Basic Biographical Details

Name: Philip Coldwell Thicknesse
Designation: Architect
Born: 28 January 1860
Died: 23 February 1920
Bio Notes: Born on 28 January 1860 at Deane Vicarage, Bolton, Lancashire, Philip Coldwell Thicknesse was the third son of the Right Rev Francis Henry Thicknesse DD (né Coldwell)) who had changed his name by royal license on 29 March 1859, following his marriage to Ann Thicknesse in Clitheroe on 3 July 1855.

Francis Henry Coldwell (1829- 1921) was ordained in 1853 and was Vicar of Deane, from 1855 until 1868. In 1875 he became archdeacon of Northampton and Canon Residentiary of Peterborough Cathedral, a post he held until 1920. Between 1888 and 1903 he was the inaugural Suffragan Bishop of Leicester. Ann Thicknesse, (1831-1886) was the daughter and sole heir of Ralph Anthony Thicknesse, MP for Wigan, and a supporter of Villiers and Cobden in the Free Trade Movement of 1848. She was the last surviving member of the Thicknesse family who had held the same manor at Balterley on the borders of Cheshire and Staffordshire for over 500 years before its sale in the mid-seventeenth century, when the family moved to Lancashire.

Philip Thickness was educated at Marlborough School before entering the office of Richard Norman Shaw. In 1884 he entered into partnership with William E Willink and remained so for nearly thirty-six years, until the time of his death. The practice developed strong connections with the expanding shipping companies and an increasingly large proportion of their work was in the design of ship’s interiors, over twenty liners being fitted out beginning with RMS Franconia in 1910. In 1911 Willink and Thicknesse were appointed architects for perhaps their most significant building - the Cunard Building, on Liverpool’s waterfront. Professor S D Adshead described it as “one of the finest buildings erected in this country for many years. It is an instance of a building of extraordinary scientific attainment combined with the highest artistic quality.” Willink also remarked about Philip Thicknesse “To him and not me is to be attributed the greater part of such credit as belongs to this structure.”

On 28 April 1891 at St Mary Abbots, Kensington, he married Clara Margaret (Daisy) Oakley, daughter of John Oakley, Dean of Manchester and sister of Frank Page Oakley, architect of Manchester.

Philip Coldwell Thicknesse died of pneumonia on 23 February 1920 at his residence, The Cottage, Eastham, where he had lived for several years prior to his death. and was buried at the parish church of St Mary, Eastham on 24 February 1920. He was survived by his wife and father.

Eastham church contains two memorials to Philip Thicknesse. His tombstone, in the form of an Italian sarcophagus (and in concept taken from a sketch for a tombstone made by Philip Thicknesse himself some years earlier), was cut from a solid block of Portland stone; the lettering sunk with a " V " cut and enamelled black. The memorial tablet, on the north wall of the Stanley Chapel, is of white alabaster, the lettering again sunk with a V " cut and gilded. The architect for both was Harold A. Dod, MA, ARIBA. Following training at Liverpool University, Harold Dod joined Willink & Thicknesse in 1912 as an assistant architect, but in 1914 he was commissioned in the King’s Regiment, serving in France. At the end of the war he returned to Liverpool and rejoined Willink and Thicknesse in their new offices in the Cunard Building. In 1920 on the death of Philip Thicknesse he was invited to partnership with Willink, the style of the practice changing to Willink and Dod. On the death of William Edward Willink four years later, Dod became the sole partner.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2The Cottage, Eastham, Cheshire, EnglandPrivatec. 19141920 
Item 2 of 2Cunard Building, Brunswick Street, Pier Head, Liverpool, EnglandBusinessc. 1918  

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 3Richard Norman Shawc. 1875c. 1880Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3Richard Norman Shawc. 1880c. 1884Assistant 
Item 3 of 3Willink & Thicknesse18841920Partner 


RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3John Murray27 February 1911for Licentiateship
Item 2 of 3William Patterson20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 3 of 3Thomas John Miller ReidEarly 1911for Licentiateship

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 7After 1903HMS Hildebrand, ship interior    Alterations
Item 2 of 7After 1903Liverpool University, Physical Chemistry Laboratory  LiverpoolEngland 
Item 3 of 7After 1903Peterborough Cathedral, chancel screenPeterborough CambridgeshireEngland 
Item 4 of 7After 1903Shrewsbury School, speech hallShrewsbury ShropshireEngland 
Item 5 of 71910Liverpool School of Art  LiverpoolEnglandExtension to Hope Street
Item 6 of 71910RMS Franconia, ship interior     
Item 7 of 71911Cunard BuildingPier Head LiverpoolEngland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 1British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914