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Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||George Corson |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||1829 |
|Died: ||17 November 1910 |
|Bio Notes: ||George Corson was born in Dumfries in 1829, the fourth son of James Corson of Cassylands and Stakeford, Provost of Dumfries 1831-22, and his wife Janet Reid from Kirkennan. His father died in 1836 when George was seven, but his widow and family appear to have been left comfortably off and his education at Dumfries Academy was guided by his much older brother William Reid Corson. |
In 1844 George joined his brother William in the office of Walter Newall about 1844. At the end of his articles in 1849 he moved to Leeds where William had established a partnership with Edward La Trobe Bateman after they had both spent a period in Owen Jonesís office in 1847. Batemanís stay in Leeds was brief and the practice was thereafter conducted in the name of W R Corson only until 1860. George was initially his assistant: it is not clear in which year he became a partner, but from the mid-1850s he had a significant design role. In 1855 William took over John Edgar Greganís practice in Manchester after Greganís sudden death in April: like the Corsons, Gregan came from Dumfries and had been a pupil of Walter Newall. William took over Greganís office at 20 Cooper Street, thereafter dividing his time between Leeds and Manchester where their elder brother James had successfully established himself in cotton.
In 1860 William moved permanently to Manchester leaving George in charge of the Leeds office at 5 South Parade but after a few years the practices were separated completely. George had a hugely successful practice in churches, warehouses, insurance offices and breweries proving himself equally adept inn Ruskinian Romanesque, gothic, Italian Renaissance and Scottish baronial, and after the passing of the Education Act on 1870, a substantial clientele in the newly formed school boards. By 1871 he had moved to a larger office 13 Cookridge Street, moving again to number 25 about 1876.
In that same year, 1876, Corson was a founder member of the Leeds Architectural Association Ė later the Leeds & Yorkshire Architectural Society Ė and was elected its first president in January 1877,but he seems to have resisted Charles Barry Juniorís recruiting campaign, exhibiting at the Royal Academy by never seeking membership of the RIBA. From 1873 he had some success in competitions winning those for Roundhay Park (1873), Leeds Municipal and School Board offices (1876) and the Leeds Infirmary extension (1891). His greatest success came in 1880 when he won the competition for Glasgow Municipal Buildings, in association with his brother, and on the assumption that he would be commissioned to build it and open a Glasgow office, he built a Scottish holiday houses Carn Dreag at Gairloch, Wester Ross in that year.
The design for the Municipal buildings had superimposed orders similar to those of the leeds offices, but on a far grander scale. It was, in the assessor Charles Barry's view, the best design which could be built within the sum set for the project.
In the event he lost the municipal buildings to a second competition, but Carn Dreag remained a much visited holiday home for the rest of his life. He remained in full time practice until 1901 when his pupil Walter Evan took over, remaining consultant to Tetleyís breweries until 1904. His assistants included at least two from Dumfries: first James Robinson Watson who joined him in 1859 and became his chief assistant in 1877. He became an expert in theatre construction and oversaw the construction of the Grand Theatre, but died in post in 1887; and secondly Thomas Corson from Dumfries, either a younger brother or a nephew who seems never to have had his own practice.
In his earlier years Corson lived a bachelor existence in his brother Williamís household. Still unmarried he built a picturesque cottagey villa of his own in 1871, Dunearn, Wood Lane, published in the British Architectís Architectsí Homes series (11 January 1874). In 1882 at the age of 53, he married Harriet Mary Gough, the daughter of Alexander Reid, a Bengal Army surgeon, the wedding ceremony being held in Bath. They had three sons, none of whom became architects. In 1897 the Corsons moved to Ballamona, Shire Road, Headingley.
Within the office, however were two further members of the Corson family, George's nephew James who left for Bath, and Thomas whose relationship to William and George is not yet known. In 1885 William left Manchester for Santa Monica, California, seemingly because of the recession, but relations remained close, George reading three papers by him to the Leeds Architectural Association.
The Corsons moved from Dunearn to Ballamona, a larger house in headingley in 1897. Corson's practice was taken over by his one-time assistant Walter Evan Jones in 1901 under the title of Corson & Jones, Corson retaining his role as advisor to Tetley's Brewery until 1904.
In 1908 the Corsons moved to a smaller house, 14 Woodpark Road, Headingley , where he died on 17 November 1910. He was buried at Woodlands Cemetery.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|3, Albion Place, Leeds, England||Business||1849|| || |
|10, Lyddon Place, Leeds, England||Private||1849|| || |
|5, South Parade, Leeds, Yorkshire, England||Business||c. 1851 *||1871|| |
|13, Cookridge Street, Leeds, Yorkshire, England||Business||1871||1876|| |
|Dunearn, Headingley, Leeds, England||Private||1873||1897|| |
|25, Cookridge Street, Leeds, Yorkshire, England||Business||1876||1901|| |
|Cara Dearg, Gairloch, Wester Ross, England||Private||1880||1910|| |
|Ballymona, Headingley, Leeds, England||Private||1897||1908|| |
|14, Woodpark Road, Headingley, Leeds, England||Private||1908||1910|| |
* 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):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|Walter Newall||c. 1844||1849||Apprentice|| |
|Bateman & Corson||1849||1849||Assistant|| |
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|J R Watson||1859|| ||Assistant|| |
|George Bertram Bulmer||After 1870||Before 1877||Assistant|| |
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 started||Building name||Town, district or village||Island||City or county||Country||Notes|
|1880||Cara Dreag||Gairloch|| ||Ross & Cromarty||Scotland|| |
|1880||Glasgow Municipal Buildings|| || ||Glasgow||Scotland||First competition: design placed first (£750 premium) but competition result abandoned. Competition won in George's name.|
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Architects Engineers and Building Trades Directory||1868||Architect's, Engineer's and Building Trades' Directory|| ||London, Wyman|| |
|Linstrum, Derek|| ||West Yorkshire Architects and Architecture|| || || |
|Webster, Chris (ed.)||2011||Building a Great Victorian City: Leeds Architects and Architecture 1790-1914|| ||Jeremy Mills Publishing|| |
|Wilson, T B||1937||Two Leeds Architects: Cuthbert Brodrick and George Corson|| || || |
|Wrathmell, Susan||2011||George Corson 1829-1910|| ||Webster, Christopher (ed) Building a Great victorian City: Leeds Architects and Architecture 1790-19|| |
© All rights reserved. Building News 1 August 1890