Sunday, 28 March 2010

16 Ship Street

In the heart of the old town this rather neglected looking property was once the home and offices of distinguished Victorian architect Thomas Simpson. He is shown to be in occupation in the 1871 census and died there in 1908. His name has come to the fore due to the recent listing, by English Heritage, of the Connaught Road School in Hove for which he was the architect.  The application for listing was made by the Brighton Society based on the extensive research work of member Ninka Wilcox.

Thomas Simpson was appointed Surveyor and Architect to the Brighton & Preston School Board in 1871 and went on to design - later in collaboration with his sons - all the Brighton Board Schools except Richmond Street and many in Hove and Portslade too. Downs Primary and St. Lukes, both listed, are particularly fine examples of his work. Connaught Road School is the only example of his Queen Anne style in Hove. It is fair to say that nearly everyone who has been to school in Brighton has to some extent been touched by Thomas Simpson's work.

Thomas Simpson seems to have founded something of a family dynasty. His younger son Gilbert Murray carried on as Surveyor and Architect to Brighton Education Committee until his retirement in 1945. His eldest son John became president of the RIBA in 1919, was knighted in 1924, and, among many other prestigious assignments designed Roedean School.

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