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Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||James Wylson |
|Designation: ||Architect, Engineer |
|Born: ||1811 |
|Died: ||6 January 1870 |
|Bio Notes: ||James Wylson was born in Glasgow in 1811 and articled to John Weir of Glasgow c.1827, remaining with him as an assistant for four years and writing ‘The Practical Architect’ published in 1836. In that year when he moved to Norwich as assistant to John Brown, shortly thereafter moving to London where he became senior clerk to Sydney Smirke with whom he remained until 1843. On 1 September 1842 he founded the Association of Architectural Draughtsmen in conjunction with the brothers W B and James Colling, J Drayton Wyatt, William Young (of Manchester), Charles Jayne and E C Sayer, who was its secretary. Wylson himself was its first president. It met in Jayne’s rooms in Southampton Street Strand and its first exhibition in 1845 was attended by Charles Barry. But on leaving Smirke’s, Wylson himself had commenced practice in York, having worked there for Smirke on the Minster, moving to Glasgow by 1846 as a result of winning the competition for Lumsden’s Model Dwellings in New City Road and obtaining the commission for the Prince’s Theatre Royal. |
While in Glasgow Wylson designed two large warehouses and a church; but his competition win for the layout of Gilmorehill in 1848 did not materialise into actual building and his 'Remarks on Workmen's Houses in Town Districts' published in 1848, does not seem to have attracted further business. In 1850 he moved back to London as senior assistant to Charles Barry, a post he combined with the part-time Surveyorship of the National Freehold Land Society; and about 1860 he obtained further surveyorships, first that of the Conservative Land Society, and then that of the United Land Company Limited, enabling him to recommence full independent practice in London.
Wylson recommenced independent practice in London some time before 1860 when he became surveyor to the National Freehold Land Society and subsequently to the Conservative Land Society and the United Land Company Ltd.
Wylson was and excellent mathematician and interested in all the technical aspects of building. He was one of the earliest contributors to ‘The Builder’, on Mortar and Cements in 1844; on timber and the restorations of York Minster in 1845; and acoustics in 1850. In 1855 Wylson put forward the second serious proposal for a Channel Tunnel. His proposal was for a 'floating' tunnel to be buoyed at a uniform depth. In 1859 he published 'The Mechanical Inventor's Guide' and thereafter was the author of many of the articles in the Architectural Publication Society's Dictionary.
Wylson died in London on 6 January 1870, and was buried at Brompton Cemetery. The London architect Oswald Cane Wylson (1858-1925) was his son; as he was only eleven when his father died, he was articled to Arthur Cates in 1873. Oswald's son, Duncan (1908-1962), was 17 when his father died. He was also an architect and practised in London and Sussex. He died when his son, John, was only 13; he also trained and works as an architect. Another great-grandson was Anthony (1932-2006) senior partner in the London practice of Wylson & Waterson, and author of several architectural works. His widow, Patricia, and daughter, Marianne, also practise and work as architects.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect, engineer:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|York, Yorkshire, England||Business||c. 1845||c. 1845|| |
|Glasgow, Scotland||Business||c. 1845||Before 1850|| |
|London, England||Business||Before 1850||1870|| |
Employment and Training
|The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect, engineer (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|John Weir||c. 1827||c. 1832||Apprentice|| |
|John Weir||c. 1832||1836||Assistant|| |
|John Brown||1836||Before 1843||Assistant|| |
|Sydney Smirke||Before 1843||c. 1845||Senior Clerk|| |
|(Sir) Charles Barry||Before 1850||Before 1860||Assistant|| |
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect, engineer:|
|APSD|| ||The Dictionary of Architecture||ed Wyatt Papworth||The Architectural Publication Society (8v 1852-1892)||Biographical note and Glasgow entry|
|Gildard, Thomas||1895||An Old Glasgow Architect on some Older Ones||XXVI||Proceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow|| |
|Summerson, John|| ||The Architectural Association, 1847-1947|| || ||Contains portrait of Wylson.|
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect, engineer:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||15 January 1870|| || ||Obituary|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect, engineer:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Courtesy of John Wylson, great grandson of James Wylson, architect and civil engineer.||Information via website|| ||Sent March 2008. |
Mr Wylson has papers relating to his great grandfather and hopes to go through them at some point after he retires.
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