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BELL-JOHN, Harry

Born: 1874
Died: 1942 12 24

Quantity Surveyor


Bell-John was born in Wales and trained as an engineer. He was articled in Cardiff, Wales to a firm of architects and quantity surveyors (unknown) and qualified as a professional associate of the Surveyors' Institute. He came to South Africa on the recommendation of Sir Aston Webb to a post as quantity surveyor in the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in 1902. In 1905 he convened a meeting of quantity surveyors and architects to discuss the formation of a society of quantity surveyors and was elected the Society's first President. The South African Institute of Quantity Surveyors was officially formed in 1907. In 1908 Bell-John was transferred to Potchefstroom as Assistant Engineer in the Public Works Department and later in the same post to Bloemfontein. In 1911 he was appointed District Engineer in Pretoria. Bell-John was on active service during the First World War and was awarded the Military Cross in 1917; he served mainly in East Africa. In 1917 he was recalled to South Africa and appointed District Engineer, Johannesburg. He was elected a Licentiate member of the RIBA in 1925 and was promoted to Chief Engineer in the Public Works Department in 1927. In 1929 he retired from the public service. Under his aegis in the same year a Department of Architecture and Quantity Surveying was established within the Faculty of Science at the Transvaal University College in Pretoria in response to a request to the Rector of the College by the Central Council of the Institute of South African Architects and the South African Chapter of Quantity Surveyors; Bell-John was appointed part-time Professor of Architecture and Quantity Surveying in this Department. The chair of architecture was established at the University of Pretoria only in 1943 (cf AL MEIRING), the year following Bell-John's death.

MC; LRIBA 1925; ISAA 1927; FSQI; President SACQS 1932 to 1933; (LRIBA nom papers (1925) 2952; SAAR Aug 1932:218-20; SAAR Oct 1932:272-73; SAB Feb 1818:214; SAB Apr 1927:37; SAAR Feb 1943:42 obit by GE PEARSE; TAD MHG 5481/42)

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.