Architects and Craftsmen of Wolverhampton's Buildings
ARKELL, Daniel. flourished about 1890.
Temple Row based architect responsible for many developments in
BANKS, Edward. Flourished from about 1842 to 1874. Banks was
a Wolverhampton architect of some renown, whose offices were in
Red Lion Street. Banks was a pupil of Charles Fowler
(1792–1867), one of the founder members of the R.I.B.A. In the
course of his career Banks changed the face of the town, for
amongst the building in the town to which he contributed were
the School of Art and Design, The Cattle Market, St. Matthew’s
Church (demolished), The Royal Hospital, Holy Trinity Church at
Heath Town, the Booking Hall and possibly High Level Station
(demolished). Banks was also responsible for Wolverhampton’s
original station which was at the top of Broad Street. Out of
town he was responsible for the rebuilding of Codsall Church
(and possibly the station) and the restoration of Bushbury
Church (where he also gave one of the stained glass windows) and
the Church of St. Paul at Coven. It was Banks who surveyed St.
Bartholemew’s in Upper Penn. Other churches for which Banks was
responsible include St. Milburger’s 1854/57 at Beckbury
and St. John’s at Stretton. Further afield, Banks designed All
Saint’s 1851/52 at Catfielf in Norfolk and St. Andrews at
Chinnor in Oxford.
also designed model dwellings and lodgings in Brickkiln Street
(1853). In town he was responsible for many shops and houses. He
designed the school built near to the church of St. Luke. He
even planned a campanile in the “style of Giotto” in John
Street. Edward Banks was a very prominent figure in the life of
the town, serving on the council and as a member of the Public
Works Committee. For a short period Banks was in partnership
with George Bidlake with whom he collaborated on St. Andrew’s in
1865/67 and St. Matthew’s in 1847/49, both in Wolverhampton.
Ernest. Flourished about 1868. Manchester architect. Designer of
the Town Hall. Also responsible for St. Martin’s at Castlemoor,
George. (1829/30-1892) Bidlake was a Wolverhampton architect who
lived at No 54 Waterloo Road, next to the Subscription Library.
His offices were in Darlington Street until his partnership with
Lovatt in April 1853. Bidlake designed the powerful Queen Street
Congregational Chapel (demolished). In a very different vein
from the Queen Street Chapel is the attractive church of St.
Jude 1867-9, on the Tettenhall Road. This church has a
particularly graceful spire, (added later by Fleeming) which can
best be viewed from a place that the architects would never have
dreamed, the top floor of the Wulfrun College. In autumn
especially the top of the church rides above a profusion of
multi-hued trees. Bidlake was also responsible for the Church of
St. Mary, Coseley, though the later chancel is by Fleeming.
Bidlake was one of the architects who submitted plans for the
new Town Hall, but those of E. Bates were accepted. His designs
for Bilston Town Hall (with Lovatt) were however accepted. Also
in the Wolverhampton area, Bidlake designed Tettenhall Towers,
now part of Tettenhall College, and the Congregational Church
Sedgley (with Lovatt). Holy Trinity Methodist Church in Compton
Road has recently been demolished; this is sad for the number of
Bidlake buildings is ever diminishing. Every so often there are
plans to demolish Bilston Town Hall. If this happens it would be
a severe loss as Bilston does not have a great deal of good
quality Victorian buildings.1
Bidlake also designed the Workhouse at Trysull of which little
remains, having been converted to industrial use. Out of the
area Bidlake was responsible for the Congregational Chapel at
Stone. Bidlake also wrote on architectural matters and in 1865
published “Sketches of Churches Designed for the Use of
Bidlake later moved to Leamington.
Richard Lockwood (c.1832-1905). This firm was responsible for the
Panels on the Art Gallery and the reredos in the church of S.S.
Mary and John. The firm of Boulton and Son had premises in
Charles Alfred (1829-1907). Chatwin was responsible for the Museum
and Art Gallery. Chatwin was a pupil of Sir Charles Barry,
architect of the Houses of Parliament. He was a local Birmingham
man and the founder of a dynasty of Birmingham architects.
Between 1864 and 1869 he was responsible for the refacing of St.
Philip’s Cathedral and later in 1883 remodelled part of the
inside. He was also mainly responsible for the rebuilding of St.
Martins in the Bull Ring. He also designed Lloyds bank in Queen
Square, Wolverhampton. He later worked with his son J.B.
Ewan (1814-1895). After being articled to M. Habershon, Christian
set up in practice in 1842. He was responsible for the sensitive
restoration of St. Peter’s Church in Wolverhampton. Whilst at
work on St. Peter’s, Christian was asked to survey the newly
completed Corn Exchange; his report points to a roof nearly in a
state of collapse. It was Christian who was called upon to
report on the poor state of nearby Lapley church. Christian was
both architect and architectural adviser to the Ecclesiastical
Commissions from 1850 and consulting architect to the Charity
Commissioners from collapse. It was Christian who was called
upon to report on the poor state of nearby 1887. His most famous
work was the National Portrait Gallery in London. He was
President of the R.I.B.A. from 1884-6. He was awarded the
R.I.B.A. Gold Medal in 1887. “His life was one of quiet
domestic happiness, and ceaseless labour, however, which he
supremely enjoyed, and which bought him a well-deserved reward
of wealth sufficient for his wants and his liberality of
reputation, honourable position, and the esteem of valued
EBBELS, Robert. Died 1860. A very
prolific artist of Trysull and Tettenhall Wood. Amongst the
local churches for which Ebbels was responsible can be included
Holy Trinity, Bilston in 1833/35, St. Peter's at Priorslee in
1831/37, also churches in Herefordshire, Coventry,
Carmarthanshire and Surrey.
Thomas Henry (1849-1935). A Wolverhampton architect whose offices
were at 102 Darlington Street. Fleeming’s most exuberant
building must surely be Barclays Bank in Queen Square. Fleeming
was also responsible for the Eye Infirmary in Chapel Ash. One of
Fleeming’s church commissions was the church of St. Barnabas on
the Wednesfield Road, 1892-3. This is a brick building with
lancet windows. It is now used by the New Testament Church of
God. Much of the brick work has been covered in rough cast.
Charles (1816/17?-1888). A Coventry architect, Hansom was the
architect of S.S. Mary and John. He also designed Clifton
College and Christ Church, both in Bristol.
(See under John Hardman & Company)
Henry T. (1860-1921). Hare was President of the R.I.B.A.
1917-1919. He designed Wolverhampton Library. Hare was an
outstanding and prolific architect and designer of large
buildings in a wide variety of styles. He was born in
Scarborough and studied in Paris. He ran his own practice from
1891 onwards. He also designed the County Buildings Stafford,
Oxford Town Hall and parts of Bangor University.
HARDMAN & COMPANY. Hardman & Co. of Birmingham are very much
a local firm (and one that is still in existence) and although
their glass is found throughout Britain and indeed the world,
fine examples are to be seen in the Midlands. The founder of the
firm, John Hardan (1811-1867) who originally produced
ecclesiastical metalwork, such as altar rails and screens. He
included stained glass in his output at the instigation of his
friend Pugin. Until 1849 Pugin designed all of Hardman & Co.’s
stained glass, indeed most of it was destined for churches
designed by him. After his death in 1852, his nephew, John
Hardman Powell (1828-1895) became chief designer. He originally
worked in the Gothic style favoured by his uncle, but eventually
he and his team of designers developed a more pictorial style.
The glass in S.S. Mary and John clearly illustrates this change.
The Hardman family were Roman Catholics and a great deal of the
firm’s output was for Roman Catholic churches, built in great
numbers after the Catholic Emancipation Act of 1829. S.S. Mary
and John was designed by the Roman Catholic architect Charles
Hansom in 1851 and extended by him in 1879-80. The Hardman glass
was gradually added after 1880. The first piece installed in
1880; it depicted the Crucifixion and was the work of F. Green,
one of a team of four designers led by J.H. Powell who were
working for the firm at this date. An example of Hardman and Co.
metalwork can be seen in St. Peter’s. It is a memorial brass to
Rev. Jeffcock, in the memorial arcade in the South Aisle.
KEMPE, Charles Eamer (1837-1907). Kempe designed stained
glass windows in St. Peter’s Church and those in the chapel of
the Royal School, Penn Road. There are also other examples of
his work at Wombourne and Pattingham. Kempe came from a wealthy
background and went to Oxford with the intention of entering the
church. A severe stammer prevented this; so Kempe, who was
deeply religious, turned instead to church decoration, producing
carvings and embroideries as well as over 3,000 windows, all in
elaborate High Church style. Kempe trained at the workshop of
Clayton and Bell, who at this time were producing stained glass
in a distinctive Gothic style with a preponderance of dark
colours, particularly deep blue backgrounds. Kempe’s own
lightness of touch could hardly be a greater contrast. Kempe set
up his own workshop in 1869. Kempe died in 1907, but his firm
continued under the direction of his cousin, Walter Tower, who
added his own “tower” badge to Kempe’s Wheatsheaf when signing
glass. The company, known after Kempe’s death as C.E. Kempe and
Co. Ltd., continued in production until 1934. There were also a
number of designers who were influenced by, or who produced
glass in direct imitation of Kempe. Chief amongst these was
Herbert Bryans (1855-1925) who did succeed in capturing
something of Kempe’s delicacy of design. (A good example of
Bryan’s work, signed with his greyhound emblem, can be seen in
St. Nicholas’ church, Codsall). Other imitators simply copied
the pale tones of Kempe glass, until by the mid-20th century the
genre had become merely washed out and colourless.
can be no better assessment of Kempe’s work than that of Lady
Mander: “Kempe’s work has a unique charm; its colours shine
out from jewels that cluster on the mitres or the crowns his
figures wear and from their peacock’s feathers, while angels
playing their instruments are drawn with tender delicacy and
scattered above the main windows informally but making a pattern
of precision. Above all, the prevailing yellow wash is literally
translucent, for it lets through the rays of the full or the
setting sun, less, one feels, to show the beauty of the
conception than ,in so intensely religious an artist, to bring
reassurance from a source of everlasting light.” 3
Arthur (1858-1915). Architect of Darlington Street Methodist
Chapel. Also responsible for the original Workhouse buildings at
Herbert. Herbert Minton provided tiles for the churches of St.
John and St. Luke. Minton began the successful manufacture of
tiles as Minton and Co. in 1840. A criticism at the time of
church tiles, was that they were too uniform, one critic said
that when laid they looked like linoleum. Minton avoided this by
not glazing the body of the tile but only painting over the
inlaid part with vitreous enamel. Minton also modified the
bright surfaces by random indentation and by darkening the inlay
so creating a more genuine looking medieval effect. When a
church ordered his tiles, Minton made a practice of making a
gift of the tiles to be placed east of the communion rail. In
the case of St. Luke’s the whole floor was the gift of Minton.
C.W. flourished between 1846-1850. Architect of St. Mark’s, Chapel
Ash. Orford also designed the church of St. Jude, Hill Street,
Birmingham. Pevsner says of the latter “obviously cheap
Gothic: plain everywhere, of brick with meager stone
dressing”. However the first vicar of St. Mark’s described
his new church as his “little cathedral” and there is no denying
that on close inspection the building does have its finer
points, especially the tower and spire. Orford was also
responsible for St. Jude’s 1849/51 and St. Luke’s 1850/51, both
in Birmingham. As can be seen from the dates when he flourished,
Orford had a very brief career.
Charles John. (1835-1897). Phipps specialised in the design of
theatres and was responsible for the Grand Theatre. He was also
responsible for the Theatre Royal, Nottingham; the Lyric Theatre
and Her Majesty’s Theatre, London.
George Thomas (1828-1897). A Wolverhampton architect who later
moved to Leamington. Architect and designer of the ill-fated
Exchange Building in Wolverhampton (possibly with his father
Richard). Robinson was also responsible for the church of St.
Luke, Upper Villiers Street, which is a riot of polychrome
brickwork. Pevsner describes him as a rogue architect and in
discussing one particular strange detail about St. Luke’s asks,
“Who in the name of reason would do that?”. Also
responsible for the Old Town Hall at Burslem. Robinson designed
the original public baths in the street of that name. Nearby
churches for which Robinson was responsible include Christ
Church, Gailey, although the chancel is by J. Fowler; also the
church of St. John, Bishops wood, which is a delight.
Sir Henry. The Post Office. Sir Henry Tanner was the Government
Architect and in his own day not very highly regarded as he was
thought to be lacking in artistic reputation. When the architect
John Bryden left unfinished the Government Buildings in
Parliament Square London, they were finished by Tanner. When the
new building was opened in 1908, the Architectural Review
commented “…the intrusion of another hand less inspired than
the original designer is plainly evident.” Tanner also
designed Post Offices in Birmingham (1891), Bury St Edmunds,
York, Bradford and Leeds as well as being responsible for the
Custom House Cardiff and the Serpentine Gallery and Oceanic
William (1804-1891). Carved the statue of Viscount Pelham, now
in West Park. Theed was born at nearby Trentham where his
father, also a sculptor, designed for Wedgwood. Theed was a
highly respected artist who was a pupil of Edward Hodges Bailey.
For twenty two years Theed worked and studied in Rome. He
exhibited at the Royal Academy and was responsible for carving
the "Africa" group on the Albert Memorial. He also sculpted a
bust of Prince Albert that formed part of the private collection
of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert.
Thomas (1815-1885). The Statue of Prince Albert, Queen Square.
Thorneycroft was one of the most eminent Victorian sculptors
whose most famous work is probably the statue of Boadicea on the
banks of the Thames. Thorneycroft cornered a fair share of the
market in Albertan memorabilia for he provided statues of the
Prince not only for Wolverhampton but for Halifax and Liverpool.
He was also responsible for the “Commerce” group on the Albert
Memorial. Thorneycroft was present at the unveiling but the
story that he committed suicide after seeing a fault in his work
VEALL, James Reade (c. 1824-1898). Wolverhampton architect
who did some restoration work on St. Peter's before Christian.
Veall was responsible for the official decoration of the town
for the Queen's visit and was also responsible for the design of
St. Michael and All Angels, Caldmore, Walsall.
William (1808-1881). Wailes designed the “Wellington” window in St
Peter’s. Originally a grocer who dabbled in art, Wailes decided
to try his hand at stained glass manufacture in 1838, beginning
with a kiln at the back of his shop. A hitherto undiscovered
talent surfaced and four years later he was collaborating with
A.W.N. Pugin. Wailes was Pugin's third collaborator for he had
quarrelled with the previous two, and they worked together for
only three years. The break with Pugin does not seem to have
hindered Wailes’ progress, since his output increased steadily
throughout the 1840s, and by the early 1850s he was employing 76
workers. Wailes was a businessman rather than a designer, but he
employed artists of a high caliber. One of whom was Joseph
Baguley (1834-1915) who worked for Wailes in the 1850s and later
set up his own firm, one of whose windows can be seen in the
church of St. John. In 1859, Wailes firm produced one of its
finest works, the West Window of Gloucester Cathedral. After
this, although styles in stained glass moved on, Wailes’ output
remained stuck in the Gothic style. He died a wealthy man
leaving his Gateshead home as a public park for the town.
AND HUGHES. The firm of Ward and Hughes spans the history of
Victorian stained glass from the Gothic revival to the Aesthetic
Movement. Despite having worked in so many styles, their windows
are easily recognisable since, unlike those of many artists,
they are always signed “Ward and Hughes, London” with the date
of manufacture. The partnership of Thomas Ward (1808-1870) and
Henry Hughes (1822-1883) began in the early 1850s. Thomas Ward
had been a stained glass designer for almost twenty years by
this time, in partnership with one J.H. Nixon. When Nixon
retired Henry Hughes, one of his pupils and a talented designer,
took his place. One of the new partnership’s earliest
commissions was to restore 14th century windows containing
pattered glass and make new windows for the church of St. Mary,
Bushbury. These can still be seen: the East and West windows.
These windows are not good illustrations of their work since
Ward and Hughes simply manufactured the windows to designs by
Charles Winston, the antiquarian, and various clergymen. After
Ward’s death in 1870 Hughes was free to run things as he wanted.
There was clearly a change of direction in the 1870s away from
the now stale Gothic style towards a style influenced by the
Aesthetic Movement. This can be seen in the two Ward and Hughes
windows in the church of St. John, Wolverhampton, which feature
figures dressed in Greek drapery. Henry Hughes died in 1883 and
the firm was taken over by a relative of his, Thomas Curtis.
Soon after, the firm’s output was signed “Curtis, London”. The
firm remained operational until the late 1920s, but most of the
company’s archives have been lost, so little is known about his
remarkable and enduring firm.
said which, there is the old Bilston College of Art an
absolute gem of a building with lovely terracotta medallion
reliefs of great artists. At the time of writing (2003) it
is boarded up and a sign warns the public to beware
because the building is unsafe. Beautiful and listed
buildings have a habit of becoming unsafe and have to be
demolished. They also have an extraordinary habit of
conveniently catching fire. See it now.
Anonymous, "Ewan Christian", 1896
Mander, "The Work of C.E. Kempe" Apollo Magazine, Feb. 1973