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WHITE-COOPER, William

Born: fl. 1882
Died: after 1935

Architect


Was born in England and educated at Charterhouse School. He attended Cambridge University in 1882 where he obtained a degree in Applied Science at Cambridge. He entered the Royal Academy Architectural School in 1883 while articled to the well-known English architect JL Pearson (1817-1897) in London, who worked in a gothic style and was the architect of Truro Cathedral in Cornwall, England. White-Cooper was in Pearson's office for six years and was thus exposed to Pearson's office style and to the work of other leading British architects, notably R Norman SHAW, judging from some of White-Cooper's later buildings which tend towards English Renaissance style.

Immediately after leaving Pearson's office in 1889, White-Cooper came to South Africa and apparently first worked as an assistant to Sydney STENT (possibly for a period of six months) before being appointed by Bishop Webb as supervisor the building of John O SCOTT's design for the chancel of the Cathedral church of St Michael and St George, Grahamstown. It is likely that White-Cooper's experience in Pearson's office had something to do with his appointment. Nevertheless, Webb was obviously satisfied with White-Cooper's work since he appointed him Diocesan Architect to the Church of the Province of South Africa (CPSA) for Eastern Province and Border districts. Apart from his later school buildings, White-Cooper became a specialist in church buildings, designing a number of churches in the Diocese of Grahamstown as well as at least two churches for the Dutch Reformed Church in a Cape Dutch style which owes something to the Flemish Renaissance style popular in London in the 1870s and 1880s. He soon had a flourishing practice with offices in Cradock and Grahamstown.

His architectural career took a different direction when in 1894 he won the competition for the Methodist school, Kingswood College in Grahamstown. He subsequently made a study tour in 1895 of European schools to look at the latest developments in School design spending some months travelling and sketching in Belgium and Germany. On his return to South Africa he was immediately in demand for several subsequent major schools in the Cape Province. His use of red brick relieved at intervals by white bands of brickwork and the Flemish Renaissance details of Kingswood School becoming his stock-in-trade. In 1900 he made a further trip to Europe to look at schools and in 1906 was a member of the South African delegation attending the 7th International Congress of Architects in London. White-Cooper was among the last of the Victorian architects working in the Cape. In about 1921 White-Cooper came to live in Cradock, he appears to have relinquished his practice in Port Elizabeth to H SIEMERINK (c1925?). His son Rupert Charles White-Cooper trained and practised as an architect in England.

FRIBA 1898; MA (UCT). (Bodill 1983:95-7; FRIBA nom papers (1898); Heroldt 1988; Picton-Seymour 1977; SAA&B Sep 1905:234-35; SAAE&S Jnl Oct 1905:8, 12-13 port; SAAE&S Jnl Dec 1905:36)

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 WHITE-COOPER

Bakker, Karel A, Clarke, Nicholas J. 2014. Eclectic ZA Wilhelmiens : A shared Dutch built heritage in South Africa. Pretoria: Visual Books. pp 198

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 528

Herholdt, AD. 1994. Eight beautiful Gothic revival churches of Port Elizabeth. Port Elizabeth: Ad Hoc Publishers. pp 111

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pp 95, 113