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CONNER, William Tait

Born: 1867
Died: 1931 11 06


Also referred to as TAIT CONNER, William.

Designed the Transvaal Scottish Memorial in King George St, Johannesburg (1923). He was a Scot, born and educated in Glasgow and articled to Campbell Douglas & Sellars in Glasgow from 1884 to 1889, remaining as assistant for a further six months. The firm was responsible for a great deal of work in Glasgow and, according to Conner's ARIBA papers (1891), designed the buildings for the first Glasgow International Exhibition (n.d.), St Andrew's Halls (1873) and the New Club (1879). While Conner was in the office one of the buildings he may have worked on was the Coupar Institute (1887). Conner left for London in 1890 where he was assistant to ARG Fenning and to AE Hughes, passing the RIBA examination the same year: 'a diligent and successful worker both as a pupil and assistant and to be depended on to execute what he takes in hand' (ARIBA nom papers 1891). He started his own practice in Glasgow in 1898 and in collaboration with Henry Mitchell entered (and won?) the competition for the Moulin School (Glasgow?), illustrated in Academy Architecture (1898:85, 89). He came to South Africa in 1902 and worked in Cape Town for a year for an unidentified firm of architects and his address at the time was Jaggersfontein House, Breda Street. In 1903 [this date needs to be checked, he did a proposal for a War Memorial in Klerksdorp dated 1902] he moved to Johannesburg and entered into partnership with A HAMILTON (cf TAIT CONNER & HAMILTON). It seems that around 1915 Hamilton left to work for the Public Works Department in Pretoria. During the First World War both Conner and Hamilton were on active service, Hamilton being killed in 1917. Conner returned to Johannesburg and continued the practice. In 1921 he won the competition for the Boksburg War Memorial and retained an interest in military affairs, particularly in the Volunteer movement and he was a Freemason. So keen were his interests in these groups that it moved his obituarist (WJS - probably WJ SLOAN) to comment: 'it may be said that he sacrificed his profession to his military and masonic services' (SAAR Dec 1931:129). He held the rank of Major in the Transvaal Scottish Regiment and, as mentioned previously, was commissioned to design their memorial in Johannesburg in about 1922 or 1923. Little work by Conner has yet been identified. At his death he was said to have been the oldest Associate member of the RIBA in the country. He never married and died in considerable penury in Johannesburg, dependant on Freemason support and the Architects' Benevolent Fund.

There is also a listing of this practitioner on the Dictionary of Scottish Architects.

ARIBA 1891; ATA Council 1914. (ARIBA nom papers (1891); Building Mar 1921:437; TAD MHG 77166; RIBA biog file; RIBA Kal 1902/3; SAWW 1908; UTD 1915)

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

Ken Dickinson Printing Works: n.d.. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
Transvaal Scottish War Memorial: 1923. Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
War Memorial: 1921. Boksburg, Gauteng - Architect
War Memorial to the 5th Imperial Yeomanry: 1902. Klerksdorp, North West - Architect