The Papers of William Crabtree: the Peter Jones building

William Crabtree graduated from the School of Architecture at the University of Liverpool in 1929, having studied under Professor Charles H. Reilly. His final year thesis was a design for a department store in Oxford Street.  

As a result of Crabtree’s work during his degree, Charles Reilly suggested to his friend John Spedan Lewis, chairman of the John Lewis Partnership, that Crabtree be given the commission to design the new Peter Jones building.

Crabtree’s papers dating from 1933 to 1940, covering the period when Crabtree worked as an architect on the Peter Jones building and Crabtree’s time as a consultant architect for the John Lewis Company, have recently been added to the University Archive.

Print of the Peter Jones building.
CRB/2/7. Print showing the Peter Jones building.

The Peter Jones building is named after Peter Rees Jones (1842–1905), the son of a Carmarthenshire hat manufacturer who developed a flourishing retail business, the success of which was reflected in the five-story red-brick store that stood on the site of the present Peter Jones building. After Peter Jones’s death in 1905, the business faltered and the store was purchased by John Lewis, who handed it over to his son John Spedan Lewis in 1914. 

By the early 1930’s, Spedan realised that Peter Jones, with its old Victorian layout, needed refurbishment. John Slater and Arthur Moberly were appointed as joint architects, together with Crabtree, with Charles Reilly engaged as consultant.

The Peter Jones building, completed in 1939, is celebrated as an example of the Modern Movement in Britain. Crabtree was influenced heavily by leading Modernist designers, having studied Mendelsohn’s Schocken stores in Germany. Peter Jones was the first property in London to use the glass curtain wall effect, creating a fluid exterior, and the interior was illuminated by lightwells.

Letters
CRB/1/2. Examples of letters from manufacturers, including discussions of samples of glass and other materials.

William Crabtree’s papers, donated to Special Collections and archives in November 2019 by Crabtree’s son (Dr. John Crabtree), include correspondence between Crabtree and manufacturing and engineering companies, discussing topics such as the building design and materials, as well as many letters between Crabtree and Charles H. Reilly

Letters from Charles Reilly
CRB/1/3. Examples of correspondence between William Crabtree and Charles Reilly, discussing details of the design of the Peter Jones building, the design of the John Lewis building in Oxford Street, London (never built) and other architectural projects.

Also included are minutes, agenda papers and memorandums from committees governing the development of John Lewis building projects, that offer a fascinating insight into the design and building process.

Building Committee Agenda Papers
CRB/2/2/1. John Lewis Partnerships Building Committee agenda papers.

The catalogue for the papers of William Crabtree is available online.

Richmond, P., ‘Later Architectural Work: 1918–1939’, in Marketing Modernisms: The Architecture and Influence of Charles Reilly (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2001), pp. 162-176.

‘Retail therapy: with sympathy and imagination, a well-loved London landmark has been given a new lease of life by radical alteration and thorough internal revision.’ The Architectural Review, vol. 215, no. 1288, June 2004, p. 88+.

The Graduate papers of Norah Dunphy. Architectural Drawings.

Twenty-eight architectural drawings from Norah Dunphy’s time as a student at the University of Liverpool and in employment in the North-East have recently been added to the University Archive.

Norah Dunphy was a student of the Liverpool School of Architecture. Graduating in 1926, she was the first woman to obtain the degree of Bachelor of Architecture in the country. She studied architecture under Professor Charles Reilly and obtained a first-class certificate in civic design under Professor Abercrombie. Norah Dunphy was also the first woman in the country to be employed as a town planner, appointed as Town Planning Assistant to the Tynemouth and North Shields Corporation in 1931.

The drawings were donated by Norah Dunphy’s daughter, who attended an event organised by the School of Architecture to highlight the achievements of their female graduates ( https://alumni.liv.ac.uk/news/stories/title,1123305,en.html ).

The catalogue for Dunphy’s architectural drawings is available online. If you would like to book an appointment to view these drawings, or if you have material that you wish to donate to the University Archive, please email us at scastaff@liverpool.ac.uk.

International Cat Day

Today we are feline very good in Special Collections and Archives – August 8th 2017 is International Cat Day. As we are cat-loving librarians and archivists, we have selected a taster of our best cat themed items from the Children’s books, Science Fiction Foundation Collections, Cunard Archive, and University Archive fur you to enjoy.

Children’s Literature

SC&A houses more than 7000 pre-First World War children’s books, of which the tale of mischievous cats throughout is a common feature. In The Tale of Tom Kitten, Tom and his siblings Mittens and Moppet play outside in their best clothes, only for them to be stolen by ducks (Oldham 173). Tit, Tiny, and Tittens: The Three White Kittens are a handful, too – they get themselves in all sorts of predicaments (JUV 308:60).

Oldham 173

JUV.308:60

The History of Whittington and His Cat is the feline rags to riches story we are all familiar with. The copy held here in Special Collections is in the form of a chapbook, a small paperback for children which would sell for a cheap price and provide a story with a moral message. This copy also includes the alphabet, allowing children to practice their reading skills from the most basic stage (Oldham 43).

Oldham 43

Science Fiction Foundation Collections

Continuing the theme of children’s literature, the below novel from the Science Fiction collections is written for the young adults audience in the Bantam Action series. In this short novel, robot cats are created to clean-up the city, but are hijacked and used for evil deeds (PR6061.I39.C99 1996). Cats also crop-up regularly in Science Fiction as representation of earth-like normality and domesticity on space ships (for presumably a similar purpose as a ships cat; see below). A personal favorite is Jonesy, Ripley’s ginger tom, from the Alien franchise.

PR6061.I39.C99 1996

Cunard

Cats were commonplace aboard ships for many reasons – they caught vermin, provided comfort to crew, and even predicted storms through their enhanced sensitivity to low pressure environments. Some ships cats have become famous; ‘Unsinkable Sam’, a German cat, survived the sinking of three ships during World War II! From the Cunard archive here, we see below Captain Rostron’s cat and her adorable kittens aboard the Mauretania, from the Cunard Magazine during the mid 1920s (D42/PR5/12).

D42/PR5/12. Cunard Magazine, Vol. 16.

University Archive 

A prominent deposit within the staff papers of the University Archive are the papers of Professor (and Sir) Charles Reilly. One of the most important figures in the history of twentieth-century architecture in Britain, Sir Reilly dominated architectural education and had a profound influence on architectural practice. The below photograph shows Sir Charles Reilly holding a rather uninterested Timoshenko the cat, in the garden of his home in Twickenham during the the World War II era (D938/2/15).

D938/2/15. Photograph by Louise Sedgwick ©

The Special Collections and Archives Cats

From the top left to the bottom right: Audrey and Lilly (Jo Klett, University Archivist), Clara (Katy Hooper, Special Collections Librarian), Chester (Robyn Orr, Library Assistant), Yan, Barry, and Hamilton (Jenny Higham, Special Collections and Archives Manager), and Reginald Ecclefechan (Lucy Evans, Assistant Librarian – Special Collections).

All of these items are available to view right meow in the Special Collections and Archives reading room (except our pet cats – we wish, though…). Please do see our website for more information on visiting us.

Liverpool to London

Several of the library’s Architecture books are currently on loan to the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA):

  1. Drew, Jane, Village Housing In The Tropics. With Special Reference To West Africa (1947)
  2. Fry, Maxwell and Drew, Jane, Tropical  Architecture In The Humid Zone (1956)
  3. Drew, Jane, Architecture For Children (1945)
  4. Fry, Maxwell and Drew, Jane, Architecture and  the environment (1976)
  5. Drew, Jane (ed.), Architect’s year book (1945, 1st ed.; 1947, 2nd ed.; 1949, 3rd ed.)

They have gone on a trip to London to take part in an exhibition at the ICA looking at the work of the British architect Jane Drew.

Specialising in tropical architecture, Drew worked on  several projects in West Africa and India, most notably the design of the city of Chandigarh with her partner Maxwell Fry and Swiss Architect Le Corbusier. Fry, born in Wallasey, was a graduate of the University of Liverpool’s School of Architecture and studied under Professor Charles Reilly.

Running from 12th Feb 2014 to 23rd March 2014, the exhibition includes artwork, books and other objects and will be accompanied by several talks and other related events.
It is part of a long-term research project into New Towns conducted by Inheritance Projects.

For more information, see: http://www.ica.org.uk/whats-on/jane-drew-1911-1996-introduction

Library, University of Ibadan designed by Jane Drew

Library, University of Ibadan designed by Jane Drew