Thomas Simpson (architect)

Last updated
Thomas Simpson
Born1825
Scotland
Died1908
OccupationArchitect
PracticeThomas Simpson & Son
BuildingsDials Congregational Church, Brighton (demolished)
Projects Schools for Brighton and Preston School Board

Thomas Simpson (1825–1908) was a British architect associated with the seaside town of Brighton. As architect to the Brighton and Preston School Board and the equivalent institution in neighbouring Hove, he designed "a distinguished group of board schools" [1] during the late 19th century, when the provision of mass education was greatly extended. Many of these schools survive and some have listed status. He also worked on five Nonconformist chapels for various Christian denominations, using a wide variety of materials and architectural styles. He was the father of Sir John William Simpson and Gilbert Murray Simpson, who both became architects.

Brighton Seaside resort on the south coast of England

Brighton is a seaside resort in the county of East Sussex. It is a constituent part of the city of Brighton and Hove, created in 2001 from the formerly separate towns of Brighton and Hove. Brighton is located on the south coast of England, positioned 47 miles (76 km) south of London.

Listed building Protected historic structure in the United Kingdom

A listed building, or listed structure, is one that has been placed on one of the four statutory lists maintained by Historic England in England, Historic Environment Scotland in Scotland, Cadw in Wales, and the Northern Ireland Environment Agency in Northern Ireland.

Nonconformist Protestant Christians in Wales and England who did not follow the Church of England

In English church history, a Nonconformist was a Protestant who did not "conform" to the governance and usages of the established Church of England. Broad use of the term was precipitated after the Restoration of the British monarchy in 1660, when the Act of Uniformity 1662 re-established the opponents of reform within the Church of England. By the late 19th century the term specifically included the Reformed Christians, plus the Baptists and Methodists. The English Dissenters such as the Puritans who violated the Act of Uniformity 1559—typically by practising radical, sometimes separatist, dissent—were retrospectively labelled as Nonconformists.

Contents

Biography

A blue plaque commemorating Simpson was erected in Hove in 2015. Blue Plaque for Thomas Simpson, West Hove Infants School, Connaught Road, Hove (June 2017).jpg
A blue plaque commemorating Simpson was erected in Hove in 2015.

Simpson was born in 1825 [2] in Scotland, where he trained as an architect. [3] After travelling in Germany, he later moved to Brighton and he started his professional career articled to James Charnock Simpson, his uncle. [2] He married Clara Hart and had two sons: John William Simpson (born in 1858) [4] and Gilbert Murray Simpson (1869). [5] They both had long architectural careers: John, who designed public buildings and monuments across Britain, [4] was articled to his father in 1875, as was Gilbert in 1886. [5]

Articled clerk

An articled clerk is someone who is studying to be an accountant or a lawyer. In doing so, they are put under the supervision of someone already in the profession, now usually for two years these days, but previously three to five years was common. This can be compared as being an intern for a company. Trainees are obligated to sign a contract agreeing to the terms of being an articled clerk. The articled clerk signs a contract, known as "articles of clerkship", committing to a fixed period of employment. Wharton's Law Lexicon defines an articled clerk as "a pupil of a solicitor, who undertakes, by articles of clerkship, continuing covenants, mutually binding, to instruct him in the principles and practice of the profession". The contract is with a specific partner in the firm and not with the firm as a whole.

John William Simpson British architect

Sir John William Simpson KBE FRIBA was an English architect and President of the Royal Institute of British Architects from 1919 to 1921.

Gilbert Murray Simpsonfriba (1869–1954) was a British architect from Brighton who did most of his work in the seaside resort. In 1890 Simpson joined his father Thomas, architect to the Brighton and Preston School Board and the Hove School Board, and helped to design some of the "distinguished group of board schools" for those institutions during the late 19th century. He took over the firm of Thomas Simpson & Son when his father died in 1908, and went on to design several other institutional buildings in Brighton. His elder brother Sir John William Simpson was also an architect.

Early in his career, Simpson travelled around and studied in Germany—whose approach to mass education and the architecture of its buildings informed his later work on board schools—and later worked alongside Joseph Butler, an architect who specialised in churches. [2] At the time Butler was working in Chichester and was employed as surveyor to Chichester Cathedral. Simpson then became William Butterfield's assistant at his architectural firm in London. After another period working for his uncle, [2] he started his own architectural practice and by 1868 had his office at 16 Ship Street in The Lanes. [3] [6] He entered into a partnership with Henry Branch, [6] and later took on Gilbert as a full partner after he had served his apprenticeship (the practice was known as Thomas Simpson & Son from 1890.) [7]

Joseph Butler (architect)

Joseph Butler (1804–84), born in Parndon, Essex, was an architect, surveyor and builder. His specialist area was that of church buildings. He worked widely in Sussex, England.

Chichester Cathedral city in West Sussex, England

Chichester is a cathedral city in West Sussex, in South-East England. It is the only city in West Sussex and is its county town. It has a long history as a settlement from Roman times and was important in Anglo-Saxon times. It is the seat of the Church of England Diocese of Chichester, with a 12th-century cathedral.

Chichester Cathedral Church in West Sussex, United Kingdom

Chichester Cathedral, formally known as the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity, is the seat of the Anglican Bishop of Chichester. It is located in Chichester, in Sussex, United Kingdom. It was founded as a cathedral in 1075, when the seat of the bishop was moved from Selsey.

As well as his completed works on schools and chapels, Simpson was involved with one unexecuted scheme in Brighton. During the period he was in partnership with Henry Branch, they submitted the winning entry for the competition to design a clock tower for an important road junction in central Brighton. Nothing came of their 1881 scheme, though, and the Jubilee Clock Tower was eventually built to the design of a different architect, John Johnson, in 1888. [8] The Building News of 22 July 1881 published plans and a sketch of Simpson and Branch's proposal and gave a full description. Public toilets would have been placed beneath the main tower of the squat four-sided structure, which was to have been of Portland stone with some granite work. The clock stage of the tower would have been ironwork, and the upper section would have been copper-clad timber. The report also stated that Simpson's working address at the time was 63 High Street, Brighton. [9]

Clock Tower, Brighton tower in Brighton, England

The Clock Tower is a free-standing clock tower in the centre of Brighton, part of the English city of Brighton and Hove. Built in 1888 in commemoration of Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee, the distinctive structure included innovative structural features and became a landmark in the popular and fashionable seaside resort. The city's residents "retain a nostalgic affection" for it, even though opinion is sharply divided as to the tower's architectural merit. English Heritage has listed the clock tower at Grade II for its architectural and historical importance.

Portland stone Limestone quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset, England

Portland stone or Portland Stone Formation is a limestone formation from the Tithonian stage of the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. The quarries are cut in beds of white-grey limestone separated by chert beds. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major public buildings in London such as St Paul's Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. Portland stone is also exported to many countries—being used for example in the United Nations headquarters building in New York City.

Granite A common type of intrusive, felsic, igneous rock with granular structure

Granite is a common type of felsic intrusive igneous rock that is granular and phaneritic in texture. Granites can be predominantly white, pink, or gray in color, depending on their mineralogy. The word "granite" comes from the Latin granum, a grain, in reference to the coarse-grained structure of such a holocrystalline rock. Strictly speaking, granite is an igneous rock with between 20% and 60% quartz by volume, and at least 35% of the total feldspar consisting of alkali feldspar, although commonly the term "granite" is used to refer to a wider range of coarse-grained igneous rocks containing quartz and feldspar.

In September 2014, conservation group The Brighton Society applied for planning permission to erect a commemorative blue plaque on the Connaught Road School in Hove, one of Simpson's buildings. Hove Civic Society and the Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission were also involved in funding the plaque. [10] In April 2015 The Brighton Society announced the unveiling would take place later that month. [11]

Planning permission government permission required for construction or expansion

Planning permission or developmental approval refers to the approval needed for construction or expansion in some jurisdictions. It is usually given in the form of a building permit. Generally, the new construction must be inspected during construction and after completion to ensure compliance with national, regional, and local building codes. Planning is also dependent on the site's zone – for example, one cannot obtain permission to build a nightclub in an area where it is inappropriate such as a high-density suburb. Failure to obtain a permit can result in fines, penalties, and demolition of unauthorized construction if it cannot be made to meet code. House building permits, for example, are subject to local housing statutes. The criteria for planning permission are a part of urban planning and construction law, and are usually managed by town planners employed by local governments. Since building permits usually precede outlays for construction, employment, financing and furnishings, they are often used as a leading indicator for developments in other areas of the economy.

Blue plaque marker commemorating a link between a location and a person or event

A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place in the United Kingdom and elsewhere to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person, event, or former building on the site, serving as a historical marker. The term is used in the United Kingdom in two different senses. It may be used narrowly and specifically to refer to the "official" scheme administered by English Heritage, and currently restricted to sites within Greater London; or it may be used less formally to encompass a number of similar schemes administered by organisations throughout the UK.

Works

Schools

Elm Grove Board School at Elm Grove, Brighton (1893) Elm Grove Primary School, Elm Grove, Brighton (April 2013) (2).JPG
Elm Grove Board School at Elm Grove, Brighton (1893)

Thomas Simpson's main source of work for more than 30 years was the Brighton School Board (later the Brighton and Preston School Board) and its equivalent in neighbouring Hove. There was no nationally coordinated scheme of primary-level education until the Elementary Education Act 1870 was passed; this empowered local councils to form school boards with elected members and funded by rates. [12] Brighton's population was growing rapidly at the time, and many new schools were needed. Simpson was appointed architect and surveyor to the Brighton School Board in 1871 and held the same positions with the Hove School Board from 1876. His remit in Brighton was extended from 1878 when the borough's Board merged with that of the neighbouring parish of Preston to form the Brighton and Preston School Board. [7]

Preston Village is a suburban area of Brighton and Hove, East Sussex to the north of the centre. Originally a village in its own right, it was eventually absorbed into Brighton with the development of the farmland owned by the local Stanford family, officially becoming a parish of the town in 1928. Stanford-owned land to the south of Preston Manor was given to the town and now makes up Preston Park, one of the largest parks in the now conjoined city of Brighton and Hove. The park hosts some of the city's major public events such as Brighton Pride.

Hove Town on the south coast of England, part of city of Brighton & Hove

Hove is a seaside resort in the county of East Sussex. It is a constituent part of the city of Brighton and Hove, created in 2001 from the formerly separate towns of Hove and Brighton. Originally a "small but ancient fishing village" surrounded by farms, it grew rapidly in the 19th century in response to the development of its eastern neighbour Brighton, and by the Victorian era it was a fully developed town with borough status. Neighbouring parishes such as Aldrington and Hangleton were annexed in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In 1997, as part of local government reform, the borough merged with Brighton to form the Borough of Brighton and Hove, and this unitary authority was granted city status in 2000.

Elementary Education Act 1870 United Kingdom legislation

The Elementary Education Act 1870, commonly known as Forster's Education Act, set the framework for schooling of all children between the ages of 5 and 12 in England and Wales. It established local education authorities with defined powers, authorized public money to improve existing schools, and tried to frame conditions attached to this aid so as to earn the goodwill of managers. It was long been seen as a milestone in educational development, but recent commentators have stressed that it brought neither free nor compulsory education, and its importance has thus tended to be diminished rather than increased.

Simpson designed and built a series of "distinguished" board schools in a variety of styles between 1870 and 1903, some (from 1890) in partnership with his son Gilbert. [7] His other son John William Simpson may have been involved in some designs as well. [2] [13] Several have Grade II listed status: Finsbury Road Board School (1881) in Hanover, [14] Connaught Road School (1884) in Hove, [2] Ditchling Road Board School (1890), [15] Stanford Road School in Prestonville (1893) [16] and St Luke's School in Queen's Park (1900–03). [17] Also attributed to Simpson is the 1887 rebuild of the Central Infants School on Upper Gloucester Street in North Laine (opened as a National School in 1826 and now converted into flats). [18] His other surviving buildings, not all still in use as schools, are at Fairlight Place near Lewes Road (1870), Freshfield Place in Queen's Park (1880), Preston Road near Preston Park (1880) and Elm Grove (1893). Several other examples of his buildings have been demolished, [12] most recently at Circus Street in Carlton Hill (1883), demolished in 2017 as part of a major redevelopment scheme. Also designed by Simpson as part of the St Luke's School complex were a municipal swimming pool and a school caretaker's house, both of which are also Grade II-listed. [19] [20]

Religious buildings

Clarendon Mission (1885) Church of Christ the King, Clarendon Villas, Hove 01.JPG
Clarendon Mission (1885)

Simpson's earliest recorded commission was his work to redesign and extend the Ann Street chapel of the Countess of Huntingdon's Connexion in 1857. Later known as London Road Congregational Church, this building survived until 1974 but was demolished during urban renewal in that inner part of Brighton. [21] In 1861, he redesigned Salem Strict Baptist Chapel in Bond Street in the North Laine area of Brighton. This chapel for the Strict Baptist community dated from 1787. He rebuilt it in a style which combined Neoclassical and Italianate architecture and made use of stucco and flintwork. The building was also demolished in 1974, this time for commercial development. [22] Four years later, he designed the Belgrave Street Chapel for Congregationalists. This was an Early English Gothic Revival-style building with a stuccoed façade, placed on a corner site in the Hanover district of Brighton. After its closure in 1942 it became part of Brighton Technical College. [22]

His principal work for the Congregational church, and his largest ecclesiastical work, was the former Dials Congregational Church (demolished in 1972, but only redeveloped with sheltered housing in 1985). Its 150-foot (46 m) tower had a Rhenish helm and was an important landmark on its elevated site west of Brighton station. Inside, the church was laid out as an auditorium, with a vast u-shaped space. Simpson used the Romanesque Revival style for his design. [22] [23] [24]

Simpson was also commissioned to design a mission hall in Hove in 1885. The Clarendon Mission on Clarendon Villas was founded by William Taylor, who became its first pastor, and his friend William Willett. The work cost £4,700, but the building burnt down shortly after it opened and had to be rebuilt at an additional cost of £2,500. The adjacent Sunday school was added by a different architect. In the late 20th century, the founder of the Newfrontiers church Terry Virgo was minister at the church, which by then was called Clarendon Church. [25] The building is Renaissance Revival in style and has yellow and red brickwork with terracotta decoration. [26]

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References

Notes

  1. Antram & Morrice 2008 , p. 24.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Historic England. "Connaught Centre (former Connaught Road School), including carpenters' workshop, Connaught Road, Hove  (Grade II) (1393480)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  3. 1 2 "Thomas Simpson". Dictionary of Scottish Architects. 2014. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  4. 1 2 Allen, W.G. (2004). "Oxford DNB article: Simpson, Sir John William". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography . Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/36103 . Retrieved 24 February 2014.(subscription or UK public library membership required)
  5. 1 2 Brodie 2001 , p. 617.
  6. 1 2 Brodie 2001 , p. 619.
  7. 1 2 3 Antram & Pevsner 2013 , p. 196.
  8. Antram & Morrice 2008 , p. 162.
  9. "1881 – Proposed Clock Tower, Brighton, Sussex". Archiseek online magazine. Paul Clerkin t/a Irish-architecture.com. 1996–2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  10. James, Ben (1 October 2014). "Blue plaque will honour Victorian era architect". The Argus . Newsquest Media Group. Archived from the original on 1 October 2014. Retrieved 1 October 2014.
  11. Wadsworth, Jo (16 April 2015). "Blue plaque for architect who designed Brighton and Hove schools". Brighton & Hove News. Archived from the original on 17 April 2015. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  12. 1 2 Carder 1990 , §172.
  13. "1903 – Schools, Brighton, Sussex". Archiseek online magazine. Paul Clerkin t/a Irish-architecture.com. 1996–2012. Archived from the original on 25 February 2014. Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  14. Historic England. "Finsbury Road Board School, Finsbury Road (northwest side), The City of Brighton and Hove  (Grade II) (1380503)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  15. Historic England. "Downs Junior School and attached walls and gate piers, Rugby Road (north side), The City of Brighton and Hove  (Grade II) (1380839)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  16. Historic England. "Stanford County Junior School including walls, gate piers & railings, Stanford Road (west side), The City of Brighton and Hove  (Grade II) (1380839)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  17. Historic England. "St Luke's School, St Luke's Terrace (southwest side), The City of Brighton and Hove  (Grade II) (1380894)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  18. "Local List of Heritage Assets: U" (PDF). Brighton and Hove City Council. 2014. Archived from the original on 4 April 2016. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
  19. Historic England. "St Luke's Pool, St Luke's Terrace, The City of Brighton and Hove  (Grade II) (1380895)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  20. Historic England. "Caretaker's house, 10 St Luke's Terrace, The City of Brighton and Hove  (Grade II) (1380888)". National Heritage List for England . Retrieved 25 February 2014.
  21. Elleray 2004 , p. 12.
  22. 1 2 3 Elleray 2004 , p. 10.
  23. Antram & Morrice 2008 , p. 178.
  24. Collis 2010 , p. 74.
  25. Middleton 2002 , Vol. 3, pp. 63–64.
  26. Elleray 2004 , p. 35.

Bibliography

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