© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Suzanne Swan, great niece of Carless. Sent February 2017 © All rights reserved. Courtesy of Suzanne Swan, great niece of Carless. Sent February 2017 

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Edward Careless (or Carless)
Designation: Architect
Born: 2 December 1881
Died: 24 April 1949
Bio Notes: William Edward Careless was born on 2 December 1881. He was articled to Essex, Nicol & Goodman of Birmingham from 1897 to 1901, studying at Birmingham School of Art under the direction of Professors William Henry Bidlake and Herbert Tudor Buckland. He became a member of the Birmingham Architectural Association in 1899, from which he won a £15 travelling studentship the following year as well as a further prize for architectural sketching. His early sketching tours took him to Tewkesbury in 1898, to Gloucester in 1899, to Wells in 1900 and to Oxford and Burford in 1901, and on each occasion included an exploration of the surrounding district.

After completing his apprenticeship, he remained with Essex, Nicol & Goodman for a year as improver. Thereafter he went to Sheffield to assist Henry Ingle Potter for one year, subsequently moving to London to work first for Sir Alfred Brumwell Thomas for three years, and then for Edward Robert Robson and for John Dunn for eighteen months each. In about 1909 he was engaged by James Thomson, City Architect of Dundee, principally to design the Ward Road and St Roque's Libraries and to complete Coldside Library which had already been designed by Thomson's son Frank.

Careless commenced independent practice in Dundee in 1910, residing at 9 Balgay Avenue, and in the following year designed Netherton of Craigie and Craigiebarns, Dundee, both Arts and Crafts designs of some originality. He assisted in William Gauldie's office as evening and weekend work.

Careless applied for Licentiateship of the RIBA in March 1911, but since the title required the candidate to have attained the age of thirty years, his acceptance had to be delayed. By this time he had visited Lincoln, York, Winchester and Salisbury cathedrals, and had spent a month in Holland, a week in Belgium and a fortnight in Paris and an unspecified period in Normandy. He had been invited to move to Canada by Percy Nobbs. By the time he was finally elected LRIBA on 22 April 1912 - his proposers being Potter, Dunn and Robson - he had left Dundee for Canada, being based at 475 Guy Street, Montreal. It appears to be at this point that he changed his name to Carless. He worked briefly as an assistant to both Ross & MacFarlane and to Nobbs.

In the summer of 1912 he met Philip John Turner (born 1876), who had begun his career in Suffolk before emigrating to Montreal in 1908. In 1913 he and Philip Turner opened an office which remained active until c. 1915. They were based for the following two years at 49 Beaver Hall Hill, Montreal, although in 1914 Carless is also recorded as having a British address at 22 Surrey Street, London. Carless was elected FRIBA in 1915, his proposers being Turner, Percy Erskine Nobbs and Septimus Warwick. At that time he was living at 42 Souvenir Avenue, Montreal. He married in Canada to Iris Langley (Mudge) Carless.

After WWI Carless became a full Professor at McGill University and continued to act as consulting architect to others including Nobbs & Hyde for their design of the McGill Pathological Institute (1923). In about 1922 Carless and his wife visited Brittany and together wrote a travelogue “Two Pilgrims in Brittany” for a Canadian publisher. However the Montreal publisher, Louis Carrier, went bankrupt during the Depression Years and the manuscript lay dormant until it was found in the attic of their house in the Royal Crescent in Bath on Iris’ death in 1964. In 2017 the book is being edited and enhanced with images and is to be published privately in due course.

Carless was a brilliant draughtsman, much sought-after for presentation and graphic work. He was deeply religious and of a very nervous disposition which sometimes resulted in errors ('and careless he was too': Frank Thomson).

Carless returned to London to recommence private practice in 1929, but no references to his work there have been found. He died in Bath, Somerset on 24 April 1949.


i) “The Architecture of French Canada”

ii) “The Arts and Crafts of Canada,”

Both published by McGill University in 1925.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 6Royal Crescent, Bath, Somerset, EnglandPrivate 1964 
Item 2 of 69, Balgay Avenue, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness1910c. March 1911 
Item 3 of 6475, Guy Street, Montreal, CanadaBusinessApril 1912 *Before 1914 
Item 4 of 649, Beaver Hall Hill, Montreal, CanadaBusiness1913 or 19141915 
Item 5 of 622, Surrey Street, London, EnglandPrivate1914 *  
Item 6 of 642, Souvenir Avenue, Montreal, CanadaPrivate1915 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 9Essex, Nicol & Goodman1 January 18971901Apprentice 
Item 2 of 9Essex, Nicol & Goodman19011902Improver 
Item 3 of 9Henry Ingle Potter19021903Assistant 
Item 4 of 9(Sir) Alfred Brumwell Thomas19031906Assistant 
Item 5 of 9Edward Robert Robson1906c. 1907Assistant 
Item 6 of 9John Dunnc. 1907c. 1909Assistant 
Item 7 of 9Gauldie & Hardie1908 or 1909(?)1911 or 1912(?)Assistant 
Item 8 of 9James Thomsonc. 19091910Assistant 
Item 9 of 9Turner & CarlessMid 19131915Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6John Dunn22 April 1912for Licentiateship
Item 2 of 6Percy Erskine Nobbs1915for Fellowship
Item 3 of 6Henry Ingle Potter22 April 1912for Licentiateship
Item 4 of 6Edward Robert Robson22 April 1912for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 6Philip John Turner1915for Fellowship
Item 6 of 6Septimus Warwick1915for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 2J Kenneth NesbittMid 1923for Associateship
Item 2 of 2Arthur PrideauxMid 1923for Associateship

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 6c. 1902The Sheffield ClubSheffield YorkshireEnglandAs assistant
Item 2 of 6c. 1902Workhouse InfirmarySheffield YorkshireEnglandAs assistant
Item 3 of 61909Coldside LibraryHilltown DundeeScotlandAs assistant to James Thomson
Item 4 of 61910St Roques Library  DundeeScotlandAs assistant to James Thomson
Item 5 of 61911Netherton of CraigieWest Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 6 of 61911Ward Road Library and Museum  DundeeScotlandAs assistant to James Thomson


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 1http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/ http://dictionaryofarchitectsincanada.org/  Accessed April 2014. Courtesy of Robert Hill.

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Builder6 May 1949clxxvi p567

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Courtesy of Suzanne Swan, great niece of CarlessInformation sent via 'Contact' page of Dictionary Sent February 2017
Item 2 of 3Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from Frank Thomson and William Sinclair Gauldie
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v22 no1781; F no1576 (microfilm reel 13)


© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Suzanne Swan, great niece of Carless. Sent February 2017 

© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Suzanne Swan, great niece of Carless. Sent February 2017

© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Suzanne Swan, great niece of Carless. Sent February 2017 

© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Suzanne Swan, great niece of Carless. Sent February 2017