Alfred Waterhouse

Photo of Alfred WaterhouseBorn in Liverpool on 19th July 1830, Alfred Waterhouse was articled to Richard Lane, a Manchester Architect. After touring France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany to round off his training, he set up his own practice in 1854 in Manchester.

In 1859, Waterhouse enjoyed his first major success, winning a competition for the design of the new Manchester Assize Courts. He introduced the novel concept of separating the public area of the building from the functional so the efficient design of the official accommodation was not constrained by the grander design of the public areas. Contracts followed for Salford Gaol and the Manchester Town Hall in 1869, where he solved the problem of locating a massive building on a difficult triangular site.

Waterhouse moved his practice to London in 1865 and was asked to undertake the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, one of his most remarkable achievements, completed in 1880. Further down Exhibition Road, he completed the City & Guilds Institute in 1881. During the same year, he made liberal use of terracotta for St. Paul's School, Westminster. Terracotta and brick were used extensively for the distinctive Prudential Assurance Company H.Q. in Holborn. A series of provincial offices followed, including those of Portsmouth and Southampton, his last major project from 1901 to 1904.

By the time of his appointment as architect for Twyford Church in 1875, Waterhouse had three Anglican churches in his extensive portfolio: St. John's, Brooklands, Manchester (1863), St. Martin's, Brasted in Kent (1865-6) and St. Matthew's, Blackmoor in Hampshire (1867-70).

Alfred took his son Paul into partnership in his London practice in 1891. Alfred retired on grounds of ill health in 1901 and died at Yattendon Court (built for himself in 1877) in 1903. The architectural practice of Waterhouse survives to this day, although the last practicing member of the family bearing the Waterhouse name, David, died in 1995.

I am grateful to Stanley Crooks, from whose book "Alfred Waterhouse in Twyford" this biography is based. CH