbourne. Best wishes to anyone who remembers me

Tori Jackson, Sheppard Robson employee
Warwick was such a special soul. His genuine, fun, warm, vivacious spirit was what made him so endearing. I will always remember fondly all of the cheeky jokes he used to come out with, the black hat that he loved to always wear, his mismatched dance floor moves (lol) and his smile. Warwick was always smiling. His sudden death is absolutely devastating and I will miss him very much. R.I.P Warwick

Claire Haywood, Sheppard Robson employee
I had the pleasure and fortune to work with Warwick on two projects, and sat next to him for about four years. In fact I recall that Mark Kowal eventually re-located one of us to another desk, as we kept distracting each other by swapping stories & laughing. Warwick was one of the first people I worked with at SR 15 years ago, and he taught me so much.

Everything from the finer points of door detailing, to what to look out for on-site when you’re snagging. He was exceptional at his job. But he always had the time & patience to help others with theirs.He was also a really good friend to me, like he was to so many others. And we enjoyed many a pizza on a Friday lunchtime at Parkway Pizzeria. He had an amazing memory and often asked me about things I had mentioned to him years previously………. including the ones I had forgotten. I will remember his as he always was; a big smile on his face and telling stories. He was unique and I will miss him greatly.

Rod McAllister, Sheppard Robson employee
When I started as a year-out student in 1984 I became aware of Warwick’s willingness to prick pomposity and lighten the atmosphere whenever possible. He described a milkshake I bought once as ‘Pink Poison’ – I never bought one again! Strangers often found him baffling. But those who knew him warmed to his courtesy, honesty and inappropriate but well-timed humour. He will be much missed. 

Mike Greatorex, Sheppard Robson employee
Always one with a rapier wit and a repartee to match. I shall always remember him sweeping up Parkway in his long black coat & Fedora. It always used to amuse him when I said ‘He looked like he had fell off a port bottle ……. Sandeman’s for the young! It was such very sad news that he didn’t survive his stroke but the fondness and moving tributes shown to him today by the people he worked with proves what a truly great man he was. He had a great life and will be missed by many.

David Alleyne, Sheppard Robson employee
Warwick would walk past my flat on the way to work and comment on my window flower boxes. He has mentioned the vibrant colours lights up the street from a distance. On occasions we would have a race to see who would get to work first. Warwick would never get the bus to the station he would walk every morning. Not sure how….but he would get in before me. You will be missed!

Alan Shingler, Sheppard Robson employee
In 1998 Warwick took me under his wing and taught me all I know about piling and basement waterproofing. After a few weeks at Sheppard Robson I was trusted to attend a client meeting under Warwick’s guidance. In this meeting we had 20 people in Stanhope’s board room to discuss the piling strategy for 59-67 Gresham St. When the meeting started we went round the table in the usual way to give your name and role.

I decided the best way for me to remember these names was to write down next to their name the type of watch they were wearing. As we were returning to the office I remarked to Warwick that I was surprised to see so many people in one room wearing a Rolex and that clearly architects were the poor relation. 13 years on in 2011 Warwick gave me with a present bought while he was on holiday. It was a replica Rolex watch and he continued to recount that meeting back in 1998. I thought this story is typical of Warwick, always thinking of others. Although I probably didn’t show it to him I was very fond of Warwick and I will miss his quirky humour.

Ian Rudolph, former Sheppard Robson employee
Message from Sorry to hear of this news - it must be a shock to all. He was such a vibrant and exciting character to be around and a pleasure to have known. The cooler definition of eccentric perhaps. One of the most interesting of the old guard at Sheppard Robson. Our thoughts are with all of you in Camden Town, and the rest of the Sheppard Robson Alumni.

Virginia Newman, former Sheppard Robson employee
I just did not put Warwick down as a person susceptible to a stroke. There but for the grace of God…It is so heart-warming to hear that SR was there through to the end. It was his family and a goodly part of his life, and reassuring to think that there were so many dear friends who cared for him. He was a wonderful, funny, strange, wild, mad, kind person who will leave a big hole. Please do let me know where/ when the funeral is. If I can get there I will.

Quentin Armstrong-Barr, Sheppard Robson employee
I will miss Warwick’s zaniness and eccentricity. Two things which jump out at me …. The Thursday night drinking club mentioned by James evolved into Warwick’s Thursday Ladies drinking club, I seem to recall…. just Warwick and his female fans from the office. He seemed to have a talent for attracting all the young ladies in particular. I remember him calling me and asking for a new Black and Red notebook … I gave him the usual choice of lined, no lines, or squares and he replied ‘lines’ and I said ‘I thought being a rebel you would want no lines’ and he said ‘I want the lines so I can avoid them’

Rob Burwell, former Sheppard Robson employee
He was a Legend, taught me more than any other lecturer.

James Flynn, Sheppard Robson employee
Warwick gave me his mark ups to do in CAD when I was a DC on site at Shire and Milton House (or as Warwick called it - Sh!t and Muck house) about 17 years ago .. helping me progress fantastically. We worked together on and off for a long time after that, and had a regular Thursday night pub club of current and former colleagues - we probably covered every pub in the city and west end over about 4 years.

We had drifted apart a little a few years ago - like you do - but only recently had gone to the spread for some drinks - just last week he lent me a book of poetry. He leaves behind many friends across the  country and the globe and he was a fantastic mentor to so many young people. My life is richer in many ways because of Warwick, and were all the poorer without him.

Bob Keenan, Sheppard Robson employee
I have been here as long as Warwick (longer, in fact). My memories are many and varied. The thing about him was that he connected with everyone. His humour was quirky but never hurtful. His knowledge of construction and building science was exemplary. He was adaptable and dependable. …and then there was the Hat. …and the fancy dress parties. When, in the mid-nineties, I was off sick for a couple of months, he sent me a hand written letter on six pieces of lined paper. It was a stream of consciousness - very funny and very uplifting … and perfectly timed. I wish that I could have done the same for him.


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Readers' comments (3)

  • I didn't know Warwick at all, but I now recognise him as the man who passed me in Sheppard Robson's reception area on my one and only visit, and whispered, "Don't do it.."

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  • I was very sad to hear about Warwick's untimely departure from this world.

    Warwick was a fellow attendee of yoga classes. He made me laugh with his cheeky jokes and 'dancing' during balance poses when we were supposed to be radiating stillness and strength.

    But apart from his joking around he was a friendly, sweet and kind person who made an effort to get to know you and be helpful. He even gave me tips on yoga poses though not the balancing postures.

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  • Holding onto a thought...
    He spoke with reason
    Questioned the unquestionable
    Misinterpreted for fun and leisurely enjoyed the ‘small things’ from his wide eyes crossing the globe
    His attention to detail shaped his curiosity and stories of humble creations
    A deeply proud and patient man his house now a shrine of his work
    Practically minded he let his soul run
    Over to origins, wondering into holdings to meet everyone
    He was my mentor and a real inspiration in architecture and life
    It was a pleasure to meet such a fine man who was forever young
    Thanks for your teachings, time and energy

    - Nyomi Rowsell, former Sheppard Robson employee

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