29 June 2012

John Fallows

Architect & builder. 1799-1861.

John Fallows was born in Birmingham in 1799. He worked as a builder and surveyor in the mid 1820s, as an architect from about 1828 and was described in 1830 as 'rapidly rising in his profession , and [to have] executed several excellent villas in the parish of Edgbaston'.*** He is not a well known architect but he was one of the three finalists to be chosen for the building of the new Town Hall in December 1830 (Hansom & Welch finally winning). His work tails off through the 1830s, in the beginning of the decade he moved away from Birmingham to Northfield, and then, in 1832, declared himself bankrupt. After this he continued to live in Northfield but worked in Birmingham, though from about 1835 he works as Fallows & Hart, probably with a brother-in-law as his first wife was Maria Dinah Hart. From the late 1830s/early 1840s he built up a business as an auctioneer and surveyor with offices at 14 Temple Row. He married twice and had children from both marriages, and there is a memorial for him and both his wives in St. Laurence's church in Northfield, where Fallows himself died on 20th December 1861.
Andy Foster describes Fallows's work as combining 'handsome proportions with picturesque, sometimes eccentric, detail' and also mention his 'trademark tapering 'Graeco-Egyptian' architraves'.** This can especially be seen in his surviving work in Calthorpe Road.

Buildings by John Fallows in and around Birmingham:
c. 1828: House and offices at 99 & 100 New Street (occupied and used by Fallows) (demolished)
c. 1828. House at 36 Waterloo Street (attributed by Andy Foster) (facaded in 1976)
1828-1829: Chapel on Ablewell Street, Walsall*
1828-1835: Houses at 27 to 30 Waterloo Street
1829-1830: Houses at 31, 35 & 36 Calthorpe Road
1832-1833: Plough and Harrow Inn on Hagley Road
As Fallows and Hart
1836: House and factory of George Unite at 65 Caroline Street (attributed by Andy Foster)

John Fallows's grandson was the writer and lecturer John Arthur Fallows (1865-1935) who wrote a pamplet entitled The Housing of the Poor in 1899 which describes in detail life in Birmingham's courts of back-to-back's at that time, and who also wrote against racial discrimination.

* 'Walsall: Protestant Nonconformity', A History of the County of Stafford: Volume 17: Offlow hundred (part) (1976), pp. 241-249. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=36199&strquery=fallows Date accessed: 18 March 2012.
** Andy Foster, Pevsner Architectural Guides: Birmingham (London: Yale University Press, 2005).
*** Other references on request.
Full references available on request.
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