Basic Biographical Details

Name: Paxton & Hill
Born: c. 1928
Bio Notes: Norval Rowallan Paxton formed a partnership which Henry Erskine Hill in about 1928. They had met whilst fellow assistants in the office of G F Bowman in Leeds.

Norval Rowallan Paxton was born on 2 June 1895 and was articled to William Daniel McLennan of Paisley on 1 June 1909, attending classes at Paisley Technical College. He studied at Glasgow School of Architecture in 1913-14 and on completion of his apprenticeship on 6 March 1914 he entered the office of Thomson & Menzies as draughtsman, moving to that of Watson & Salmond on 20 September 1914. He enlisted in the armed forces on 1 January 1916 and served in France, Egypt and Germany during the First World War.

After his demobilisation, on 1 June 1919, he returned to the same office, by then Watson, Salmond & Gray, for nine months before moving to that of Sandy & Norris of Stafford, Manchester & Birmingham as chief draughtsman on 20 March 1920. A year later he joined G F Bowman & Son of Leeds.

He passed the qualifying exam in December/January 1922-23, and was admitted ARIBA in mid-1923, his proposers being John Watson, David Salmond and Sydney Decimus Kitson. Watson's supporting statement describes him as a 'careful and conscientious assistant' and, since the war, 'a hard worker in spite of the unsettling influence of war service'.

Henry Erskine Hill (‘Harry Hill’) was born on 11 April 1902 in Glasgow and was baptised on 8 May 1902 by his father, also Henry Erskine Hill, who was incumbent at St George’s Episcopal Church there. The family moved to Aberdeen when Erskine Hill senior took up the position of rector to St Andrews Church, the status of which was to be raised to Cathedral. In 1914 Erskine Hill senior became the first Provost. In this post he became familiar with William Kelly who was advisor to the Diocese on the building of a new cathedral for Aberdeen. Through this connection Harry Hill became articled to Kelly & Nicol of Aberdeen in 1920.

After eighteen months in the office of Kelly & Nicol, he commenced full-time study at Aberdeen School of Architecture, transferring to Leeds to complete the five-year course. It can only be speculated as to why he moved to Leeds but there was perhaps some kind of disagreement between Kelly and his father which may have put the younger Hill in a difficult position. Hill’s address after the move was The Vicarage, Horbury, Wakefield which was the home of his uncle, Rev E B Hill, who was vicar of Horbury and was elevated to the Canonry of Wakefield in 1923. Thereafter Harry Hill spent a year in the office of G F Bowman & Son in Leeds to complete his apprenticeship, taking the final exam in Leeds in July 1926. He passed the Professional Practice exam in London a year later and left Bowman's office to take up an appointment as assistant to Harry Wilson, also of Leeds. He was still in the latter office when he was admitted ARIBA on 5 December 1927, his proposers being Percy Robinson, James Parish and Thomas Butler Wilson, all of Leeds. His nomination papers state that he had spent six weeks measuring in France and Italy in summer 1925.

In 1928 Hill junior formed a partnership with Norval Rowallan Paxton who specialised in church buildings. It is not yet clear exactly when Paxon had set up in practice on his own account in Leeds. His practice was mainly commercial and domestic, though he extecuted 'several nursing homes, halls and memorials'. He had a particular interest in the Presbyterian Church in England scheme of extension. In about 1928 when he formed the partnership with Henry Erskine Hill, he was 'hoping to further the interests of Erskine and myself with the execution of a church at Goole in the near future'. By that time they had offices in Harrogate and Horbury and were described as 'Architects & Surveyors'. Hill provided a set of drawings for converting St Andrews in Aberdeen ‘into a building that will be worthy of Memorial to Bishop Seabury’. The Cathedral authorities decided to take the advice of an expert and Sir Robert Lorimer was nominated to visit and discuss the proposals with the Trustees of St Andrews. Lorimer subsequently drew up a report criticising Hill’s plans and suggesting that the site should be changed. He estimated that the cost of a new building of a new site would be £200,000. However the Trustees rejected Lorimer’s plans. Hill was eventually paid a fee of £100 for his plans and Sir Ninian Comper was appointed to re-draw the whole building.

Henry Erskine Hill died on 13 June 1989.

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2Norval Rowallan Paxtonc. 1928 Partner 
Item 2 of 2Henry Erskine Hillc. 1928 Partner 


Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Courtesy of Stuart Donald, historian and researcher, Scottish Episcopal ChurchInformation via website Sent May 2008