Basic Biographical Details

Name: Thomas Ridley Milburn
Designation: Architect
Born: 18 October 1862
Died: 6 November 1943
Bio Notes: Thomas Ridley Milburn (known familiarly as 'TR') was the son of Captain William Milburn, a shipowner and shipping surveyor in Sunderland and was born in 1861. Like his brother William he was articled to John Tillman of Sunderland. 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 and Newcastle, 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 1907 they supervised the buildings of the Sunderland Empire Theatre (the design was by Frank Matcham) for Frank Thornton, a local impressario, and this gave them the connection to the Empire chain as Thornton became manager of the chain and used his local architects for theatres elsewhere. Their major works included: Sunderland Children's Hospital, Sunderland Police Courts and Fire Station, theatres for the Moss Brothers at Sunderland, Cardiff, Liverpool, Glasgow and Edinburgh and the Dominion Theatre in London; also many hospitals, schools, housing schemes, commercial and factory buildings.

He was admitted FRIBA on 4 January 1904, their proposers being William Henry Knowles of Newcastle, John Gibson, also of Newcastle (unclear who this is) and Alfred William Stephens Cross of London. Thomas Milburn was largely responsible for forming the branches of the Northern Architectural Association, being President of the latter 1921-22. He was vice president of the RIBA 1925-26.

Both Thomas Ridley Milburn and his brother William were brought up as Wesleyans but Thomas joined the Church of England's Bishopwearmouth congregation.

He died on 6 November 1943.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 117-18, Fawcett Street, Sunderland, County Durham, EnglandBusiness1932 *  

* 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 4Liverpool City Architect's Department  Assistant 
Item 2 of 4John Tillman  Apprentice 
Item 3 of 4John Tillman  Assistant 
Item 4 of 4W & T R Milburn1896 or 1897 Partner 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2Joseph Spain18871892Apprentice 
Item 2 of 2Joseph Spain18921895Assistant 


RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3William Eric DowLate 1932for Associateship
Item 2 of 3Alastair Stewart Foster19 July 1937for Associateship
Item 3 of 3Thomas Ruddiman Wood30 November 1925for 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 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


Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1RIBA JournalDecember 1943 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary p42

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material  
Item 2 of 2Tyne & Weir ArchiveMilburn Papers DT.TRM Additional information from Graham Potts