Basic Biographical Details

Name: Ernest Seel
Designation: Architect
Born: 13 August 1908
Died: November 1971
Bio Notes: Ernest Seel was born on 13 August 1908 in Beeston, Leeds. He was educated at Hunslet Grammar School and studied part-time initially at Leeds School of Architecture and later full-time. He was a pupil assistant to Kirk & Tomlinson in Leeds from 1925-28. In 1930 he obtained office training with Messrs Kitson, Parish, Ledgard & Pyman. He was exempted from the final qualifying exam and was admitted ARIBA in 1931, his proposers being John James Joass, B R Gribbon and F A Foggett.

In 1931 he moved to London where he had various jobs. In April 1931 he started in the office of John James Joass. Seel worked on the Abbey National Headquarters, the design for which Joass was responsible. Seel was, in particular, involved with work on the dome over the central tower of the building. He also while in London worked as assistant architect to the Metropolitan Police Architect. From 1935 he lived at Harrow Weald Middlesex, later moving to Pinner, Middlesex where he was to remain for the rest of his life.

During the years 1931 to 1938 he travelled and undertook post-graduate study in England; he also spent some time teaching in one or more of the recognised schools of architecture and a school of art.

At some point prior to 1939 Seel formed a partnership with his former fellow student at Leeds, Donald Dex Harrison, the practice address at first being 38 Holland Villas Road, Kensington, London. By 1939 he was practising in Watford. He entered the competition for the Waverley Market Exhibition Halls jointly with Donald Dex Harrison and they were awarded first premium of 500 guineas, though further details of the partnership are not yet known. Only Seel's name appears in the competition results. The Second World War interrupted this job and although modified designs was produced by Seel and Harrison after the War in 1948 and 1949, the work was never executed. It is known that Seel & Harrison entered other competitions together, namely that for housing at The Inch, Edinburgh for Edinburgh Town Council (the result for which is not known) and that for housing at Pimlico, London for which they were highly commended.

During the War Seel continued to practice, producing designs for Boosey & Hawkes' factory at Hendon, Middlesex, including a concrete shell roofed workshop for eight hundred and forty workers. He was elected FRIBA in 1952, his proposers being Edward D Mills, Herbert Kenchington and Thomas M Scott. Mills remakred in his reference for Seel on his Fellowship Nomination paper that the Hemel Hempstead school was an interesting example of sensitive use of the 'modular construction appl;ied to a school building' and that the building was of architectural merit and fitted in with the landscape. The partnership with Harrison was dissolved in the later 1950s and Seel was appointed one of the four schools'architects of Middlesex County Council. On the formation of the Greater London Council in 1968, he became the Schools' Architect for Hillingdon Borough Council.

From starting to practice in 1938 until at least 1952 and probably after he exhibited regularly at the RA and New English Art Club.

By 1967 Seel's address was given as Church Cottage, Church Lane, Pinner, Middlesex. Seel was married (his wife's name was Anne) and they had two sons, David who was to become an environmental scientist and John who was to become a civil engineer. John's son, David, followed his grandfather into architecture and now works [2007] for Malcolm Fraser Architects, Edinburgh.

Ernest Seel died in November 1971.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 7153, Strathford Street, Brestonhill, Leeds, EnglandPrivate1931  
Item 2 of 740, St James Place, London, EnglandBusiness1931 Address of J J Joass
Item 3 of 7Harrow Weald, Middlesex, ScotlandBusiness1935  
Item 4 of 710, Park Road, Watford, Hertfordshire, EnglandBusiness1939 *  
Item 5 of 738, Holland Villas Road, Kensington, London, EnglandPrivate/business(?)c. 1952  
Item 6 of 734, Holland Park Road, London, EnglandPrivate/business(?)c. 1952  
Item 7 of 7Church Cottage, Church Lane, Pinner, Middlesex, EnglandBusiness(?)1967 *  

* 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 1Harrison & Seel1938Late 1950sPartner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6F A Foggett17 September 1931For Associateship
Item 2 of 6B R Gribbon17 September 1931For Associateship
Item 3 of 6John James Joass17 September 1931For Associateship
Item 4 of 6Herbert Kenchington16 July 1952For Fellowship
Item 5 of 6Edward D Mills16 July 1952For Fellowship
Item 6 of 6Thomas M Scott16 July 1952For Fellowship

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 8c. 1936Kincorth Competition   ScotlandPlan of estate - perhaps competition entry?
Item 2 of 81938Houses, The InchNether Liberton EdinburghScotlandCompetition design?
Item 3 of 81939Exhibition Halls, Waverley Market  EdinburghScotlandWon compeititon - in association with T M Cartledge, engineer (500gs). Also with Donald Dex Harrison, although his name does not appear in competition results.
Item 4 of 8c. 1951Festival of Britain, new theatre and other buildings, Battersea Park  LondonEnglandActing as chief architects to the Festival Gardens, Battersea.
Item 5 of 8Before 1952Baildon Fernhurst County Primary SchoolShipley YorkshireEngland 
Item 6 of 8Before 1952Baldock West Infants School  HertfordshireEngland 
Item 7 of 8Before 1952Boosey & Hawkes' offices, stores, workshops and canteenEdgware MiddlessexEnglandOn his own not in partnership with Donald Dex Harrison.
Item 8 of 8Before 1952Southill SchoolHemel Hempstead HertfordshireEngland 


Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Scotsman3 November 1939   
Item 2 of 2Scotsman3 December 1946   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Courtesy of John and David SeelInformation via DSA website Sent May 2007
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no 4799; F no4742 (Combined Box 33)