16 June 2012

Thomas Stedman Whitwell

c. 1784-1840. Architect, working in Birmingham about 1813 to 1825.
Thomas Stedman Whitwell was born in Coventry to parents John (an appraiser and auctioneer) and Frances. His grandfather, John Whitwell Senior, was originally a blue maker, then a salesman, alderman and mayor of Coventry in 1783 and 1789.* Thomas spent much of the early years of his career in London where he had family, but worked in Coventry and Birmingham from about 1813 to 1825. From 1825 to 1826 he visited America and was involved in Robert Owen's envisioning of the utopian town, New Harmony, in Indiana. In 1828 he undertook his final commission, the Brunswick Theatre in Whitechapel, parts of which collapsed only days after opening, causing fatalities. He was cleared of responsibility but the incident virtually ended his career and afterwards he wrote a number of books. It is perhaps due to the accident and his damaged reputation that Whitwell is not always mentioned as the architect of his buildings by his contemporaries.

A list of some of Whitwell's Birmingham based work;
1819-1820: Meeting House on Carrs Lane (demolished)
1820-1821: New Library on Temple Row (demolished)
1823: Pantechnetheca on New Street (demolished)

NOTES
* References available on request.
With thanks to Alex Lawrey for his help regarding Thomas Stedman Whitwell's life and work. http://www.builtheritageresearch.org/
External Links.
New Harmony in Indiana    Brunswick Theatre in Whitechapel
Interesting stuff: http://www.futilitycloset.com/2011/05/03/hearing-places/

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