Basic Biographical Details

Name: Simpson & Allen
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1887
Ended: Before 1912
Bio Notes: John William Simpson was born in Scotland in 1858, the son of Thomas Simpson, architect, but was brought up in Brighton. He was articled to his father in 1875 but by 1878 had moved to 144 Finborough Road, London, to study at the RA Schools under R Phené Spiers, with, in the words of his fellow student Walter Millard, the object of making 'his own way in the world as quickly as possible', and found 'a market … for his powers as an able and hard working draughtsman'.

In 1881 he was taken into partnership by the much older Michael Prendergast Manning, a dissenting United Reform Church architect with an office at 6 Mitre Court Chambers, Temple, and while there he passed the qualifying exam. He was admitted ARIBA on 6 November of that year, his proposers being Spiers, Joseph Douglass Matthews and Thomas Henry Watson, with whom he may have found some employment while at the Schools. By that date he had travelled in France and Belgium.

In 1884 the partnership with Manning was dissolved and in 1887 Simpson formed another partnership with a fellow student at the RA Schools, Edmund John Milner Allen, who was slightly younger, born 1859 or 1860, and the son of the painter John Milner Allen. He had won the Schools' Silver Medal in 1880, and had been articled to William Warlow Gwyther 1876-80. Thereafter he had been assistant to Thomas William Cutler. The purpose of this partnership appears to have been to enter major competitions in which they had a fair degree of success, coming third in the Edinburgh Municipal Buildings Competition and first in that for the City Hospital in Liverpool, both in 1887, followed by firsts for the Victoria Institute, Worcester, 1890; Glasgow Art Gallery, 1891; and Manchester Royal Infirmary, 1896.

Milner Allen's health failed and he died in 1912. Some years prior to that event, in 1905, Simpson had taken into partnership Ormrod Maxwell Ayrton - it is unclear whether the partnership with Milner Allen had been dissolved by that time.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 210 New Inn, Strand, London, EnglandBusinessBefore 18941899 or 1900 
Item 2 of 23 Verulam Buildings, Gray's Inn, London, EnglandBusiness1899 or 1900After 1914 

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 4(Sir) John William Simpson1887Before 1912Partner 
Item 2 of 4Edmund John Milner Allen1887Before 1912Partner 
Item 3 of 4Alfred Herbert FosterAfter 1895Before 1902Assistant 
Item 4 of 4Colvin Tyler Armstrong1901Before 1910Assistant 

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice 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 81887City Hospital  LiverpoolEnglandFirst premiated competition design
Item 2 of 81890Victoria InstituteWorcester WorcestershireEnglandWon competition and secured job
Item 3 of 81891Glasgow Art Gallery and MuseumKelvingrove GlasgowScotlandWon competition - appointed as architects in 1892
Item 4 of 81896Manchester Royal Infirmary: Piccadilly site  ManchesterEnglandWon competition
Item 5 of 81897Town Hall  CardiffWalesUnsuccessful competition design
Item 6 of 81898Roedean SchoolBrighton East SussexEnglandMain building, chapel, sanatorium, art school and library
Item 7 of 81899Cartwright Memorial HallBradford YorkshireEnglandWon design competition (£150 premium)
Item 8 of 81904 or 1905Victoria InstituteWorcester WorcestershireEnglandAlterations? - unclear whether under firm of Simpson & Allen or Simpson & Ayrton


Currently, there are no references for this architectural practice. The information has been derived from: the British Architectural Library / RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914; Post Office Directories; and/or any sources listed under this individual's works.