Basic Biographical Details

Name: J Henry Sellers
Bio Notes: James Henry Sellers was born on 1 November 1861 at Longholme, Hall Carr, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, Lancashire, the son of Thomas Sellers, a cotton-factory machinist, and his wife, Naomi Preston The family subsequently moved to Oldham where James Henry Sellers received only an elementary education at the local Board School.

At the age of fourteen he found work as an office boy to the Oldham architect Thomas Boyter. Essentially self- taught he became an able and proficient draftsman and progressed to the role of assistant, finding work in architectís offices in Liverpool, London, Birmingham and York. It was in York, where he worked for W J Penty, that he gained his appreciation for classical and Georgian architecture.

He next moved to Carlisle (circa 1893) to become became the assistant county architect for Cumberland. Here he worked under George Dale Oliver of the practice Oliver and Dodgshun and in the firmís nane designed several bank and school buildings including the Midland Bank Chambers in Hexham, Northumberland, (1896). He left Carlisle in 1899 having been presented with a gold watch bearing the inscription ďPresented to Mr J H Sellers by the Office Staff of Messrs Oliver and Dodgshun and Tradesmen of Carlisle. October 21 1899"

Returning to Oldham he went into partnership with David Jones. Their first recorded work was the design for two villas in Abbey Hills Road in May of 1901. Other houses followed and one of the house extensions that Sellers designed had a flat reinforced concrete roof. The houses were photographed by Charles Jackson of Middleton, through whom Sellers met Edgar Wood. Sometime between November l903 and November 1905. Sellers left Jones and joined Wood in an informal partnership in which each partner remained responsible for his own work. Nevertheless, projects and other architectural matters were reportedly fully discussed. Wood and Sellers produced designs for a number of experimental houses at this time including a number with reinforced concrete flat roofs

By 1910 Wood was playing a much less active role in the practice, finally retiring in 1923 and moving to Italy. Wood died on the Italian Riviera in 1935 but Sellers continued to work in Manchester until 1947, continuing to build houses and design furniture during this inter-war period.

James Henry Sellers died on January 30, 1954 at his home in Alderley Edge, Cheshire. Following his death the following appreciation appeared in the Manchester Guardian

Mr John H G Archer writes:
J H Sellers was one of the outstanding architects of Manchester in the last half century. His principal contribution to English architecture was made in partnership with Edgar Wood, also a highly original man, between 1900 and 1922. Largely through Sellerís boldness and initiative, the partners designed a series of startlingly unconventional buildings which in construction and expression anticipated by twenty years many of the features of modern architecture. These experimental buildings are notable for their practical arrangement, clean wall surfaces, fine proportion, and the daring use of reinforced concrete flat roofs. Although designed fifty years ago they are still surprisingly modern in appearance. The finest of Sellerís buildings is the office block he designed in 1907 for Dronsfields Limited, King Street Oldham. It is only a small building, faced in green brick and mottled grey granite, but it shows to the full the courage skill and sensibility of its architect. Sellers excelled as a furniture designer, delighting in the grain, texture and colour of fine materials: amboyna, Cuban mahogany, ebony, ivory and mother of pearl. He has been ranked in this work with Lutyens and Ernest Gimson. He was a most modest and unassuming man., hating fuss, affection or pretentiousness. He brought to architecture the qualities of his sterling character - simplicity, strength directness and integrity. He belonged to the Lancashire tradition. [Manchester Guardian 5 February 1954]

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 278, Cross Street, Manchester, England    
Item 2 of 278, King Street, Manchester, England    

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 2Oliver & Dodgshun  Assistant 
Item 2 of 2George Dale Oliverc. 18931899 Assistant Architect for Cumberland

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 1c. 1908Thistleburg   Scotland 


Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Manchester Guardian5 February 1954  p4 Appreciation by John Archer

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Courtesy of Neil DarlingtonInformation sent via DSA website Information sent July 2012