Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Reid Corson
Born: 1821 or 1822
Died: 6 December 1913(?)
Bio Notes: William Reid Corson was born in Dumfries c.1822, the second son of James Corson, of Cassylands and Stakeford, Provost in Dumfries 1831-33 and his wife Janet Reid from Kirkennan. He was educated at Dumfries Academy and was articled to Walter Newall of Dumfries, but by the mid-1840s he had moved to Leeds where he became partner to Edward La Trobe Bateman a few years later: both had spent a period working for Owen Jones on Little Woodhouse in 1847. In 1849 they were joined by Corson's younger brother George as their assistant, but shortly thereafter Bateman left Leeds leaving William Corson in charge of the office as sole partner. In 1855 William Corson took over John Edgar Gregan's architectural practice in Manchester, following Gregan's sudden death in April of that year, the link being that Gregan was also a native of Dumfries and an earlier pupil in Newall’s office. Thereafter he divided his time between Leeds and Manchester retaining Gregan's old address at 20 Cooper Street. In 1860 William Corson settled permanently in Manchester where his brother James had successfully established himself in cotton. It is not absolutely clear at which point his brother George became a partner, but he had a considerable design role from 11855 and from1860 was in sole charge of the Leeds office. After a few years the practices were amicable separated in 1867/1868 when William formed a partnership with Robert Walker Aitken from Peddie & Kinnear's office. The new partnership then moved to St James Chambers, Manchester.

William Corson became the second President of the Manchester Society of Architects 1867-69. Like his brother George he resisted Charles Barry Junior’s recruiting campaign and never sought membership of the RIBA. Derek Linstrum and Susan Wrathmell state that he emigrated Santa Monica in California and this is indeed correct as his great great granddaughter confirms his presence in California from census records there. He sailed to New York on 28th of August, 1885. The ship's name was the 'City of Richmond.' Doubt has been cast by previous writers on his emigration because his personal and business addresses continued to be listed in local directories in Manchester. Perhaps he remained a sleeping partner with Robert Aitken at least for some years and he may have planned to return when the ‘long recession’ ended and the Manchester practice regained its earlier prosperity.

Corson was responsible for some curious but nevertheless successful experiments on bricks 'made by machines'. In 1896 his brother George read three papers written by him at the Leeds Architectural Association. They were on the acoustic properties of rooms, masons’ marks and the application of practical geometry to rooms, giving some indication of the range of his scientific interests. Corson married sometime before 1864 and he and his wife, Grace, had three daughters and one son. His practice in the United States was mainly domestic.

He died in Santa Monica on 6 December 1913.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 113, Albion Place, Leeds, EnglandBusinessc. 1845c. 1849 
Item 2 of 1110, Lyddon Place, Leeds, EnglandPrivate1849  
Item 3 of 115, South Parade, Leeds, EnglandBusiness18511860 
Item 4 of 1120, Cooper Street, Manchester, EnglandBusiness18581865 
Item 5 of 11Slade Cottage, Burnage Lane, Manchester, EnglandPrivate1861 *  
Item 6 of 1148, Richmond Grove, Longsight, Manchester, EnglandPrivate18631871 or 1872 
Item 7 of 11St James's Square Chambers/10, St James's Square, Manchester, EnglandBusiness1868 *1879Address of the partnership with Aitken
Item 8 of 11Westerlea, Fallowfield, Manchester, EnglandPrivate1876 *  
Item 9 of 11The Poplars, Prestbury, Macclesfield, Cheshire, EnglandPrivate18771883And perhaps after
Item 10 of 1110, St James's Square, Manchester, EnglandBusiness1880Before 1886Address of W R Corson
Item 11 of 11Santa Monica, California, United States of AmericaPrivate/business18851913 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3Walter Newallc. 1840(?)Before 1845Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3Bateman & Corsonc. 18481849Partner 
Item 3 of 3Corson & Aitkenc. 1860After 1868Partner 

Buildings and Designs

This 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 61847Little WoodhouseLeeds YorkshireEnglandAs assistant to Owen Jones
Item 2 of 61850Great Exhibition of 1850  LondonEnglandUnsuccessful competition entry
Item 3 of 6c. 1860Auchencairn HouseAuchencairn KirkcudbrightshireScotland 
Item 4 of 61861Girdstingwood House DundrennanDundrennan KirkcudbrightshireScotland 
Item 5 of 61864Rerrick Parish ChurchDundrennan KirkcudbrightshireScotland 
Item 6 of 61868East UP ChurchGalashiels SelkirkshireScotlandEnlargement


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 6Architects Engineers and Building Trades Directory1868Architect's, Engineer's and Building Trades' Directory London, Wyman 
Item 2 of 6Linstrum, Derek West Yorkshire Architects and Architecture   
Item 3 of 6Post Office Directories     
Item 4 of 6Slater Directories of Manchester and area   
Item 5 of 6Webster, Chris (ed.)2011Building a Great Victorian City: Leeds Architects and Architecture 1790-1914 Jeremy Mills Publishing 
Item 6 of 6Wilson, T B1937Two Leeds Architects: Cuthbert Brodrick and George Corson   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Building News1890v59 p166

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Courtesy of Sharon Lobus, great great granddaughter of William Reid CorsonInformation sent via 'Contact Us 'on website Sent August 2014
Item 2 of 3Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Research by Neil Darlington, Manchester
Item 3 of 3Public Record OfficeCensus Records RG11 Piece/Folio 3487/45 page number 6