Basic Biographical Details

Name: W & T R Milburn
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1896 or 1897
Ended: 1990(?)
Bio Notes: William and Thomas Milburn were the sons of Captain William Milburn, a shipowner and shipping surveyor in Sunderland.

William Milburn was born in 1858. He was articled to John Tillman of Sunderland and remained as assistant, studying at Sunderland School of Art. He commenced independent practice in Sunderland in 1879 at the early age of twenty-one, but appears from his nomination form to have taken what was probably a short career break to study at the South Kensington Schools in 1880.

Thomas Ridley Milburn was born in 1861 (1862 in Earl & Sell) and articled to John Tillman in 1877. He remained as assistant after the end of his articles but spent some time with Liverpool Corporation before setting up in practice in Sunderland in 1884 independently of his brother. Throughout his time with Tillman and at Liverpool he studied in 'various science and art classes' and passed the qualifying exam in 1886, being admitted ARIBA on 18 April 1887. His proposers were Tillman, Joseph Hall Morton of South Shields and Thomas Oliver of Sunderland, with whose firm he was shortly to become connected. In 1893 Thomas designed the first of his theatres, the Olympia in Newcastle upon Tyne, in association with Oliver & Leeson, and in 1896-97 William and Thomas merged their practices as W & T R Milburn. In the same year they began their association with the Moss Empires circuit by designing the South Shields Empire Palace for which Frank Matcham was consultant, the experience gained there making them the premier theatre firm in the north of England. On 4 January 1904 William and Thomas were both admitted FRIBA, their proposers being William Henry Knowles of Newcastle, John Gibson, also of Newcastle and Alfred William Stephens Cross of London.

The practice was Valuer to the Board of Guardians; Valuer to the Rating and Assessment Committee of Sunderland Corporation and architect to the Sunderland Co-operative Society.

In the following year, 1905, William's son William Junior, born 1885 (1886 in Earl & Sell) was admitted as an apprentice, having previously attended Armstrong College at Newcastle upon Tyne, 1902-05. While an apprentice he studied at the Sunderland Schools of Art & Technology, won the Saxon Snell prize in 1908, passed the qualifying in 1909 and was admitted ARIBA on 28 February 1910, his proposers being William Alfred Pite of London, George Thomas Brown of Sunderland and John Hall also of Sunderland. He won the Godwin bursary in 1910. By that date he had already travelled in France, Belgium, Holland and Germany.

William's younger brother, Stanley Wayman Milburn, born 1888, was educated at Durham University and apprenticed to his father and uncle, 1904-09 and remained as an assistant until 1912 when he became a partner. During that period he studied at the Sunderland Schools of Art and Technology and passed the qualifying exam, being admitted ARIBA on 3 March 1913, his proposers being George Thomas Brown of Sunderland, Henry Clement Charlewood of Newcastle upon Tyne and Hugh Taylor Decimus Hedley if Sunderland.

William Milburn Senior retired about 1931. He died in 1935, his brother Thomas on 5 December 1943. By that date the theatre side of the practice had come to an end with the Southampton Empire in 1929 and major alterations to the South Shields Empire in 1929 and at the Glasgow Empire in 1931 and the New (Apollo) Theatre in Oxford (with T P Bennett) in 1933. Thereafter the Milburns specialised in cinema design but they also had a large general practice. The firm divided in 1947 when Stanley left with one of the firm's assistants, William Eric Dow, to set up his own practice, S W Milburn & Partners. William Junior died in 1953 and Stanley in 1961.

The practice closed in 1990.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 220, Fawcett Street, Sunderland, County Durham, EnglandBusiness1904 *  
Item 2 of 217-18, Fawcett Street, Sunderland, County Durham, EnglandBusinessBefore 1932After 1937 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 11Thomas Ridley Milburn1896 or 1897 Partner 
Item 2 of 11William Milburn1896 or 1897c. 1931Partner 
Item 3 of 11Alexander Robert Meldrum14 May 190012 October 1900Assistant 
Item 4 of 11Stanley Wayman Milburn19041909Apprentice 
Item 5 of 11William Milburn (junior)1905 Apprentice 
Item 6 of 11Stanley Wayman Milburn19091912Assistant 
Item 7 of 11Stanley Wayman Milburn19121947Partner 
Item 8 of 11William Milburn (junior)c. 1920 Partner 
Item 9 of 11Thomas Ruddiman Wood1925Before 1939Assistant 
Item 10 of 11William Eric Dow1927January 1947Assistant 
Item 11 of 11Alastair Stewart Foster1936(?)After 1937AssistantFor 8 months

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 41921Union MillMontrose AngusScotlandConversion
Item 2 of 41922Coliseum Theatre  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 3 of 41927Empire Palace Theatre  EdinburghScotlandRebuilding of Matcham's theatre
Item 4 of 41928Empire Theatre  GlasgowScotlandInternal rebuilding of Matcham's theatre on larger scale and alterations to exterior


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 2British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 2Johnson, Michael and Potts, Graham2014The Architecture of Sunderland 1700-1914 The History Press 

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSInventory of office drawings Information per Graham Potts
Item 2 of 2Tyne & Weir ArchiveMilburn Papers DT.TRM