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JONES, Victor Thomas

Born: 1864 03 07
Died: 1946 05 29


Year registered: 1927

A leading Port Elizabeth architect, Jones practised in Port Elizabeth from about 1901 until his retirement in 1945. He was born in London but was apparently brought up in Wales. In 1882 he was articled to Andrew T Taylor in Finsbury, London and was for a short time assistant to Taylor and to G Baines, FRIBA. He studied construction and design at the Architectural Association, London, where he won the Bronze Medal and studied in the Science and Art Department, South Kensington. For several years he was an architect and designer to AL Liberty of Liberty & Co and carried on a private practice in London. It was probably while he was in private practice that he made the design for a summer cottage for the Undercroft, Niton (?), Isle of Wight, which was illustrated in Academy Architecture and Annual Architectural Review (1893), giving an idea of his style at that date.

In 1896 he came to South Africa for health reasons and went to Johannesburg, where he worked for George WILSON, ARIBA, mainly on domestic buildings; he was elected a member of the Society of Architects (London), South African branch, 1896. According to a note in the RIBA biographical files supplied by JC McWilliams, Jones began practice as a Principal in 1897. After WILSON's death in 1899 Jones bought and carried on the practice. During the Anglo-Boer War he returned to England but came back to South Africa in 1901, entering into partnership with WJ McWILLIAMS in 1901 (cf JONES & McWILLIAMS); the partners left for Port Elizabeth in 1901 where they subsequently established a flourishing practice. Their first office in Port Elizabeth was in the basement of the new library building. Among the early styles favoured by the partners was the Arts and Crafts style which, not unexpectedly in view of Jones's work for Liberty's, had Art Nouveau strains. One such example of this work is the Harbour Board building (completed 1905).

Jones's buildings were frequently illustrated in contemporary architectural and other journals; in particular illustrations of his work in interiors reflect this taste for Arts and Crafts/ Liberty Style. Jones also designed the interiors of several churches. It was largely due to Jones's keen interest in the arts that the Arts Hall, which later became the King George VI Art Gallery, was established in Port Elizabeth. Jones was the assessor of the competition for the Settlers' Memorial Campanile (1920) in which FG McINTOSH's entry was placed first (cf McINTOSH). For various reasons the campanile was finally designed by WJ McWilliams.

Jones was a founder of the Eastern Province Society of Architects and was a founder member and Life President of the Eastern Province Society of Arts and Crafts; he died in Port Elizabeth in 1946, the year after his retirement.

Edward Bottoms, Archivist of the Architectural Association, has provided the following record for Jones' student years:

Was elected a member of the AA in 1883
Won third prize in the category of 'Lectures on the History of Architecture.' (1887/88 session) – for which he would have receive 1 guinea, no medal.
1888/89: won Elementary Class of Ornament and Colour Decoration 2nd prize and Class prize – would have received a guinea each, no medals.
1889/90: won Colour Decoration Prize and Time Sketch Prize: 3 guinea and 1 guinea respectively.
1890/91: won AA Sketchbook Title Page Prize, prize of £5.5s (his design forms cover of AA Sketchbook of that year); Lectures on Construction: 2nd prize – a bronze medal.
(Bottoms, 20??: electronic communication.)

FRIBA 1925; ISAA 1927. (Acad Arch & Annual Arch Rev 1893:116; AB&E Feb 1912:15; AB&E Feb 1921:15; Afr Archt May 1912:214; Bodill 1985, 1986; ISAA mem list; Picton-Seymour 1977; RIBA biog file; SAAE&S Jnl Oct 1905:8-9; SAAR Jul 1946:185 obit)

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

Barclays Bank: 1918. Graaff-Reinet, Eastern Cape - Architect
House VT Jones - Lloc: n.d.. Walmer, Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape - Architect

Books citing JONES

ISAA. 1927. Register of Members the Institute of South African Architects. Johannesburg: ISAA (Unpublished Record). pp J6

McLachlan, Gavin. 1993. The Dream Houses of Mill Park. Port Elizabeth: Department of Architecture, University of Port Elizabeth. pp 24

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1977. Victorian Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: AA Balkema. pp 5, 193-196, 321

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pp 107