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NEWHAM, William Benjamin Turner

Born: 1894
Died: 1975

Architect

SACA:
Reg No: 89
Year registered: 1927

ARIBA (1923); TPIA (1927); ISAA (1927).

Was born in Pretoria and was articled to BAKER & FLEMING in Johannesburg from 1914 until 1917. He remained for a short time as an assistant in this office and passed the qualifying examination held at School of Mines and Technology in 1918. He left to study at the Architectural Association day schools in London, from 1920 to 1921). During this period he travelled for two months in Italy and took his RIBA final examination in July 1922, his address at the time being c/o Gotch & Saunders, Ketteridge. In 1922 he married Dr MHS Auden, a granddaughter of Sir Andries Stockenstrom and a niece of the poet WH Auden. By 1923 he was working in Pretoria and was elected Associate membership of the RIBA in 1923, the papers being signed by J Lockwood HALL of the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in Pretoria where he was employed on the permanent staff of in 1925. Newham, a talented artist with a keen interested in artistic matters, was apparently nicknamed 'Potty Newham' because of his interest in the Ceramic Studio at Olifantsfontein. His interest in the work of the Studio contributed to their being commissioned for decorative work inside many Government buildings both in South Africa and overseas (Newham 1988). In 1926 he submitted designs for the Pretoria City Hall competition but currently nothing is known of these. Newham was appointed senior architectural assistant (one of five) in the PWD in 1929. In the large cartoon by Robert Cole BOWEN (1932) depicting PWD personnel of the time Newham is drawn lying on his back with his arms behind his head in a dreamy trance. In 1936 he was appointed one of five senior assistant architects, the post of senior architectural assistant having been discarded. Within the PWD Newham enjoyed a high reputation as a draughtsman, according to contemporaries he was able to draw elaborate gables and complicated baroque or rococo fanlights with unparalleled rapidity and accuracy, and Greig (1971:186) notes that he was a reputed expert on Dutch Gables.

In about 1937 he designed his own house in Sydney St, Waterkloof, a Cape Dutch-styled house with elegant gables overlooking the Pretoria Country Club. Every room has a series of painted tiles made by the Ceramic Studio, some being sketches of his young family. Newham was responsible for the design of numerous post offices throughout the country: 'his signature may be recognised by the incorporation of glazed picture tiles depicting South African scenes and animals in the foyers as well as the large terracotta (Kirkness?) pots flanking the entrances. The use of these tiles and pots encouraged the ceramic industry at Olifantsfontein' (Newham 1988). Newham painted pictures of Cape Dutch style buildings of which several exist in private collections. He contributed frequent articles to the monthly journal Public Works of South Africa from 1932 onwards, in which he outlines various departmentally designed buildings.

In 1948 Newham left the PWD and was appointed Transvaal Provincial Architect, a post he held until his retirement in 1954. In 1951 he was elected a Fellow of the RIBA He died in Pretoria aged 84.

Submitted and entry for the Competition for the new Prime Minister's Residence - unplaced.

ARIBA nom papers (1923) 3639; Abbott 1987; Building Sep 1918:194; Building Mar 1919:235; Building Dec 1922:126; Building Dec 1923:120; ISAA mem list; Newham 1988;PSL 1934; SAAR Jun 1926:35-7 ill).

Publ: Contemporary work in Pretoria, Building Dec 1923:120; New post office at Vrede, PWSA Oct 1939:28 ill; New residence at Bloemfontein for the Governor General, PWSA Nov 1939:16-17 ill; Post Office, Wolmaransstad, PWSA Aug 1939:25 ill; Place of the birds - Native Commissioner's office, PWSA Jun 1939:33; Winburg Post Office, PWSA May 1939:22 ill; Halfway House Post Office, Transvaal, PWSA Nov 1938:27; Germiston Post Office, PWSA Dec 1938: 27; New Government offices, Lourenco Marques, PWSA Dec 1938:34-35; Durban defence force department main block, PWSA Feb 1939:23; The East London Post Office, PWSA Apr 1939:29-30; Port Elizabeth Government offices, PWSA Apr 1939:34-36; Public offices, White River, PWSA Jul 1939:30; New Post Office building, Randfontein, PWSA Feb 1940:26

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books citing NEWHAM

Greig, Doreen. 1971. A Guide to Architecture in South Africa. Cape Town: Howard Timmins. pp

ISAA. 1959. The Yearbook of the Institute of South African Architects and Chapter of SA Quantity Surveyors 1958-1959 : Die Jaarboek van die Instituut van Suid-Afrikaanse Argitekte en Tak van Suid-Afrikaanse Bourekenaars 1958-1959. Johannesburg: ISAA. pp 95, 200

ISAA. 1927. Register of Members the Institute of South African Architects. Johannesburg: ISAA (Unpublished Record). pp N4