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Clive Birch


  • Editor at 24, novelist and historian, gold medallist, publisher and City Liveryman, Clive Birch has worked in national media, in bus development and safety design, edited, designed and produced some 700 books, and created a museum. Senior Past Master of the Carmen of London, he founded the Carman Research Readership at the RCA, helped develop the Urban Flow concept, and is described as ‘passionate’ and ‘tireless’ about his work with students.

  • Biography

  • Clive Birch first came to the RCA in 2001, was welcomed as a Visiting Lecturer in 2002 and in 2004 was appointed Carman Visiting Tutor. In 2006 he created the first Vehicle Design yearbook, and in 2007 became Urban Flow pathway leader.

    In 2007 he was also appointed to represent the Worshipful Company of Carmen on the Court of the RCA.

    Born into transport (his family pioneered stage and mail routes, London cabs and buses from 1796 – 1972), after early success in journalism he worked in vehicle development, before returning to media management and eventual board appointments within the Thomson Organisation. In 1974 he formed his own publishing company.

    In 1984 he founded a heritage charity, and created a museum and information centre.

    Senior officer of the Worshipful Company of Carmen, he was awarded the Princess Royal Gold Medal in 2008. He has served as trustee of a social housing association since 2002.

    His service to heritage, education and communications is reflected in his election as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in 1980 and of the Society of Antiquaries of London in 1981. He was made a Chevalier of a French guild in 1991 and appointed MBE in 2000.

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  • Practice

  • He is the author of 23 books of record, including Carr and Carman, a history of London’s transport and its guild, The Freedom – London’s City and guilds, and On the Move, about the haulage industry; his first novel, A Decent Man, set in World War II, was published in 2006.

    He has provided articles for Focus (Chartered Institute of Logistics), Public Transport International (Union International des Transports Publics) and Vintage Roadscene.

    He also lectures on London's development, governance and transport at Boston University's London School.

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    • External collaborations

    • A London Transport Museum stakeholder, he instigated the dedicated RCA display case in the Museum Futures Gallery for post-graduate work, plus a joint RCA/Museum event programme, including design lectures, mobility forum and an RCA/Museum exhibition partnership, exploring IT impact on urban work and movement.

      He has worked with Intel and Corus on senior citizens’ rural mobility; Kia on automotive artwork; Bombardier and First plc on volume transport; Greater London Hire on door-to-door delivery; Volkswagen on accessorised interiors; and with Daihatsu and Suzuki on compact urban cars.

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    Selected work


    Research interests

    Current and recent research

    Clive Birch instigated the original Carman Research Fellowship, which supported Vehicle Design initiatives, and the current Carman Research Readership, proposing and mentoring the creation of a permanent and cumulative research archive for automotive design within the RCA.

    For SmartPods urgent healthcare in the community funded by the EPSRC, Clive Birch designed and supervised the Autocare project concept, facilitating parallel civil and military research for SmartPods.

    Clive Birch is also an RCA research publication adviser.