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WELLMAN, Ernest James

Born: 1864 12 09
Died: ?

Architect


Year registered: 1927

FSA; TPIA; NIA; FRIBA 1925

Was born in London and educated St John the Divine's School, London. He was the son of JR Wellman, a well-known entomologist. In 1880 he entered the office of PJJ Fay, Arundel St, London as a pupil; Fay was architect to the Arundel estates. He also studied at the Architectural Association, where, according to Twentieth Century Impressions of Natal (1906:261) he was elected a member in 1888. He worked for several architects in London such as Theo K Green, EJ Tarver, Edward Clarke, Sir William Emerson and George Heighton. In 1892 Wellman left England for health reasons, and came to Natal. After a short stay he was offered an 'advantageous job from a prominent Rand architect' (Twentieth Century Impressions of Natal 1906:261), William LECK; Wellman was managing assistant to Leck for four years. During the time with Leck he was associated with the New Club, Trust Buildings, Glencairn Buildings, Public Library and houses in Parktown, Johannesburg. A plan by Wellman for a house in Johannesburg dated 1896 suggests that he was in practice on his own account by this date. Owing to the Anglo-Boer War, he returned to Natal and practised in Pietermaritzburg and Durban. In 1901 he won the competition for the new offices of the Engineering Staff of the Natal Government Railways in Pietermaritzburg - assisted by GB LAFFAN and completed in 1905. Wellman submitted designs for the competition for the University of the Cape of Good Hope in 1903. In 1905 he returned to Johannesburg, marrying the same year and recommencing practice in Johannesburg again designing a number of houses. In about 1906 he entered two competitions, neither of which he won, but he sent the drawings to the Royal Academy in London where they were exhibited in 1907 and published in Academy Architecture in 1908. The competitions were those for the new Law Courts in Bloemfontein and the University College, Transvaal. Both his entries were well-proportioned, classical buildings with restrained decoration. In 1918 he left to undertake war work in London of which he wrote a short account which was published in Building (Jun 1919:278-79): 'eventually got to HM Office of Works, which seems to have become pretty much what the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT did of South Africa in the lean years of 1907-1910, a home for 'Indigent Architects'. The chief of that department being in the room next to mine.' By 1920 he had returned to Johannesburg and reopened his practice. As yet no buildings from this period have been identified. He exhibited a model of the Parkview Church at the second South African Academy [of Arts] Exhibition in 1921.

He was also the author of The sign of the fish and The bible and Christian Science (n.d. but before 1919/1920). He resigned from the ISAA 1929. No details appear on his FRIBA papers.

Soc Archts (1894). (A&B Jul 1918:397; Afr Archt May 1913:v; Building Mar 1920:351; Building Jun 1921:474; Building Dec 1922:116; FRIBA nom papers (1925); ISAA mem list; Jnl ATA Jun 1916:19; Longland's Tvl & Rhod dir 1903; Men Tvl 1905:366 port; SAAE&S Jnl Oct 1905:8-9, 12-13; SAWW 1908, 1910, 1919/20)

Publ: Expression in architectural style, Afr Archt Jun 1911:15-17; Unity in the profession, Jnl ATA Feb 1916:4-5; Jnl ATA Sep 1916:29; Corres: Competition, Building Mar 1918:127-28; A school of architecture, Building Sep 1918:179-80; The profession at home under war conditions, Building Jun 1919:278-79; Unity, AB&E Aug 1918:21

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.