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Historical records matching Alfred Waterhouse
About Alfred Waterhouse
Alfred Waterhouse (19 July 1830 – 22 August 1905) was a British architect, particularly associated with the Victorian Gothic Revival architecture. He is perhaps best known for his design for the Natural History Museum in London, and Manchester Town Hall, although he also built a wide variety of other buildings throughout the country. Financially speaking, Waterhouse was probably the most successful of all Victorian architects. Though expert within Neo-Gothic, Renaissance revival, and Romanesque revival styles, Waterhouse never limited himself to a single architectural style.
Waterhouse was born on 19 July 1830 in Aigburth, Liverpool, the son of wealthy mill-owning Quaker parents. His brothers were accountant Edwin Waterhouse, co-founder of the Price Waterhouse partnership that now forms part of PriceWaterhouseCoopers and solicitor Theodore Waterhouse, who founded the law firm Waterhouse & Co. that is now part of Field Fisher Waterhouse LLP in the City of London.
Alfred Waterhouse was educated at the Quaker run Grove School in Tottenham near London. He studied architecture under Richard Lane in Manchester, and spent much of his youth travelling in Europe and studying in France, Italy and Germany. Upon his return to England, Alfred set up his own architectural practice in Manchester.
Waterhouse continued to practise in Manchester for 12 years, until moving his practice to London in 1865. Waterhouse's earliest commissions were for domestic buildings. In executing the commission for the cemetery buildings at Warrington Road, Lower Ince, Wigan, (1855-56) he began his move towards designing public buildings in his developing Gothic style, building a Lodge for the Registrar, and two Chapels, one Church of England, and one Non-Conformist. However, his success as a designer of public buildings was assured in 1859 when he won the open competition for the Manchester Assize Courts (now demolished). This work not only showed his ability to plan a complicated building on a large scale, but also marked him out as a champion of the Gothic cause.
In 1860, he married Elizabeth Hodgkin (1834–1918), the sister of the historian Thomas Hodgkin.
Waterhouse had connections with wealthy Quaker industrialist through schooling, marriage and religious affiliation. Many of these Quaker connections commissioned him to design and build country mansions, especially in the areas near Darlington. Several of these were built for members of the Backhouse family, founders of Backhouse's Bank, a forerunner of Barclays Bank. For Alfred Backhouse, Waterhouse built Pilmore Hall (1863), now known as Rockliffe Hall, in Hurworth-on-Tees. In the same village he built The Grange (1875), now known as Hurworth Grange Community Centre, which Alfred Backhouse had commissioned as a wedding gift for his nephew, James. E. Backhouse. Another Backhouse family mansion designed and built by Waterhouse was Dryderdale Hall (1872), near Hamsterley, which many might recognise as the home of Cyril Kinnear in the movie Get Carter.
In 1865, Waterhouse was one of the architects selected to compete for the Royal Courts of Justice. The new University Club of New York was undertaken in 1866. In 1868 and nine years after his work on the Manchester Assize Courts, another competition secured for Waterhouse the design of Manchester Town Hall, where he was able to show a firmer and more original handling of the Gothic style. The same year he was involved in rebuilding part of Caius College, Cambridge; this was not his first university work, for he had already worked on Balliol College, Oxford in 1867, and the new buildings of the Cambridge Union Society, in 1866.
At Caius, out of deference to the Renaissance treatment of the older parts of the college, this Gothic element was intentionally mingled with classic detail, while Balliol and Pembroke College, Cambridge, which followed in 1871, are typical of the style of his mid career with Gothic tradition tempered by individual taste and by adaptation to modern needs. Girton College, Cambridge, a building of simpler type, dates originally from the same period (1870), but has been periodically enlarged by further buildings. Two important domestic works were undertaken in 1870 and 1871 respectively — Eaton Hall in Cheshire for the Duke of Westminster, and Heythrop Hall, Oxfordshire, the latter a restoration of a fairly strict classic type.
Waterhouse received, without competition, the commission to build the Natural History Museum in South Kensington (1873–1881), a design which marks an epoch in the modern use of architectural terracotta and which was to become his best known work. Waterhouse's other works in London included the National Liberal Club (a study in Renaissance composition), University College London's Cruciform Building, previously known as University College Hospital, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors in London's Great George Street (1896), and the Jenner Institute of Preventive Medicine in Chelsea (1895).
From the late 1860s, Waterhouse lived in the Reading area and was responsible for several significant buildings there. These included his own residences of Foxhill House (1868) and Yattendon Court (1877), together with Reading Town Hall (1875) and Reading School (1870). Foxhill House is still in use by the University of Reading, as are his Whiteknights House (built for his father) and East Thorpe House (built in 1880 for Alfred Palmer).
For the Prudential Assurance Company, Waterhouse designed many offices, including their Holborn Bars head office in Holborn and branch offices in Southampton, Nottingham and Leeds. He also designed offices for the National Provincial Bank in Piccadilly (1892) and in Manchester. The Liverpool Infirmary was Waterhouse's largest hospital; and St. Mary's Hospital in Manchester, the Alexandra Hospital in Rhyl, and extensive additions at the Nottingham General Hospital, also involved him. He was involved in a series of works for the Victoria University of Manchester, of which he was made LL.D. in 1895.
Other educational buildings designed by Waterhouse include Yorkshire College, Leeds (1878), the Victoria Building for the Liverpool University College (now University of Liverpool) (1885), St Paul's School in Hammersmith (1881-4; demolished 1968); and the Central Technical College in London's Exhibition Road (1881).
Among works not already mentioned are the Cambridge Union building and subsequently a similar building for the Oxford Union; Strangeways Prison; St Margaret's School, Bushey; the Metropole Hotel in Brighton; Hove Town Hall; Knutsford Town Hall; Alloa Town Hall; St. Elisabeth's Church in Reddish; Heaton Park Congregational Church in Prestwich; Darlington town clock, covered market hall and Backhouse's Bank (now Barclay's Bank); the former District Bank in Nantwich; the King's Weigh House chapel in Mayfair; and Hutton Hall in Yorkshire. St. Mary's Church in Twyford, Hampshire (1878) shows interestingly similar patterning to the Natural History Museum and was designed at the same time.
Waterhouse retired from architecture in 1902, having practised in partnership with his son, Paul Waterhouse, from 1891. He died at Yattendon Court on the 22 August 1905.
Waterhouse became a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1861, and was President from 1888 to 1891. He obtained a grand prix for architecture at the Paris Exposition of 1867, and a "Rappel" in 1878. In the same year he received the Royal Gold Medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, and was made an associate of the Royal Academy, of which body he became a full member in 1885 and treasurer in 1898. He was also a member of the academies of Vienna (1869), Brussels (1886), Antwerp (1887), Milan (1888) and Berlin (1889), and a corresponding member of the Institut de France (1893). After 1886 he was constantly called upon to act as assessor in architectural competitions, and was a member of the international jury appointed to adjudicate on the designs for the west front of Milan Cathedral in 1887. In 1890 he served as architectural member of the Royal Commission on the proposed enlargement of Westminster Abbey as a place of burial.
List of architectural work