Remembering our friend Emeritus Professor John Tarn

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The late Emeritus Professor John Nelson Tarn

The University of Liverpool was honoured to receive a gift in Will from the late Emeritus Professor John Tarn, who sadly passed away in November 2020 following a period of illness. Professor Tarn’s legacy gift will contribute to enhancing the student experience at the new Yoko Ono Lennon Centre which opened earlier this year. A seat has been dedicated in The Tung Auditorium to honour Professor Tarn's memory.

Driven by a passion for architecture, Professor Tarn attained a first-class honours Bachelor of Architecture (BArch) from Durham University in 1957, and in 1961 completed a PhD in Architectural History at the University of Cambridge.

Professor Tarn’s long association with Liverpool began in 1973 when he joined the University as Roscoe Professor of Architecture. During his time at Liverpool, he also served as Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Acting Vice-Chancellor, and his last formal role held was as Chairman of the Friends of the University (2001-2013) supporting fundraising for many student groups at the University. He is fondly remembered by all who knew him. 

Accolades received by the Professor included an OBE in 1992 for his services to architecture, and after his retirement in 1999, the University awarded him the title of Emeritus Professor and an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

Professor Tarn was a warm and caring man, who not only had a passion for architecture but for music also.  He was a very capable organist and choirmaster who founded and led the choir at St Giles Church in Great Longstone, in the Peak District – his beloved second home. He acted as choirmaster from 1977 until his death in 2020, a 43 year association that saw a small village choir boost in both numbers and capability, as a result of the dedication and enthusiasm shown by Professor Tarn.


A memorial to John at the new Yoko Ono Lennon Centre would be a perfect way of blending together his passion for architecture, music and the University.

Executor and friend to Professor Tarn, Mr A. Cumming.


Legacy gifts come in all different shapes and sizes - all are valued and celebrated. Every gift received has an amazing impact on the student experience at the University of Liverpool. If you would like to find out more about legacy giving, visit the legacies page or email Carolyn Jones, Legacy Officer at