Trained at the Architecture Association School, Dublin. After qualifying he served as a pupil for some time as an architect for George L O'Connor (1925/6) in Dublin, before working for one year as chief architectural assistant to J.F. Delany (1926/27). He became a member of the Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland before coming to South Africa in 1928. Before he left Ireland he wrote to Sir Herbert BAKER and obtained a letter of introduction, on the grounds of BAKER's own familiarity with South Africa. CLINCH arrived in Cape Town in September 1928 where he met a fellow Roman Catholic architect, FM GLENNIE, who also gave him an introduction to Catholic circles in the Transvaal where Clinch intended to work. On his arrival in Pretoria in February 1929, CLINCH was first employed by the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in Pretoria where he remained for two years; a letter from him to the Secretary of the Institute of South African Architects dated 15 September 1930 is addressed from the PWD (ISAA Records). In about 1930 he won a competition for the design of an as yet unidentified building, enabling him to leave the PWD with a view to setting up his own practice. To this purpose he joined the office of DM SINCLAIR in Johannesburg and sat the special qualifying examination in December 1931. He was admitted to the Institute of South African Architects in 1932.
His association with the firm of KALLENBACH, KENNEDY & FURNER (1932-3) was brief and purely nominal: in about 1932 he had been given a major job, the designing of the catholic cathedral in Pretoria. He was entirely responsible for the design of this building, for which he adopted a Gothic Revival style (the stained glass artists Gourley & Watson were commissioned to execute the windows for the cathedral). Since the job was considered large for such a young and relatively inexperienced architect, KALLENBACH, KENNEDY & FURNER agreed to act as associates. CLINCH, upset by claims that the building was the design of this firm, promptly severed his ties with them.
Subsequently CLINCH worked on many occasions for the catholic community in South Africa. He preferred to work in historic revival styles but many of his buildings were in more modern idiom. CLINCH continued to work in Johannesburg until his retirement in 1981, owing to illness and age (eighty-one); he only formally retired from the Institute of South African Architects in 1982.
ARIAI; ISAA 1932; TPIA 1933. (CLINCH 1990; ISAA mem list; Cumming-George 1934)
The information in this record has been updated by Jonas Hughes, grandson of CLINCH, who also sent us the photograph.
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.