Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Charles Cook
Born: 25 April 1877
Died: 31 March 1955
Bio Notes: James Charles Cook was born in Inverness on 25 April 1877, the son of Robert Cook, timber merchant, and his wife Mary who had both been born in Banff. He served his articles with Ross & Macbeth of Inverness from 1892, attending classes at Inverness Burgh Technical School. On completing his apprenticeship in October 1897 he moved to London as assistant to John Belcher, subsequently working briefly as assistant to Wimperis & Best in early 1901 before emigrating to South Africa to join Milne & Sladdin of Cape Town in May that year. He passed the qualifying exam in 1904, enabling him to be admitted ARIBA on 4 December 1905, his proposers being Alexander Ross, William Laidlaw Carruthers and John Slater. His nomination papers state that he had travelled in Italy from January to April of the previous year, but had returned to South Africa thereafter.

Initially he seems to have lived in Cape Town but moved to Bloemfontein by 1909 when he entered a competition for Pretoria Post Office which received honourable mention. That same year he moved to the Transvaal where he entered into partnership in Boksburg with JF MacKenzie as Cook & MacKenzie. Cook was elected a member of the Transvaal Institute of Architects' Council in 1914 and in about 1915 appears to have entered into partnership with WJ Sloan with offices in Boksburg, Benoni and Johannesburg. Sloan left this partnership in about 1917 and Cook continued to practise in Boksburg. He entered another partnership in 1918 with J Ralston of Pretoria practising in Johannesburg until about 1923 when the partnership was dissolved, both partners remaining in Johannesburg. He was also a member of Boksburg Municipal Council. He practised on his own account from about 1923 until 1927. His most important building of this period of independent practice was probably the design of Boksburg Town Hall in 1926. During this time he was commissioned to design a number of apartment blocks, a type of work which became the core of the practice with Maurice Cowen with whom he entered into partnership in 1927. By 1928 he was practising from offices in the National Mutual Buildings, Johannesburg. He maintained his Boksburg links after he moved to Johannesburg, being requested to design several buildings of importance in there until at least 1939.

The year before Cook and his wife Gertrude had made a trip back to the UK, returning to South Africa on 9 October 1938.

Cook died on 31 March 1955.

List of works in Johannesburg:
New Kemspey Building, Fox Street (1930)
Dorchester Mansions (1931-2)
Dunvegan Chambers, Pritchard Street (1933-4)
Lusan Mansions, Ellof Street (1933-50
Stanhope Mansions (1934-6)
Broadcast House (1935-7)
Grand National Building, Rissik Street (1935-8)
Gleneagles, apartment block in Killarney (1935-7)
His Majesties Building (1937-42)
Shakespeare House, corner of Joubert Street (no date)

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4Fanellan Cottage, Shore Street, Inverness, Inverness-shire, ScotlandPrivate1891 * Parental home
Item 2 of 434, Fitzroy Road, St Pancras, London, EnglandPrivate1901 * A boarder at this address
Item 3 of 4Bloemfontein, South AfricaPrivate1904 *  
Item 4 of 4National Mutual Buildings, Johannesburg, South AfricaBusiness1928 *  

* 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 4Ross & Macbeth1892October 1897Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4John BelcherOctober 18971901Assistant 
Item 3 of 4Wimperis & Best19011901Assistant 
Item 4 of 4Milne & Sladdin19011904Assistant 

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 1William George Whyte1928 Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3William Laidlaw Carruthers4 December 1905for Associateship
Item 2 of 3Alexander Ross4 December 1905for Associateship
Item 3 of 3John Slater4 December 1905for Associateship


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of Website of artefacts, for the recording of South African buildingsAccessed March 2014

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Census records onlineCensuses  
Item 2 of 3Courtesy of Diane BaptieInformation sent via 'Contact Us' on Dictionary website Sent March 2014
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A v16 p82 (microfilm reel 19)