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TIMLIN, William Mitcheson

Born: 1892 04 11
Died: 1943 06 06


Was born in Ashington, Northumberland, England and studied art at the Armstrong College of Art, Newcastle-on-Tyne to which he had won a scholarship from Morpeth Grammar School. In 1912, aged about twenty, he accompanied his parents to Kimberley and was apprenticed there to DW GREATBATCH. In Kimberley he passed the South Kensington Board of Education Art examinations with Honours and in 1914 founded the Art section of the Kimberley Club. In about 1920 Timlin entered into partnership with Greatbatch (cf. GREATBATCH & TIMLIN) in Kimberley. Greatbatch left South Africa in 1921 and Timlin continued the practice in Kimberley under the same style. The firm executed a large number of buildings, not all of them very distinguished, in Kimberley. After 1921 the work of Greatbatch & Timlin should be considered to be that of Timlin. Timlin is more widely known in South Africa for his illustrations, drawings and paintings. He had a fine gift for fantasy of which the best examples were for the interior work of several atmospheric theatres in the country which provided him with a unique outlet for this talent. His most famous interior was that of the Colosseum Theatre in Johannesburg, tragically demolished with the building in 1985. He was connected with the design for the interior of the Alhambra Theatre in Cape Town, a drawing of which was published in the Architect, Builder & Engineer (Jul 1928:7). He wrote and illustrated a book in 1923, The Ship that sailed to Mars; the film rights of the book were bought by a group in America, not yet identified. The film was to be called 'Get off the Earth', but was never made. In 1926 he was the subject of an article by the art critic D LEFEBVRE, published in the South African Architectural Record (Dec 1926:98-99). Timlin painted and worked in water colours and pastels, holding several exhibitions which were well received. Some of his paintings which were in the collection of the Athenaeum are now in the William Humphries Collection in Kimberley, and was chairman of the Athenaeum in its early years until its disbandment in the 1940s. He exhibited at the annual exhibitions of the South African Academy [of Arts] on a regular basis from the first held in 1919 until his death. Apart from drawing and painting Timlin wrote music and worked as an etcher and an illustrator of several more books, among which are some by Hedley Chilvers. In March 1934 he designed the illuminated address presented by the Municipality of Kimberley to HRH Prince George on his visit there. In 1936 he travelled to Java by way of Zanzibar, returning to practise in Kimberley where he died several years later, aged fifty-one of inflammation of the lungs. He was reputed to own the most beautiful toy collection in South Africa.

See also Wikipedia

LRIBA 1925; ISAA 1927; RSA; FSASA. (Braby's OFS & Basutoland dir 1938-9; Lantern Jul 1984:42; Marilyn Martin, personal communication, 1984; SAAR Dec 1926:98-99; SAAR Jan 1934: 2-8, xi, xii; SAAR Feb 1934:58;; SAWW 1935; SAB Mar 1934:37; SESA 5:309; S v d Stel Bull May 1972:8)

Publ: The ship that sailed to Mars, 1923; South Africa: a series of pencil sketches, 1927; Sketches for The building of a fairy city, c1925; illustrations for Out of the crucible by Hedley Chilvers, 1929; illustrations for Kalahari kaskenades (Kalahari pranks), Hobson Bros. 1929

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

Alexandersfontein Hotel: 1900-1902 : 1907. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect 1907
Alhambra Theatre: 1929-1930. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect interior
Christian Brothers' College: 1905 : pre-1933 : 1933. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect
Church: 1930. Sydney-on-Vaal, Northern Cape - Design Architect
Colosseum Theatre: 1931. Central, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
Golf Club, extensive alt: 1932. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect
Great (First World) War Memorial - The Cenotaph: 1927. Belgravia, Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect
High School: 1928. Vryburg, North West - Architect
Kimberley Boys' High School: 1913. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect apprentice
Kimberley Girls' High School: 1905 : 1913. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect lych gate 1913
Kimberley Hospital, memorial window: 1927. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect
Memorial to Col Sir David Harris, KCMG, VD: 1930. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect
Memorial to Maj Gen Sir HT Lukin - Pedestal: 1934. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect
Old Boys' War Memorial at the Christian Brothers' College: n.d.. Kimberley, Northern Cape - Architect
Queen's Hotel: 1938. Bloemfontein, Free State - Architect
Tucker's Hotel: n.d.. Heilbron, Free State - Architect

Books by TIMLIN

Timlin, William M. 1923?. The ship that sailed to Mars : a fantasy. London: George G. Harrap

Timlin, William M. 1927. South Africa. A series of pencil sketches by William M. Timlin with an introduction by Gilbert. E. Chitenden. London: A & C Black

Hobson, GC & Hobson, SB. 1929. Kalahari kaskenades. London: Longmans, Green

Hobson, GC , Hobson, SB & Timlin, William M. 1931. Kees van die Kalaharie - with illustrations by W.M. Timlin. Pretoria: J.L. Van Schaik

Books citing TIMLIN

Berman, Esmé. 1983. Art and artists of South Africa: An illustrated biographical dictionary and historical survey of painters, sculptors and graphic artists since 1875. Cape Town : Balkema. pp 6, 86, 135, 136 ill, 141, 192, 244, 298, 371, 380, 455-456+ills, 488, 507, 513, 514

Berman, Esmé. 1970. Art and artists in South Africa : an illustrated biographical dictionary and historical survey of painters and graphic artists since 1875. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 6, 60, 98+ill, 103, 134, 169, 201, 254, 261, 298, 300 ill

Chilvers, Hedley A. 1929. Out of the Crucible. Being the romantic story of the Witwatersrand Goldfields; and of the Great City which arose in their midst (with sixteen drawings by William M. TIMLIN). London: Cassell. pp Sixteen Illustration

ISAA. 1927. Register of Members the Institute of South African Architects. Johannesburg: ISAA (Unpublished Record). pp T5b

Jeppe, Harold. 1964. Suid-Afrikaanse kunstenaars, 1900-1962. Johannesburg: Afrikaanse Pers Boekhandel. pp

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 388

SAWW & Donaldson, K. 1938. South African Who's Who (Social and Business) 1938. Cape Town: Ken Donaldson. pp 239

Yuill, David William. 1984. The architecture of Kimberley 1871-1914. Johannesburg: Thesis (Masters), University of Witwatersrand. pp