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THOMPSON, Albert John

Born: 1878 12 21
Died: 1940

Architect


Year registered: 1927

LRIBA 1912; FRIBA 1921

Worked in South Africa about 1921. He was probably born in England where he was educated in London privately and at church endowed schools. He received training in the Electrical Engineer's Department of the North Staffordshire Railway Offices in Stoke-on-Trent (1894-1897) and was then employed (1897) by Barry Parker and Raymond UNWIN in Buxton in Yorkshire and was resident architect and clerk of works at the Rockside Hydropathic, Matlock from 1903 until late 1904. From January to October 1905 he worked in Parker & Unwin's office at Letchworth Garden City and in October 1905 returned to the Rockside Hydropathic as resident architect and clerk of works where he remained until January 1907 when he returned to Unwin's office at Wylders, North End, Hampstead. Unwin had already begun work (1906) on Hampstead Garden Suburb. From April 1907 Thompson was chief assistant in the office and manager of all departments, responsible for Garden City and general domestic works. Unwin signed Thompson's LRIBA nomination papers (1912) and added that House Mr Richards and House Mr Burgess were Thompson's work. Thompson set up practice on his own in London where he practised for a year (1914-1915) before enlisting for service at the outbreak of the First World War. He served in the ROYAL ENGINEERS and was an Honorary Captain in the Royal Flying Corps (1915-1919). He returned to practice in January 1919 in partnership with Captain C Murray Hennell, FSI, and Lieut CH James, ARIBA. Among his principal works in England from after the Armistice until the time he left for South Africa in 1920 were the supervision of Swanpool Garden Suburb, Lincoln; Monks Rd Housing Scheme, Lincoln; Stoke-on-Trent Housing Scheme; Stanton Ironworks Co, Ilkeston, High Schools at Holwell, Pleasley and Nottingham and Southend-on-Sea Town Planning Scheme at Thorpe Bay.

It was the planning and development of the Pinelands Garden City scheme that brought THOMPSON to South Africa. The project had been given out to competition and although the first prize was awarded to the local architect John PERRY the designs for the layout and various types of houses were rejected after being referred to Sir Raymond Unwin. The first Supervising Architect of Pinelands, THOMPSON of the architectural firm who had planned the development of Welwyn, perhaps at the suggestion of Raymond Unwin, was then appointed to carry out the 'Town Planning Scheme for Cape Town covering 800 acres at Uitvlug' (Thompson's FRIBA nomination papers 1921), Pinelands Garden City. Unwin added a note to Thompson's FRIBA papers: 'for nineteen years he was one of my assistants and for the last seven years my chief assistant. Since the war he personally supervised the Swanpool Garden Suburb at Lincoln'. Thompson's address in Cape Town in 1921 was 'c/o Garden Cities Trust, Cape Town'. From 1923 to 1926 he was in partnership/association with TDP FORSYTH in Cape Town (cf THOMPSON & FORSYTH). In 1927 he moved to Durban where he was responsible for the planning of Durban North and for 'government land on the south coast' (not yet identified). It is not certain for whom he was working although it seems to have been for both municipal and for central government bodies. Thompson left South Africa in about 1928 for Nigeria. It is not certain how long he remained in Nigeria before he returned to Britain. He remained an absentee practising member of the Institute of South African Architects until his death.

(AB&E Apr 1921:11, 13; AB&E May 1921:1 port; AB&E Jul 1926:13, 14; FRIBA nom papers (1921) 1833; ISAA mem list; LRIBA nom papers (1912) 2115; RIBA biog file; SAAR Feb 1941:84)

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 THOMPSON

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

Hillebrand, Melanie. 1986. Art and architecture in Natal, 1910 1940. Pietermaritzburg: Unpublished Ph.D. Dept Fine Art and History of Art, University of Natal. pp 479

ISAA. 1927. Register of Members the Institute of South African Architects. Johannesburg: ISAA (Unpublished Record). pp T3