124 Facts About Alfred Waterhouse


Alfred Waterhouse was an English architect, particularly associated with the Victorian Gothic Revival architecture, although he designed using other architectural styles as well.

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Alfred Waterhouse is perhaps best known for his designs for Manchester Town Hall and the Natural History Museum in London, although he built a wide variety of other buildings throughout the country.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed several hospitals, the most architecturally interesting being the Royal Infirmary Liverpool and University College Hospital London.

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Alfred Waterhouse was particularly active in designing buildings for universities, including both Oxford and Cambridge but what became Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds universities.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed several bank buildings and offices for insurance companies, most notably the Prudential Assurance Company.

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Alfred Waterhouse was both a member of The Royal Institute of British Architects, of which he served a term as President, and a Royal Academician, acting as Treasurer for the Royal Academy.

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Financially speaking, Waterhouse was probably the most successful of all Victorian architects.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed some of the most expensive buildings of the Victorian age.

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Alfred Waterhouse had a reputation for being able to plan logically laid out buildings, often on awkward or cramped sites.

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Alfred Waterhouse built soundly constructed buildings, having built up a well structured and organised architectural office, and used reliable sub-contractors and suppliers.

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Alfred Waterhouse is known for the use of terracotta on the exterior of his buildings, most famously at the Natural History Museum.

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Alfred Waterhouse used faience, once its mass production was possible, on the interiors of his buildings.

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Alfred Waterhouse's interiors ranged from the most elaborate at Eaton Hall and Manchester Town Hall, respectively for Britain's richest man and northern England's richest city cottonopolis, to the simplest in buildings like the Royal Liverpool Infirmary, where utility and hygiene dictated the interior design, and the even starker Strangeways Prison.

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Alfred Waterhouse's father was Alfred Waterhouse Senior, a cotton broker, and his mother was Mary Waterhouse, nee Bevan, of Tottenham, both Quakers.

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Alfred Waterhouse was born on 19 July 1830 when the family was living at Stone Hill, Liverpool.

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Alfred Waterhouse was educated at the Quaker Grove House School in Tottenham.

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Alfred Waterhouse began his architectural studies in 1848 under Richard Lane in Manchester.

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Alfred Waterhouse was taught to produce architectural drawings with crisp lines and pale tints, very different from the style he would develop later.

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Alfred Waterhouse was taught theory by copying extracts from books, including Henry William Inwood's Of the Resources of Design in the Architecture of Greece, Egypt, and other Countries, obtained by the Studies of the Architects of those Countries from Nature and William Chamber's A treatise on civil architecture.

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Alfred Waterhouse traced the designs in Frederick Apthorp Paley's Manual of Gothic Mouldings.

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Alfred Waterhouse joined a sketching club, where he met Frederic Shields and Alfred Darbyshire.

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In May 1853 he set out to tour Europe with school friend Thomas Hodgkin who stated that Alfred Waterhouse "was entirely under the influence of Ruskin, and communicated his own admiration for Gothic art and a perfect detestation of that beastly Renaissance", the trip lasted nine months.

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On his return to Britain, Alfred Waterhouse set up in 1854 his own architectural practice based in Cross Street Chambers, Manchester.

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Alfred Waterhouse continued to practice in Manchester for 11 years, until moving his practice to London in 1865.

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In Nantwich, Churchside, Alfred Waterhouse designed the former Manchester and Liverpool District Bank, built of red brick.

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Alfred Waterhouse had connections with wealthy Quaker industrialists through schooling, marriage and religious affiliations, many of whom commissioned him to design and build country houses, especially in the areas near Darlington.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed for Joseph Pease Hutton Hall in Yorkshire, a large house Gothic of red brick with stone dressings and a slate roof, the commission included the gardens; the billiard room and conservatory were added in and there were further alterations and new stables added in 1875.

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Alfred Waterhouse adopted the radial plan of HM Prison Pentonville and showed his plans to its designer Joshua Jebb for his approval.

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Alfred Waterhouse's design was based around two large halls that formed a cruciform design.

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Alfred Waterhouse's design was supported by the two lawyers Cockburn and Palmer on the jury.

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The drawings from 1858 were consistent in style throughout Alfred Waterhouse's career, it was a crisp style with strong lines with colour coding, buff red for brick, yellow for stone, brown for timber, blue for metal.

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Alfred Waterhouse employed his own quantity surveyor, from 1860 to 1875 this was Michael Robinson, though of the one hundred jobs he was involved in most were in the north.

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Alfred Waterhouse tried Francis Skidmore for decorative iron work at Eaton Hall, but finding him unreliable turned to Robert Jones of Manchester and Hart, Son, Peard and Co.

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Many of Alfred Waterhouse's buildings include carving and sculpture, Thomas Earp was commissioned on about a dozen occasions most notably Harris's Bank Leighton Buzzard and St Elizabeth's Reddish.

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The most famous artworks to adorn one of Alfred Waterhouse's buildings are The Manchester Murals, painted by Ford Madox Brown in the Great Hall at Manchester Town Hall.

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Alfred Waterhouse was known for his ability to paint watercolour perspectives, sometimes they were produced for architectural competitions such as the entry for The Royal Courts of Justice competition and Manchester Town Hall, but based on their dates sometimes they were produced towards the end of the building process, most likely for publication.

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None of the sets of drawings is complete and several of Alfred Waterhouse's commissions are no longer represented in the collection.

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Alfred Waterhouse has a lasting reputation as a planner of efficient buildings, he was adept at using awkward sites to advantage, and with his public buildings combining large and small rooms and circulation spaces in a coherent manner.

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Alfred Waterhouse is well known for his use of terracotta and faience as a building material, one of the driving factors being its resistance to air pollution, an increasing problem as the industrial age advanced.

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Alfred Waterhouse relied on Gibbs and Canning Limited to supply the terracotta for the Natural History Museum, who he worked with to improve the quality of the material.

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Alfred Waterhouse used Gibbs and Canning for Holborn Bars, though for the regional Prudential buildings terracotta from Ruabon was used.

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Alfred Waterhouse liked terracotta because of its versatility giving him control over the texture of his buildings.

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Alfred Waterhouse had this to say about irregularity in colouring found in terracotta:.

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Alfred Waterhouse used terracotta in buildings of all styles from the Romanesque of the Natural History Museum, the Early English Gothic at Girton College, or the Perpendicular Gothic at St Paul's School Hammersmith, even neoclassical at the Parrot House Eaton Hall.

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Alfred Waterhouse especially liked to clad columns in faience, but walls and fireplaces as well.

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Alfred Waterhouse made much use of glazed tiles and terracotta within buildings, for example in the corridors at Manchester Town Hall.

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Alfred Waterhouse was fairly cautious in the use of cast iron, a result of a problem with the market building at Darlington, his only known building failure.

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Alfred Waterhouse was more at home using decorative wrought iron, especially for balustrades, iron screens and gates, finials and other decorative uses of the material.

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Alfred Waterhouse was a great enthusiast for the use of brick, especially as the abolition of the Brick tax in 1850 had lowered the price of the material.

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Until the early 1870s much of Alfred Waterhouse's brickwork was polychrome in nature using decoration such as diapering, later he preferred plain brick often with dressings of contrasting material.

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Alfred Waterhouse's sketchbooks are full of details of brickwork on the continent.

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Alfred Waterhouse never used coloured tiles on his roofs but occasionally designed patterned slate roofs, as on Manchester Town Hall.

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Alfred Waterhouse enjoyed using stone, he delivered a lecture on the subject at the Royal Academy of Art in 1885.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed furniture but only for his own buildings, and only for a specific commission, ensuring stylistic harmony.

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Alfred Waterhouse's first known design being a desk in the 1850s for his father.

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When it came to fireplaces Alfred Waterhouse usually designed them in timber, but in his grander buildings like Manchester Town Hall and Eaton Hall he used stone and marble.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed light fittings such as the large gasoliers in the Great Hall at Manchester Town Hall.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed grilles and screens such as those on his staircase at Balliol College, Oxford.

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Alfred Waterhouse had this to say in his 1891 Presidential address at the RIBA about stained glass:.

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Alfred Waterhouse took interior design seriously, liking to control the overall look, this is why he liked using faience, in his 1890 presidential address at the RIBA he had this to say:.

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Classical style bar in the dining room, National Liberal Club, London, an example of Alfred Waterhouse's furnishings, made of solid mahogany, note the geometrical patterns of the ribs in the plasterwork ceiling and the pendant light fittings.

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Gothic style Banqueting Room, Manchester Town Hall, showing a typical later style Alfred Waterhouse ceiling, note the fireplaces with stone fire-surrounds with tiled interiors and solid wooden over-mantles, on the left is an upper gallery with wrought-iron balustrade, for musicians to play on, the pendant light fittings are the original gasoliers converted to electricity.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed the former North Western Hotel, Lime Street, Liverpool, in the style of French Renaissance Revival architecture, it acted as the station hotel for Liverpool Lime Street railway station.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed the Shire Hall at Bedford in two phases and, that acted as the town's assize courts.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed the new Town Hall in Hove Sussex, built in a Gothic style in, it had a clock tower, it was demolished after being damaged by fire in 1966.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed offices for the National Provincial Bank in Piccadilly, London, four floors high with a stone facade.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed the Pearl Life Assurance Building, St John's Lane, Liverpool, clad in stone, with a corner turret, of three floors with gabled attic windows.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed the corporate headquarters of the Refuge Assurance Building, in Oxford Street, Manchester, in a Jacobethan style.

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Later in his career from around 1880, Alfred Waterhouse received fewer commissions for houses, fashions were changing.

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Also by Alfred Waterhouse is the large entrance lodge to the extensive grounds and a vinery.

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For Lt-Col James Fenton Greenall, Alfred Waterhouse designed Lingholm, Keswick, a large stone house with slate roof.

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In Hurworth-on-Tees he designed Hurworth Grange, now the Hurworth Grange Community Centre, which Alfred Backhouse had commissioned as a wedding gift for his nephew, James E Backhouse, large brick house with stone dressing.

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Alfred Waterhouse was commissioned by Henry Pease, to extended his existing mansion Pierrmont in Darlington, adding a new wing and conservatory, redecorated the hall, and built the gatehouse and the prominent clock tower.

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Alfred Waterhouse was never a major church designer, but throughout his career he received commissions for churches and chapels.

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In 1865 Alfred Waterhouse was commissioned to rebuild the ruinous medieval parish church of St Martin's Brasted in Kent, only the original tower was kept, apart from a new north aisle the building was rebuilt on the old foundations, the south window in the tower was new, Gothic in style, the windows are a mixture of geometrical and perpendicular tracery, it is built of stone with a tile roof.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed the Chapel for Reading Grammar School that he had designed in 1868 from red brick, it is Early English Gothic in style.

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St Elisabeth's Church, Reddish is a Church of England parish church and was designed for William Houldsworth, for whom Alfred Waterhouse designed other buildings in the area all part of Houldsworth Model Village.

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Alfred Waterhouse's other major hospital is what is University College London's Cruciform Building, the former site of University College Hospital; whereas Liverpool Royal Infirmary was a fairly conventional layout for a Victorian hospital University College Hospital would be a radical departure.

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The site was roughly square, but cramped, in order to maximise the building's size but ensure light and air to the wards Alfred Waterhouse came up with the X-plan design sitting diagonally across the site, and sitting on a two-storey high building.

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In Yorkshire Alfred Waterhouse designed Guisborough Grammar School, now Prior Pursglove and Stockton Sixth Form College, this consisted of the Master's House, school itself, of grey stone ground floor, the upper floor of red brick with yellow terracotta and slate roof, there were further alterations in 1897.

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At Leighton Park School in Reading, Alfred Waterhouse designed new dormitories and classrooms and extended the dining room, then a new sanatorium and boarding house Grove House.

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Alfred Waterhouse was to design three northern English universities, Manchester, Leeds and Liverpool, all would be in the Gothic style.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed buildings from 1877 for Yorkshire College, that from 1904 became Leeds University.

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Alfred Waterhouse began designing from 1881 buildings for what became University of Liverpool, with extensions to the former Liverpool Asylum to form University College.

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New buildings for Balliol College, Oxford, for example show Mr Alfred Waterhouse kept up with the stream of advancing taste without losing that individuality of design which every true artist wished to retain.

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Mr Alfred Waterhouse is constructing new buildings for Gonville and Caius College Cambridge in a curious and somewhat heavy Jacobitish [sic] style.

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Alfred Waterhouse returned to Gonville and Caius in 1883 to add a new lecture theatre block.

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Alfred Waterhouse restored the Master's Lodge and added a new gateway.

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Alfred Waterhouse went on to design the new Hall in, fellows' sets and a new library, with its bold clock tower.

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Alfred Waterhouse was commissioned by Emily Davies to design his only new college at either of the ancient universities, the Women's college Girton College, Cambridge.

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Unlike most colleges at Cambridge, Alfred Waterhouse choose to access the rooms via corridors rather than the normal sets of rooms off staircases.

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Alfred Waterhouse revised the design, working on the main elevation and tower throughout 1868 and 1869, as late as July 1875 well into the construction of the building Alfred Waterhouse revised the main tower design to add an extra 16 feet to its height.

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Broadly speaking it is built in the form of Gothic common in the thirteenth century, but, as Mr Alfred Waterhouse has rightly claimed, it is not a middle age but a modern building.

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Alfred Waterhouse received, without competition, the commission to build the Natural History Museum in South Kensington, he was approached by William Cowper First Commissioner of Works at the end of 1865 to carry out the design for the museum by the architect Francis Fowke who had just died.

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However a change of government meant plans were put on hold for eighteen months, in March 1868 Alfred Waterhouse submitted a new design, but the government changed again and the new First Commissioner Austen Henry Layard wanted the museum to be built in a new location on the Thames Embankment, but another change of First Commissioner Acton Smee Ayrton, switched the site back to the original site on Cromwell Road, he cut the budget from £500,000 to £330,000.

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The solution to the reduced budget that Alfred Waterhouse came up with including omitting the large lecture theatre that had been part of the design from the beginning, and to build the Museum in two stages.

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Alfred Waterhouse was commissioned in 1869 and work was completed in 1883.

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Alfred Waterhouse had to completely remodel and extended the current house.

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Alfred Waterhouse adapted the Golden Gates by the Davies brothers of Bersham, having Skidmores extend them at the sides and designed the two lodges flanking the gates, this used to face the main entrance to the Waterhouse mansion.

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The North Lodge to the Eaton Hall Estate was Alfred Waterhouse's, it is a four-storey round tower with a conical roof, in the style of late medieval French chateau.

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Parrot House, in the grounds of Eaton Hall, a very rare example of Alfred Waterhouse designing a neo-classical building, the use of bright yellow terracotta is atypical.

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One of the Alfred Waterhouse's significant public buildings in London is the National Liberal Club a Gentlemen's club, it is a study in Renaissance composition.

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Alfred Waterhouse himself belonged to the Liberal Party and his brother Theodore was solicitor to the club.

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Prudential Assurance Company founded in 1848, was growing rapidly by the 1870s, and adopted a policy of constructing custom-built offices with speculative office development Alfred Waterhouse's first commission for the company were the headquarters building the first phase of Holborn Bars on the corner of Brooke Street built on the site of Furnival's Inn, initially the capacity was for 500 clerks.

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In 1901 Alfred Waterhouse designed Staple Inn Buildings on High Holburn, for the Prudential, it is nearly opposite Holburn Bars.

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Alfred Waterhouse wanted to use buff terracotta as more sympathetic to Staple Inn next door, but the Company insisted that he stick with the house style of red brick and terracotta.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed the stables, the walled garden, a lodge, and cottages.

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In 1860 Alfred Waterhouse married Elizabeth Hodgkin, who was a Quaker, daughter of John Hodgkin and sister of the historian Thomas Hodgkin, who was a school friend of Alfred Waterhouse.

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Alfred Waterhouse's best known work was The Island of Anarchy, a Utopian story set in the late 20th century, first published in 1887 and more recently re-published by the Reading-based Two Rivers Press.

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Eldest of the five children the couple had was Paul Alfred Waterhouse, after being educated at Eton College and taking a degree in Classics at Balliol College, Oxford he would follow his father's profession joining the practice in 1884, his father made him a partner in 1891.

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In turn Michael's son David Barclay Alfred Waterhouse was the fourth generation to follow the profession retiring in 1989.

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Alfred Waterhouse designed his own house in 1860, Barcombe Cottage, Fallowfield, Manchester.

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Alfred Waterhouse went on to design the Gothic Foxhill House, Reading, as the family's first country residence.

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Alfred Waterhouse's grandson sold Yattendon Court to Edward Iliffe, 1st Baron Iliffe, and it was demolished and replaced by the current house in 1926.

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Alfred Waterhouse was a friend of fellow architects Richard Norman Shaw and William Burges.

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Alfred Waterhouse had been a guest of the Foreign Architectural Book Society, founded in 1859, it was restricted to fifteen members, so it was only on the death of Burges in 1881 that Waterhouse could join.

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In 1865 Alfred Waterhouse took a three week holiday in the Loire Valley, from which forty of his sketches survive.

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Alfred Waterhouse suffered a stroke in 1901, leading to his retirement from architecture in 1902, having practised in partnership with his son, Paul Alfred Waterhouse, from 1891, his son took over the practice.

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Alfred Waterhouse became a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1861, and was president from 1888 to 1891.

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Alfred Waterhouse was awarded a rappel to the grand prix for architecture at the Paris Exposition of 1867.

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Alfred Waterhouse first exhibited one of his designs at the Royal Academy of Arts in 1857, and then from 1868 to 1901 with the exception of 1873 he exhibited mainly designs of his own buildings annually.

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Alfred Waterhouse was made an associate of the Royal Academy on 16 January 1878, of which body he became a full member on 4 June 1885.

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Alfred Waterhouse's diploma piece is an 1887 pen and ink drawing with colour washes, a perspective of the main facade of Manchester Town Hall and he was the Royal Academy's treasurer from 17 November 1897 to 5 December 1901.

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Alfred Waterhouse was a member of the academies of Vienna, Brussels, Antwerp, Milan and Berlin, and a corresponding member of the Institut de France.

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