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SMITH, Charles Henry

Born: 1863
Died: 1931 03


Had an extensive practice in Cape Town from 1896 until about 1928. He was born in London and trained as an architect and surveyor, serving articles with Mr Durrant, Architect and Surveyor, New Wandsworth, Surrey from 1879 to 1880; he left to join the ROYAL ENGINEERS in 1881 and attended the Royal Engineers Architectural School at Chatham until 1882 before being employed as a draughtsman in the Royal Engineers' Department, Aldershot, for three-and-a-half years from 1883 to 1886 on 'reconstruction of offices and Governors' residences, etc' (Associate nom papers 1895). In about 1886 he was appointed chief draughtsman under Sir Howard Elphinstone to help in the reconstruction of Aldershot Camp; in 1887 he was appointed chief draughtsman to Commanding Royal Engineers, South Africa, where he remained until 1892, employed on the remodelling of 'old Dutch Forts in the Cape Peninsula and in the erection of others' (ARIBA nom papers 1895). While Smith was stationed in the Cape he worked on Wynberg prison and travelled for six months visiting the principal South African towns, 'Kimberley etc'. He returned to England in 1892 taking up the post of chief architectural draughtsman at the Royal Engineers' offices in Woolwich in 1892 and remaining there until 1895. He passed the RIBA exam in 1894 and became an Associate member of the RIBA, leaving the Royal Engineers and entering private practice in the office of GAT Middleton in 1895; he returned to Cape Town in 1896 and set up practice on his own account with considerable success. An example of his domestic style was House Frank Cartwright in Claremont, a large double-storeyed house, gabled and half-timbered with a verandah turning the corner; the central hall was hexagonal with a fine double stairway. During his first stay in South Africa, Smith had been appointed to the committee responsible for drafting the constitution of the proposed South African Society of Architects in 1889 and was a founder member in 1901, serving on the council of the renamed Society (it became the Cape Institute of Architects in 1902) in 1902 and in 1907. The depression in the Cape seems to have affected Smith since he was listed as practising in Boksburg in the Transvaal in 1909 but appears to have returned to the Cape as soon as possible, credit was given to Smith in the South African who's who (1931-2) as a pioneer in the use of reinforced concrete in Cape Town, Maxwell Earp's Building in Cape Town (later Kodak House) 'being the first building erected in the Cape in this form of construction, now universally used in all building' (SAWW 1931/2). In 1927 he was appointed adjudicator of the competition for the London & Lancashire Insurance Co Building, Cape Town, a limited competition in which all the competitors were paid a fee. The competition was won by KENDALL & MORRIS. Smith was a keen organist and was honorary organist at St Thomas's Church, Rondebosch, the suburb in which he lived in Cape Town and was a member of the Owl Club and of the Organist's Guild. He died in Cape Town.

ARIBA London 1895; ISAA 1927. (Afr Archt Aug 1924:3; Afr Archt Jul 1914:7; ARIBA nom papers (1895); ISAA mem list; Middleton 1910; Picton-Seymour 1977; RIBA Jnl 1930-1:330 death notice; SAA&B Feb 1904: 78-80; SAA&B Dec 1904:70; SAA&B Feb 1905:73,75; SAA&B Mar 1905:122; SAAE&S Jnl Jan 1907:68; SAAR Mar 1931:33 death notice; SA Clywkr & Bldr Dec 1903:43; SAWW 1931-32 portr and obit list; UTD 1909)

Publ: Builders' quantities, letter, SAA&B Dec 1904:70; Early architecture at the Cape of Good Hope, SAA&B Aug 1905:221-6; Reinforced concrete in relation to colonial building, SAAE&S Jnl Aug 1906:162-3

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 SMITH

Brodie, Antonia (Editor). 1993. Directory of British Architects, 1834-1914: Vol. 2 (L-Z). London: Mansell. pp 673

Brown, SM. 1969. Architects and others: an annotated list of people of South African interest appearing in the RIBA Journal 1880 1925. Johannesburg: Unpublished dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand. pp

Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pp 82, 107, 108, 131, 590

ISAA. 1927. Register of Members the Institute of South African Architects. Johannesburg: ISAA (Unpublished Record). pp S16

Johnson, Brian Andrew. 1987. Domestic architecture at the Cape, 1892-1912 : Herbert Baker, his associates and his contemporaries. Cape Town: Unpublished Thesis UNISA. pp 393

Walker, Michael. 2010. A Statement In Stone. Cape Town: Privately published by Michael Walker. pp 17-19

Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pp 55-57