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COTTRILL, Gilbert St John

Born: 1875
Died: 1910 07 21

Architect


Also referred to as ST JOHN COTTRILL, Gilbert.

Was born in Somerset, England and articled in Wolverhampton to Joseph Lavender. One J Colin Child, whom Cottrill had assisted with the plans for rebuilding Child's house at Tutshill in England, wrote a letter of recommendation for Cottrill stating: 'I have known Gilbert Cottrill (of Bath) some years during which time he was articled to J Lavender Esq, Wolverhampton, who is a first class man' (NAD PWD 2614/98). Lavender also wrote a letter of recommendation in which he emphasised Cottrill's 'excellent abilities, inventive power in design' and neat draughtsmanship. On completion of his articles Cottrill left to work in Bath, Somerset for C Bryan Oliver for two and a half years. Cottrill had contacts with Harry Escombe's family in England and when Cottrill arrived in Durban in 1898, Escombe wrote to JFE BARNES, the chief engineer of Natal, saying that Cottrill was a student of the Architect's Institute. For nine months Cottrill worked for POWELL & SON in Durban, and when he left this office later in 1898, wrote of Cottrill 'he is able and efficient ... painstaking and industrious and bears evidence of having been well trained as an architect' (NAD PWD 2614/98). Cottrill left Powell for employment in the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in Pietermaritzburg where, amongst other work, he was responsible for drawing up the plans for the Native High Court in Pietermaritzburg, designed by the chief architect AE DAINTON, which drawings are boldly dated '25th DECEMBER'. He resigned from the Department in 1901 and there is no further record of him in Natal and he appears to have left immediately for Johannesburg where by 1903 he was recorded working in partnership with Frank BROWN (cf. BROWN & COTTRILL), the partnership was listed in the Johannesburg directories until 1905. These dates are incidentally corroborated by GE PEARSE who was apprenticed to Brown & Cottrill for four years (1902 until about 1906) and who commented, not very accurately, that neither Brown nor Cottrill had architectural qualifications and adding 'Gilbert Cottrill had been in the ROYAL ENGINEERS during the Anglo-Boer War and had a good knowledge of land surveying' (Pearse c1960). Cottrill's partnership with Brown ended in about 1906 and he then worked in collaboration with HS MORRIS in Johannesburg in about 1906 or 1907 (cf MORRIS & COTTRILL). In 1907 he was involved in an action against him for damages caused by alleged neglect, brought by St Mary's Church Council; the case was resolved a month later with the matter put down to inadequate supervision. In 1906 Cottrill was also a member of the Council of the Transvaal Institute of Architects and a delegate to the 7th International Congress of Architects, held in London in 1906. He was also listed in 1911 (he had died in 1910) as a member of the Provisional Council of the Transvaal for the registration of architects. Cottrill never married. He died aged thirty-five in the Johannesburg hospital.

He was born in Shepton Mallet to the chemist Gilbert Jones Cottrill who was from an old Worcestershire family and his wife Sylvia Parker whose father Josiah was amongst the first group of men admitted to Broadmoor hospital as a consequence of murdering his wife with a meat cleaver. Sylvia’s brother Frank emigrated to America where he was awarded the rank of Colonel for his services as a scout in the Nez Perce Indian wars and became a newspaper proprietor. Her brother Thomas emigrated to Australia.

Additional information sent to us by Phil Goater, a relative of Cottrill.

(Afr Arch Jun 1911:21; Herbert 1975:7; NAD PWD 2614/98, NAD PWD 1780/1901; SAAE&S Jnl May 1907:131; SAAE&S Jnl Aug 1906:164; TAD MHG 16184)

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.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes


Christ Church, Caroline St/Clarendon Place: 1908. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
Nurses' Home, near hospital: 1906. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
St Mary's Church Home: 1903. Jeppestown, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
St Saviour's Church, City & Suburban: 1905. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect