Basic Biographical Details

Name: Wallis, Gilbert & Partners
Designation: Architectural practice
Bio Notes: Thomas Wallis was born in West Norwood London on 22 June 1873. He was articled to Sidney R J Smith, working mainly on the Tate Gallery. By 1901 he had married, his son Douglas being born in 1901 and he secured a post on the Office of Works. In 1908 he entered into partnership with the slightly younger James Albert Bowden, born 1876, a pupil of F A Walters who had commenced independent practice in London in 1900. The partnership was mainly engaged on competition work, and although they secured the commission for an extension to Stoke-on-Trent Town Hall in 1909, Wallis retained his post at the Office of Works to ensure a steady income, remaining there until 1916.

In 1914 this partnership was dissolved following an approach to Wallis from the Kahn brothers’ firm Kahncrete to design reinforced concrete industrial buildings. Wallis then entering into a new partnership with ___Gilbert, an American member of the Kahncrete firm: Gilbert does not appear in either the ‘Biographical Dictionary of American Architects or in the Kahn biography and may have been structural engineer rather than architect. All that can be said about this partnership is that Gilbert never settled in the UK and that any work done by the practice seems to have been carried out in the Kahncrete office. Wallis worked mainly with Moritz and Julius Kahn’s Truscon, the British subsidiary of their American Trussed Concrete Steel firm, providing a simplified Beaux Arts cladding to Kahn-designed early structures wherever the client required it., very much on the model of similar industrial projects in the USA. These included the Napier Motor Works in Acton, the Westinghouse Workshops in Manchester, Williams & Williams in Chester, Brott Ltd in Birmingham and the Tilling Stevens engineering works in Maidstone, all designed before the publication of Moritz Kahn’s ‘Design and Construction of Modern Industrial Buildings, published in 1917. The book illustrated project drawings rather than photographs, and not all of them may have been executed.

From the mid-1920s American industrialists began establishing factories in the UK, bringing commissions for factory buildings from Hoover, Firestone and Coty- and for these Wallis adopted a Burnet & Tait-like manner, the long office block facades having long colonnades set in architrave frames stretched between pylons, all faced in render with polychrome Egyptian detail in ceramic. The India Tyre Factory at Inchinnan belongs to this group.

In the 1930s his practice’s style became a simpler art-deco moderne, sometimes in same render with just a little polychrome, sometimes in brick with textures concrete detail. The work of those years included coach stations at London Victoria, Reigate, Windsor, Amersham, Hemel Hempstead and Hertford.

Wallis was initially a member of the Society of Architects and had risen to being one of its four vice-presidents when the Society merged with the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1925. His standing in the Society ensured that he was admitted Fellow, and he delivered a paper on Factories in 1932. But in the same year he ran into trouble with the publication of Wallis Gilbert & Partners’ ‘Industrial Architecture’ in Geneva. Although a similar volume on the work of Burnet & Tait had been published in the Geneva Masters of Architecture series in 1932, the RIBA took exception to Wallis Gilbert’s and all unissued copies had to be pulped.

Wallis had at least two active partners: his son Douglas T Wallis, and John Wishart Macgregor, born in England to Scottish parents in 1901. He had been with Lucas & Lodge 1924-26, transferring to Wallis Gilbert and becoming a partner in 1928. His partnership ended in 1938, the practice being continued by Douglas Wallis after Thomas Wallis’s retirement in 1945.

Thomas Wallis died in London on 4 May 1953.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 19, Victoria Street, London, EnglandBusiness1920s *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1John Wishart Macgregor19281938Assistant 


RIBA Proposals

This architectural practice proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1John Wishart Macgregor21 January 1939For Licentiateship

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice 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 11929India Tyre FactoryInchinnan RenfrewshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 9Glendinning, M, MacInnes, R and MacKechnie, A1996A History of Scottish Architecture  p600
Item 2 of 9Grove Dictionary of Art Grove Dictionary of Art   
Item 3 of 9Hitchmough, W1992Hoover Factory: Wallis Gilbert & Partners Phaidon 
Item 4 of 9Kahn, Moritz1917The Design and Construction of Industrial Buildings London: Technical Journals 
Item 5 of 9Snowden, J J and Platts, R W1974Great West Road Style Architectural Review, clvi, pp21-27 
Item 6 of 9Walker, Frank Arneil1986South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew  p102
Item 7 of 9Wallis Gilbert & Partners1932Industrial Architecture Geneva 
Item 8 of 9Wallis, D T1929Modern Factory Planning Architecture vii, pp61-73 
Item 9 of 9Wallis, T1932Factories RIBA Journal, XL, 1932-33, pp301-312 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Builder15 May 1953v 184 p744
Item 2 of 2Twentieth Century Architecture2012Issue 3 pp30-31

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers John Wishart Macgregor: L no4753 (Combined Box 33)