Thomas Worthington (architect)

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Memorial Hall, Manchester. Built 1863. Grade II* Memorial Hall, Albert Square 2.JPG
Memorial Hall, Manchester. Built 1863. Grade II*
Ellen Wilkinson High School. Built 1880. Grade II* Nicholls Hospital - - 1221637.jpg
Ellen Wilkinson High School. Built 1880. Grade II*
Ullet Road Unitarian Church, Liverpool. Built 1899. Grade I. Ullet Road Unitarian Church 2019.jpg
Ullet Road Unitarian Church, Liverpool. Built 1899. Grade I.

Thomas Worthington (11 April 1826 – 9 November 1909) was a 19th-century English architect, particularly associated with public buildings in and around Manchester. Worthington's preferred style was the Gothic Revival.

Architect Person trained to plan and design buildings, and oversee their construction

An architect is a person who plans, designs and reviews the construction of buildings. To practice architecture means to provide services in connection with the design of buildings and the space within the site surrounding the buildings that have human occupancy or use as their principal purpose. Etymologically, architect derives from the Latin architectus, which derives from the Greek, i.e., chief builder.

Manchester City and metropolitan borough in England

Manchester is a major city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England, with a population of 545,500 as of 2017. It lies within the United Kingdom's second-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.7 million, and third-most populous metropolitan area, with a population of 3.3 million. It is fringed by the Cheshire Plain to the south, the Pennines to the north and east, and an arc of towns with which it forms a continuous conurbation. The local authority for the city is Manchester City Council.

Gothic Revival architecture Architectural movement

Gothic Revival is an architectural movement popular in the Western world that began in the late 1740s in England. Its momentum grew in the early 19th century, when increasingly serious and learned admirers of neo-Gothic styles sought to revive medieval Gothic architecture, in contrast to the neoclassical styles prevalent at the time. Gothic Revival draws features from the original Gothic style, including decorative patterns, finials, lancet windows, hood moulds and label stops.


Early life

Worthington was born in Crescent Parade, Crescent, Salford, Lancashire, on 11 April 1826. He was the fourth of six sons of a Salford Unitarian cotton merchant, also called Thomas, and his second wife Susanna (1792–1869). He left school, aged 14, and was articled to Henry Bowman, architect (Bowman & Crowther). [1] Before he was twenty he had won two medals: one for a church design (Royal Society of Arts) and one for an essay on "Brick" (Royal Institute of British Architects). [2] After completing his articles in 1847, he assisted William Tite who was building Carlisle railway station. On the suspension of this work in 1848, he went on an eight-month study tour to France, Italy and Switzerland accompanied by a friend, Henry A. Darbishire. [3] Their journey took them through Tuscany, Latium and Campania; Worthington's notes and sketches from the trip provided him with a first-hand knowledge of Italian Gothic and Renaissance architecture, which give him inspiration for his own later work. [2] [4]

A6 road (England) north-south road in England

The A6 is one of the main historic north–south roads in England. It currently runs from Luton in Bedfordshire to Carlisle in Cumbria, although it formerly started at a junction with the A1 at Barnet. It is the fourth longest numbered road in Britain, behind only the A1, A38 and A30.

Lancashire County of England

Lancashire is a ceremonial county in North West England. The administrative centre is Preston. The county has a population of 1,449,300 and an area of 1,189 square miles (3,080 km2). People from Lancashire are known as Lancastrians.

Unitarianism is a Christian theological movement named for its belief that the God in Christianity is one person, as opposed to the Trinity which in many other branches of Christianity defines God as three persons in one being: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Unitarian Christians, therefore, believe that Jesus was inspired by God in his moral teachings, and he is a savior, but he was not a deity or God incarnate. As is typical of dissenters, Unitarianism does not constitute one single Christian denomination, but rather refers to a collection of both extant and extinct Christian groups, whether historically related to each other or not, which share a common theological concept of the oneness nature of God.

After returning to Manchester in October 1848, Worthington spent a short time gaining experience of quantity surveying, before opening his own architectural practice in King Street the following year. [4]

A quantity surveyor (QS) is a construction industry professional with expert knowledge on construction costs and contracts. They are not to be confused with land surveyors or building surveyors.

King Street, Manchester road in Manchester city center, England

King Street is one of the most important thoroughfares of Manchester city centre, England. Formerly the centre of the north-west banking industry it has become progressively dominated by expensive shops.

Social concerns

Worthington was strongly influenced by his Unitarian upbringing, becoming committed to social reform and joining numerous learned societies, including the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, the Portico Library and the Royal Manchester Institution.

The Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society, popularly known as the Lit & Phil, is a learned society in Manchester, England.

Royal Manchester Institution

The Royal Manchester Institution (RMI) was an English learned society founded on 1 October 1823 at a public meeting held in the Exchange Room by Manchester merchants, local artists and others keen to dispel the image of Manchester as a city lacking in culture and taste.

Partly as a result of his social concerns, Worthington was often commissioned to design public buildings, ranging from public baths and hospitals to workhouses and Unitarian churches. These were often designed in a Gothic style, not dissimilar to that of his contemporary and rival Alfred Waterhouse.

Hospital health care institution

A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment with specialized medical and nursing staff and medical equipment. The best-known type of hospital is the general hospital, which typically has an emergency department to treat urgent health problems ranging from fire and accident victims to a sudden illness. A district hospital typically is the major health care facility in its region, with many beds for intensive care and additional beds for patients who need long-term care. Specialized hospitals include trauma centers, rehabilitation hospitals, children's hospitals, seniors' (geriatric) hospitals, and hospitals for dealing with specific medical needs such as psychiatric treatment and certain disease categories. Specialized hospitals can help reduce health care costs compared to general hospitals. Hospitals are classified as general, specialty, or government depending on the sources of income received.

Workhouse place where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment

In England and Wales, a workhouse was a total institution where those unable to support themselves were offered accommodation and employment. The earliest known use of the term workhouse is from 1631, in an account by the mayor of Abingdon reporting that "wee haue erected wthn our borough a workehouse to sett poore people to worke".

Gothic architecture Style of architecture

Gothic architecture is a style that flourished in Europe during the High and Late Middle Ages. It evolved from Romanesque architecture and was succeeded by Renaissance architecture. Originating in 12th-century France, it was widely used, especially for cathedrals and churches, until the 16th century.

Projects in Manchester and district

Estate Exchange

The Estate Exchange at 46 Fountain Street, Manchester, England, is a Victorian office block by Thomas Worthington. It was built as Overseers' and Churchwardens' Offices in 1852, with the top two floors being added in 1858. It is a Grade II* listed building as of 3 October 1974.

A churchwarden is a lay official in a parish or congregation of the Anglican Communion, usually working as a part-time volunteer. Holders of these positions are ex officio members of the parish board, usually called a vestry, parochial church council, or in the case of a Cathedral parish the chapter.

Greengate, Salford human settlement in United Kingdom

Greengate is an area of Manchester city centre which is geographically located within Salford, Greater Manchester, England. It is bounded by the River Irwell, Victoria Bridge Street and Chapel Street, Blackfriars Road and Trinity Way. Greengate is the original historic core of Salford and sits within the easternmost part of the City of Salford. Greengate is currently experiencing a period of intensive development activity and growth, benefiting from its location just across the River Irwell from the City of Manchester.

Other projects


His sons also trained as architects and worked in the family firm, Thomas Worthington & Sons. Hubert, later Sir Hubert Worthington (1886–1963) trained with Sir Edwin Lutyens and was professor of architecture at the Royal College of Art before becoming Slade lecturer in architecture at Oxford University. Percy Worthington (1864–1939), also worked for the firm. [4]

Thomas Worthington lies buried at the churchyard of the Victorian gothic Brookfield Unitarian Church, Gorton, Manchester.

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  1. Some of his drawings appeared in Bowman and Crowther's Churches of the Middle Ages; Stewart, Cecil (1956) The Stones of Manchester. London: Edward Arnold; pp. 80-87
  2. 1 2 Stewart (1956); pp. 80-87
  3. Darbishire was another pupil of Bowman & Crowther, and later designed the Columbia Market in Bethnal Green.
  4. 1 2 3 Archer, John H. G. (2004), "Worthington family (per. 1849–1963)", Dictionary of National Biography , Oxford University Press, retrieved 2009-10-18
  5. The Memorial Hall does not commemorate Prince Albert but the constitutional changes of 1662 when the reform of the Church of England under the Commonwealth was undone. For most of its existence it was a base for many local organizations and a venue for meetings.