|Bio Notes: ||William Cubitt & Co was a London-based firm of contractors which undertook design work and had a large drawing office. |
The business had its origin in the partnership of Thomas, William and Lewis Cubitt. They were the sons of Jonathan Cubitt, a farmer at Coltishall, Norfolk, and his wife Agnas (sic) Scarlett. Thomas was born on 25 February 1788, William in 1791 and Lewis in September 1799. On his father's death in 1806 Thomas made a single return voyage to India as a ship's carpenter and saved enough money to set up business as a joiner in Holborn, London. He made his name with the re-roofing of the London Institution which yielded enough profit for him to build speculatively in Chiswick. In 1815 he secured the contract for the London Institution for which he reorganised his business on an all-trades basis. Thereafter he and his brother William, his partner from that year, undertook the development of Lord Calthorpe's estate in Bloomsbury, followed by developments in Highbury; Stoke Newington; the Bedford and Southampton estates in Bloomsbury; and the Grosvenor and Loundes estates in the West End. Over the next decade the business gradually became two divisions, Thomas being responsible for the speculative house-building and William for the contract work; and from 1824 the youngest brother, Lewis, was also a partner, the firm being known as T, W & L Cubitt - or simply Messrs Cubitts.
In 1827 William separated the contract side of the business from his brother's, retaining their Gray's Inn Lane Yard and a staff of some 700 men, thus founding the firm which was to become William Cubitt & Co. Thomas and their younger brother Lewis then became T & L Cubitt, builders, first at Pimlico and then at Eaton Place. But by June 1831 Lewis had withdrawn from his partnership with Thomas and joined William, perhaps because he foresaw the financial crisis which was to cause Thomas serious difficulty in 1833. The new partnership of William and Lewis undertook the contracts for Henry Roberts's Fishmongers' Hall, Charles Fowler's Covent Garden Market and other works on the Bedford estates in London, but by the later 1830s Lewis had begun to withdraw from the partnership to practise solely as an architect specialising in railway work. All of these changes seem to have been amicable, the brothers remaining mutually supportive when necessary.
From 1842 William Cubitt developed Cubitt Town on the Isle of Dogs, a development which in sheer scale rivalled those of his elder brother. By 1844 he had taken two partners, the firm being briefly William Cubitt, Plucknett & Co c.1850-51. Its main business consisted of West End palaces, notably Henry Hope's mansion on Piccadilly, Dorchester House and Hertford House where they were their own architects. In 1852 they were appointed official carpenters to the Board of Works, undertaking the stands and other work required for the Duke of Wellington's funeral in that year.
In 1854 Cubitt retired from his firm which continued as William Cubitt & Co, the catalyst being the death in that year of his only son, by then a partner in the firm. Thereafter he devoted himself to public work as MP for Andover (from 1847) and as Lord Mayor of London in 1860-61. He died in 1863, but the business was continued in his name by Plucknett, who attended to the building side and William R Rogers (born Rodriguez) who was responsible for the design side, notably at 5 Hamilton Place, Piccadilly (1879-81) for Leopold de Rothschild and Halton, Buckinghamshire (1882-8) for Alfred Charles de Rothschild. The business was taken over by Holland & Hannen in 1883, thereafter being known as Holland Hannen & Cubitts. Rogers remained with the firm to complete Halton.