Basic Biographical Details

Name: Bradshaw & Gass
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1881
Ended: 1902
Bio Notes: Bradshaw Gass & Hope was founded by Jonas James Bradshaw in 1866. Born in 1837 Bradshaw came from a liberal non-Conformist family. He was articled to the little-known Joseph Marsden in 1855 and remained with him for seven and a half years as his managing clerk before setting up on his own at 16 Nelson Street, Bolton. Living nearby was William Hesketh Lever, later to be an important client.

Bradshaw’s earliest major commissions were town workhouses, Clitheroe and Eaves Lane, Chorley, built 1968-72, the latter in association with Leigh Hall. The Clitheroe example is decent north country Italianate, Chorley much larger and French-roofed. Bradshaw’s practice was otherwise predominantly industrial but included villas and a couple of gothic country houses, Greenthorne and Watermillock, built in 1880-86, and the Spinners’ Hall in Bolton of 1880. Because of the industrial nature of the practice it was multidisciplinary from the beginning with its own structural engineer and measurer, an arrangement which was to remain a feature of the practice and which had much to do with its success. Among Bradshaw’s apprentice engineers was Joseph Parkinson (1861-1935) later to practice as an architect of skyscrapers in the USA. Bradshaw’s chief assistant for most of his career was James William Wallace (1850-1926) who formed a socialist and literary group known as the Eagle Street College at his home. It had links with Walt Whitman with whom they corresponded and with the socialist Edward Carpenter who influenced Raymond Unwin in his formative years. Wallace must have been well-paid as he visited Whitman in 1891 but he never became a partner.

By 1871 Bradshaw’s practice had outgrown the Nelson Street office and moved to 19 Silverwell Street where it still remains. In that year he was joined by his nephew John Bradshaw Gass, born in 1855 at Annan, Dumfriesshire, the son of George Pool Gass and his wife Alice who was Bradshaw’s sister. Gass was brought up in Bolton and educated privately. He then studied at Bolton School of Art and became a fine watercolourist, exhibiting at the Royal Academy from 1879: in his later years he was to travel North Africa, Asia and India in his search for subjects. After a short period as a teacher of mathematics and art, he was articled to his uncle, remaining with him as managing assistant from 1876 in parallel with Wallace. During that period he studied civil engineering at Owen’s College, Manchester from 1874 in order to equip himself for the predominantly industrial nature of the practice. He won the Ashbury Exhibition Prize in 1878 and was Art Prizeman in 1879.

Gass then obtained a place in the office of George & Peto in London, enabling him to study at the Royal Academy Schools from July 1880. In the same year he made a study tour of Belgium, returning with superb measured drawings of the 15th and 16th century houses which had such a strong appeal for George. He passed the qualifying exam and was admitted ARIBA on 3 January 1881, his proposers being Arthur Cates, James Thomas Knowles and Octavius Hansard. His uncle then made him a partner, the practice title now being Bradshaw & Gass. Further study tours in France, Holland and Germany followed over the next few years, and in 1883 he won the Godwin Bursary. He took time out from the practice to undertake a study tour of New York, Boston, Philadelphia and Washington in 1885. In the course of it he visited the offices of H J Hardenburgh, R M Hunt, W Le Baron Jenney, H H Richardson and others, returning with a splendid collection of photographs of their work. This visit resulted in a number of papers given over the next decade, notably on the American methods of construction which were applied to the large number of four to six-storey warehouses and mills he built on his return: some of these had quite imaginative detail. He was admitted FRIBA in 1 March 1889, his proposers being Bradshaw, Knowles and William Alfred Royle: Bradshaw himself had been admitted only three years earlier on 18 January 1886, his proposers being Edward Graham Paley, Richard Knill Freeman and Ernest George.

After Gass’s American tour the practice moved quickly into the national league. The Wesleyan church became a very important client commissioning large buildings in Finsbury, London, 1902, Liverpool 1904 and Wigan 1908; other major commissions were the Victoria Halls in Bolton, 1898-1900, the Royal Friendly Society, Southampton Row, London, 1902-04, the Northern Stock Exchange, Congregational Church House and Cooperative Insurance Headquarters, all in Manchester in 1907-09. A London office opened at 31 (later 108) City Road to supervise the London commissions. These buildings were in vigorous neo-Baroque with elements drawn from George, Shaw and American practice, but there was an arts-and-crafts side to the practice in the houses and other buildings for Lever at Port Sunlight, in a large half-timbered country house at Withnell Fold, Chorley and in the Wesleyan Church, Haulgh, Bolton.

Withnell Fold was Gass’s work but the simpler arts-and-crafts idiom of the smaller houses built in those years seems to have been associated with the third partner Arthur John Hope. For the history of the practice after Hope joined in 1902, see entry for Bradshaw Gass & Hope.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 119, Silverwell Street, Bolton, Lancashire, EnglandBusiness1881  

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 3John Bradshaw Gass1871 Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3Jonas James Bradshaw18811902Partner 
Item 3 of 3John Bradshaw Gass18811902Partner 

References

Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
 Author(s)DateTitlePartPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Lingard, Jane and Timothy2007Bradshaw Gass & Hope: the Story of an Architectural Practice London, Gallery Lingard 
Item 2 of 2Redman, Austen2007Bolton Civic Centre and the Classical Revival Style of Bradshaw Gass & Hope From Clara Hartwell and Terry Wyke (eds): Making Manchester: essays in honour of H G Archer