Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Wallis, Gilbert & Partners |
|Designation: ||Architectural practice |
|Started: || |
|Ended: || |
|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:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|9, Victoria Street, London, England||Business||1920s *|| || |
* 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):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|John Wishart Macgregor||1928||1938||Assistant|| |
|This architectural practice proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date proposed||Notes|
|John Wishart Macgregor||21 January 1939||For 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 started||Building name||Town, district or village||Island||City or county||Country||Notes|
|1929||India Tyre Factory||Inchinnan|| ||Renfrewshire||Scotland|| |
|The following books contain references to this architectural practice:|
|Glendinning, M, MacInnes, R and MacKechnie, A||1996||A History of Scottish Architecture|| || ||p600|
|Grove Dictionary of Art|| ||Grove Dictionary of Art|| || || |
|Hitchmough, W||1992||Hoover Factory: Wallis Gilbert & Partners|| ||Phaidon|| |
|Kahn, Moritz||1917||The Design and Construction of Industrial Buildings|| ||London: Technical Journals|| |
|Snowden, J J and Platts, R W||1974||Great West Road Style|| ||Architectural Review, clvi, pp21-27|| |
|Walker, Frank Arneil||1986||South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew|| || ||p102|
|Wallis Gilbert & Partners||1932||Industrial Architecture|| ||Geneva|| |
|Wallis, D T||1929||Modern Factory Planning|| ||Architecture vii, pp61-73|| |
|Wallis, T||1932||Factories|| ||RIBA Journal, XL, 1932-33, pp301-312|| |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||15 May 1953||v 184|| ||p744|
|Twentieth Century Architecture||2012||Issue 3|| ||pp30-31|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||John Wishart Macgregor: L no4753 (Combined Box 33)|