Basic Biographical Details

Name: Thomas Turner
Designation: Architect, Engineer
Born: Before 1820
Died: 1891
Bio Notes: Thomas Turner was born in Dublin shortly before 1820, probably the second son of the ironfounders and glass-house specialist Richard Turner and his wife Jane Goodshaw. His elder brother, Richard, was born in 1817. He was articled in that city to the Welsh architect Jacob Owen, architect to the Board of Works, probably c.1835, but moved to Belfast in the early 1840s as senior assistant to Charles Lanyon, County Surveyor of Antrim, and remained with him for ten years.

Turner first came into prominence in 1841 when he and his father produced a competition design for the Crystal Palace which attracted wide publicity. Turner commenced independent practice in that year at 8-9 Donegal Place, Belfast, attempted to form a partnership with Thomas Jackson but negotiations broke down and in 1861 he formed a partnership with Richard Williamson, County Surveyor of Derry as Turner & Williamson which brought an office in Londonderry, and then extended the partnership to include Thomas Drew, born 1838 and a pupil of Charles Lanyon and in 1861 based in Belfast. In the same year, 1861, he opened a Glasgow office at 204 West George Street to deal with a large commission for the Houldsworths at Coltness, Lanarkshire but retained his interest in the Irish partnership at the same time. According to the draft indenture of his partnership the arrangement left Turner free to reside in Glasgow provided he visited the Belfast office for about a week each month. The Glasgow office was kept separate from the Belfast and Londonderry practices and continued until 1871 but its main business seems to have been as an agency for his father's greenhouses.

The partnership with Drew was dissolved in 1865 and that with Williamson ended with the latter's death in 1874. He then went into partnership with a civil engineer, Hume Babbington, and was appointed County Surveyor of North County Dublin in 1883.

Turner died unmarried in 1891. He was an accomplished neo-classical and Italian Renaissance designer but rather less successful in Scots baronial and neo-Jacobean. He was described by Robert Young, who shared an office with him as a good looking amiable man, easy and well-bred and 'a favourite at once in any company he entered'.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect, engineer:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3Dublin, EirePrivateBefore 1820Early 1840sPlace of birth
Item 2 of 38-9, Donegal Street, Belfast, Northern IrelandPrivate1841  
Item 3 of 3204, West George Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness18611871 

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect, engineer (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 5Jacob Owenc. 1835(?) Apprentice 
Item 2 of 5Charles Lanyonc. 1840c. 1850Senior Assistant 
Item 3 of 5Turner & Drew18611865Partner 
Item 4 of 5Turner & Williamsonc. April 1861 Partner 
Item 5 of 5Turner & BabbingtonAfter 1874 Partner 

Buildings and Designs

This architect, engineer 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 41861Coltness HouseWishaw LanarkshireScotland 
Item 2 of 41865Bolton Town HallBolton LancashireEnglandCompetition design - placed second
Item 3 of 41866Manchester Exchange  ManchesterEnglandCompetition design - unplaced
Item 4 of 4c. 1880Glasgow Municipal Buildings  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design entered under Mottoes only.


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect, engineer:
Item 1 of 3Dixon, Hugh and Rowan, Alastair1973The architecture of Thomas Turner Country Life, 24 May 1973 
Item 2 of 3Hix, John The glasshouse  For Richard Turner
Item 3 of 3Kohlmaier, Georg and von Sartory, Barna1981Houses of Glass  For Richard Turner