Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Town planner, architect and writer. Manning Robertson, the eldest son of Herbert Robertson of Huntington Castle, Co. Carlow, MP for Hackney, was born on 29 May 1887. After an education at Eton and Magdalen College, Oxford, he was articled to the London architect Sir Ernest George. By 1915 he was in private practice at 50 Norfolk Square, London.(1) In 1920 he was appointed deputy chief architect to the Ministry of Health housing department but in October of the following year he resigned from the post and resumed his practice in Norfolk Square.(2) During the early 1920s he began to make regular contributions to The Builder, the Architects' Journal and other newspapers and periodicals. Many of these were collected in his first two books, Everyday Architecture (1924) and Laymen and the New Architecture (1925). In 1925 he joined the London Architectural Association's tour of new architecture in Denmark and Sweden(3) and in the same year he moved to Ireland.

For the next twenty years Robertson was in private practice in Dublin. He continued to write and lecture prolifically on architectural and town planning matters, vigorously promoting the cause of town planning and public housing and attacking the 'Tudorbethan half-timber outrage on the face of Ireland' which was making the suburbs of Dublin 'as nearly as possible like Croydon'.(4) As an architect, his output was small, consisting mainly of modest domestic work. It is as a town planner that he is chiefly known and remembered. With PATRICK ABERCROMBIE  PATRICK ABERCROMBIE and SYDNEY KELLY  SYDNEY KELLY he was town-planning consultant to Dublin Corporation, and he also produced development schemes for Dun Laoghaire (1936),(5) Limerick (1938)(6) and Cork (1941).(7) He was a founder in 1941 of the Irish branch of the Institute of Town Planning, of which he became the first chairman. In 1927 he organized the Housing and Town Planning Exhibition which formed part of Dublin Civic Week (8) and in 1944 he presided at the meetings of the National Planning Conference held in Dublin. For many years he was also Honorary Secretary of the Civics Institute of Ireland. He was a member of the Advisory Committee for the Recording of Irish Architecture and acted as assessor for the Irish Builder prize for measured drawing in 1928.(9) For some years he was external examiner to the National University of Ireland.

In Ireland Robertson divided his life between Dublin and Huntington Castle. His many and varied interests included music, literature and the fine arts, astronomy, fishing, agriculture and gardening. A retiring, gentle and kindly nature was to some extent concealed, according to Eleanor Butler, by a certain aloofness of manner. He died suddenly on 17 March 1945, survived by his wife, Nora, only daughter of Lt. General Sir Lawrence Worthington Parsons, whom he had married on 15 October 1912. Nora Robertson, who was also a writer, was co-author with him of Foundations of Architecture (1929). The Robertsons had two sons and two daughters.

AAI:(10) elected member, 1927; vice-president, 1930-1031; president, 1932-33.
RIAI: elected member, 1926.(11)
RIBA: student, 1911; associate, 1915 (proposed by Sir Ernest George, Alfred B. Yeates and Edward Warren);(12) member of council, 1923-26; associate member of council 1926-1930; fellow, 5 January 1931 (proposed by Howard Robertson, E. Stanley Hall and J. Murray Easton).(13)
Town Planning Institute: elected member, 1934;(14) founder member and first chairman of Irish branch, 1942.(15)

Addresses:(16) Work: 50 Norfolk Square, London, <=1915(17)->=1923;(18) Provincial Bank Chambers, 3 & 4 College Street, Dublin, <=1927->=1940.
Home: 10 Raglan Road, Dublin, <=1926->=1943,(19) and Huntington Castle, Co. Carlow.

See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY. BIBLIOGRAPHY.



References

All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from Burke's Irish Family Records (1976), 989, and from the obituaries in IB 87, 24 Mar 1945, 130, RIBAJ 52 (1944-45), 207 (by Harry Allberry) and RIAI Year Book (1945), 16 (by Eleanor Grace Butler). For an account of Robertson's writings and opinions see Sean Rothery, Ireland and the New Architecture 1900-1940, 114-121, which is illustrated with a portrait photograph. Other photographs are in IB 75, 6 May 1933, 377 (the same image accompanies the obituary in IB), Irish Times 21 Jun 1939, andAAI Green Book (1933), 26. A portrait of Robertson is at Huntington Castle.

(1) RIBAJ 23 (1915-16), 32.
(2) RIBAJ 28 (1920-21), 618.
(3) IB 67, 8 Aug 1925, 645.
(4) Letter to Irish Independent, 6 Mar 1934; he also attacked the half-timbered Pembroke Hall at the Royal Dublin Society, see IB 74, 2 Jan 1932, 22, and Architect & Building News 128, 27 Nov 1931, 'News of the Week'.
(5) IB 78, 12 Dec 1936, 1115(illus.); 79, 12 Jun 1937, 515.
(6) IB 80, 2,30 Apr 1938, 268,345.
(7) IB 73, 8 Nov 1941, 515; 76, 21 Oct 1944, 417-420 (this article says the plan was 'discussed at some length' in issues of Sep & Oct 1941); 88, 26 Jan 1946, 44.
(8) IB 69, 1 Oct 1927, 709.
(9) IB 70, 7 Jul,18 Aug,29 Sep,24 Nov 1928, 570,693,817,985.
(10) From lists of members and past office bearers in AAI Green Books.
(11) JRIAI (1927), 11.
(12) RIBAJ 23 (1916), 32.
(13) RIBAJ 38 (1931), 92,159.
(14) IB 76, 2 Jun 1934, 454.
(15) IB 84, 28 Feb 1942, 83.
(16) From Thom's Directories and AAI and RIAI lists of members unless otherwise stated.
(17) See note 12, above.
(18) Who's Who in Architecture (1923), 209.
(19) List of members inAAI Green Book (1944).


20 work entries listed in chronological order for ROBERTSON, MANNING DURDIN


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PALMERSTON PARK (RATHMINES), HOUSES (002)
Date: 1928
Nature: 2 new houses to be built.
Refs: IB 70, 31 Mar 1928, 272

Building: CO. CARLOW, CARLOW, TOWN HALL
Date: 1932
Nature: Arrangement of interior for Health Exhibition, May-Jun 1932.
Refs: IB 74, 4 Jun 1932, 506

Building: CO. CARLOW, CARLOW, ST KILLIAN'S CRESCENT, HOUSES (088)
Date: 1932a
Nature: Crescent shaped devlepment of new houses for Carlow UDC and Carlow Public Utility Society. Built of semi-dry concrete blockis. Cost £343 per house
Refs: IB 74, 13 Feb 1932, 141(illus.),144-149(illus.); Architect & Building News 130, 15 Apr 1932, 76(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, LITTLE BRAY, DUBLIN ROAD (& UPPER DARGLE ROAD), HOUSES (078)
Date: 1932a
Nature: Public housing scheme replacing existing slum.
Refs: IB 74, 13 Feb 1932, 141-144(illus.)

Building: CO. CARLOW, CARLOW, HOUSES (047)
Date: 1933
Nature: Tenders invited for erecting 47 4-roomed houses for Carlow UDC.
Refs: IB 75, 30 Dec 1933, 1130

Building: CO. DUBLIN, TICKNOCK, HOUSE
Date: 1933
Nature: New bungalow with No-Frango roof. Contractor: James Beckett.
Refs: IB 75, 6,20 May 1933, 386,410

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, RATHFARNHAM, HOUSE
Date: 1935
Nature: Bungalow constructed of Nofrango.
Refs: IB 77, 1 Jun 1935, 482

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUN LAOGHAIRE
Date: 1936
Nature: Proposed development plan.
Refs: IB 78, 12 Dec 1936, 1115(illus.); 79, 12 Jun 1937, 515

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, DEVELOPMENT PLAN (PROPOSED)
Date: 1938
Nature: -
Refs: IB 80, 2,30 Apr 1938, 268,345

Building: CO. DUBLIN, MONKSTOWN, MONKSTOWN FARM, HOUSES (168)
Date: 1940
Nature: For Dun Laoghaire Borough Council.
Refs: IB 81, 18 Feb 1939, 153; 82, 2 Mar 1940, 148

Building: CO. DUBLIN, BLACKROCK, TEMPLE HILL HOUSING SCHEME
Date: 1940-41
Nature: Labourers' dwelling scheme of 40 houses. For Dunlaoghaire Borough Council.
Refs: IB 81, 18 Feb 1939, 153; 82, 2 Mar 1940, 148; RIAI Year Book (1945), illus. facing p. 7; Architectural Design, Jul 1947, 185(illus.).

Building: CO. CORK, CORK, DEVELOPMENT PLAN (PROPOSED)
Date: 1941
Nature: Plan proposing clearance & conversion to gardens of areas round St Mary's Cathedral and Elizabeth Fort; continuation of Academy St to river; clearanceof the Marsh; new road linking St Patrick St with City Hall; new bridge at S end of Grand Parade; new ring road
Refs: IB 73, 8 Nov 1941, 515; 76, 21 Oct 1944, 417-420 (this article says plan was 'discussed at some length' in issues of Sep & Oct 1941); 88, 26 Jan 1946, 44. (His plans for Cork may also have been the subject of the lectures he gave at the Cork School of Art in 1941, see IB 83, 15 Mar 1941, 133, and at University College Cork in 1945, see IB 87, 27 Jan 1945, 40)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, BLACKROCK, PUBLIC LIBRARY & DOMESTIC SCIENCE SCHOOL
Date: 1941
Nature: -
Refs: IB 83, 18 Jan 1941, 40

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DALKEY, HOUSES (052)
Date: 1941
Nature: Scheme of 52 houses. Contractor: C.J. O'Callaghan.
Refs: IB 83, 5 Jul 1941, 332

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, PUBLIC HEALTH CLINIC
Date: 1942
Nature: New.
Refs: IB 84, 31 Jan 1942, 54

Building: CO. LIMERICK, LIMERICK, CLANCY STRAND, HOUSES (006)
Date: 1944
Nature: 6 masonry houses.
Refs: IB 86, 15 Jul 1944, 288

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, AILESBURY ROAD, NO. 041
Date: 1949
Nature: Conversion into flats.
Refs: IB 91, 26 Nov 1949, 1118

Building: CO. CARLOW, HUNTINGTON CASTLE
Date: ?
Nature: Removal of battlements (since replaced) and other alts.
Refs: Sean Rothery, Ireland and the New Architecture 1900-1940, 121

Building: CO. CARLOW, TINRYLAND (CARLOW), FATHER CULLEN MEMORIAL SCHOOL
Date: ?
Nature: -
Refs: Biography of MR in Irish Times, 21 Jun 1939

Building: ENGLAND, LONDON, CITY OF LONDON HOSPITAL, SAUNDERTON SANATORIUM
Date: ?
Nature: -
Refs: Biography of JJR i 'Architecture Yesterday and Today', supplement to Irish Times, 21 Jun 1939, 28

Author Title Date Details
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Traffic Arabesques' 1837 AAI Green Book (1938), 33-35.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Town-Planning' 1920 IB 72, ? ? 1930, 318. (Letter to editor.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Architects and housing' 1922 AJ 56, 13 Dec 1922, 830.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'House Planning' 1923 AJ 57, 3 Jan 1923, 6.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Everyday architecture' 1924 AJ 60, 29 Oct 1924, 674.
Robertson, Manning Durdin Everyday Architecture 1924 London: Fisher & Unwin, 1924.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Nationalism in architecture' 1925 AJ 62, 26 Aug 1925, 310 (and 337?)
Robertson, Manning Durdin Laymen and the new architecture 1925 London: John Murray, 1925.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Housing Expedients' 1926 Extracts from letter 'to the daily press' published in IB 68, 9 Jan 1926, 5
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'New architecture in Ireland' 1926 AJ 64, 18 Aug 1926, 203
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Modern architecture' 1926 IB 68, 3 Apr 1926, 257. (Summary of lecture given in St Bartholomew's Hall, Dublin.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Ireland's Housing Problem' 1927 IB 69, 14 May 1927, 370. (Text of letter published 'in the general press'.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Beethoven and architecture' 1927 AJ 65, 23 Mar 1927, 413.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Church Architecture' 1927 IB 69, 23 Jul 1927, 533. (Paper read at summer school of lectures to the clergy, Trinity College, Dublin, 1927.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin ? 1928 IB 70, 22 Dec 1928, ?
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'In the Free State' 1928 AJ 68, 14 Nov 1928, 663.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Town Planning in Ireland' 1929 IB 71, 2 Feb 1929, 86. (Paper read to AAI, 22 Jan 1929; subject of leading article in same issue, p.105.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Irish Seaside Architecture' 1929 IB 71, 8 Jun 1929, 491.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Plain words to Irish builders' 1929 IB 71, 16 Feb 1929, 134-138; AJ 69, 1 May 1929, 694.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Town planning' 1930 IB 72, ? ? 1930, 318. (Letter to editor.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The RIBA Conference Tours' 1931 Architect & Building News 126, 12 Jun 1931, 350-353.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Architecture and the Public' 1931 IB 73, 21 Nov 1931, 1006. (Paper read to AAI, 10 Nov 1931.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The housing of the poor: a problem of the present era' 1932 IB 74, 30 Jan 1932, 110. (Extracts from lecture to Society of Friends.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Towards and Irish national style' 1932 Architect & Building News 132, 4 Nov 1932, 146,148; IB 74, 5 Nov 1932, 977-8; AAI Green Book (1933), 27-36. (Presidential address to AAI.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The towns we live in' 1933 Irish Times, 15 Dec 1933; IB 76, 16 Jun 1934, 497. (Summary of paper read in at RIAI, Dublin, 14 Dec 1933; also noted in Irish Press, 15 Dec 1933.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin Cautionary Guide to Dublin 1933 Dublin: RIAI, 1933. (Reviews in RIBAJ 41 (1933-34), 410 (by Clough Williams-Ellis), IB 76, 11 Aug 1934, 664; briefer notices in The Times, 21Dec 1933, Irish Independent, 19 Dec 1933.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The need for good town planning' 1934 IB 76, 21 Apr 1934, 318
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Wooden Huts' 1934 Irish Times, 22 Feb 1934. (Letter to editor.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Beauty and the two job men' 1934 Irish Independent, 6 Mar 1934. (Letter to editor.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The shop façade. Order or chaos?' 1934 JRIAI (1934), 25-28
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The Architect as Town Planner' 1935 IB 77, 30 Nov 1935, 1102. (Talk broadcast on 4 Nov 1935.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Music and architecture' 1935 IB 77, 20 Apr 1935, 326. (Extracts from paper read to AAI, 2 Apr 1935.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Town Planning and Traffic' 1935 JRIAI (1936), 23-25.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Town and Regional Planning Act 1934' 1936 IB 78, 7,21 Mar 1936, 197,237.
Robertson, Manning Durdin Dun Laoghaire, its History, Scenery and Development 1936 Dublin: Hely, 1936. (Reviewed or noted in IB 78, 3 Oct 1936, 884.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin Dun Laoghaire: the history, scenery and development of the district:: prepared in connection with the Town Planning Survey 1936 Dun Laoghaire Borough Corporation, 1936.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Town Planning, Dun Laoghaire' 1937 IB 79, 12 Jun 1937, 515. (Text or note of broadcast talk.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Garden Cities and Town Planning Conference and Tour, 1938' 1938 IB 80, 23 Jul 1938, 605.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Town planning in Limerick' 1938 IB 80, 30 Apr 1938, 345.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Empire Exhibition at Glasgow' 1938 IB 80, 9 Jul 1938, 563.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Traffic experiences in England' 1938 IB 80, 17 Sep 1938, 779
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Posters and the Public' 1939 IB 81, 9 Dec 1939, 985.
Robertson, Manning Durdin Land Settlement in Ireland 1939 Berlin: Verlag Siedlung und Wirtschaft, 1939.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The layman and architecture' 1939 'Architecture Yesterday and Today', supplement to Irish Times, 21 Jun 1939, 14
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Cities of the Future' 1941 IB 83, 20 Dec 1941, 575. (Text or summary of paper read to Presbyterian Association, Dublin, 16 Nov 1941.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'In Memoriam: Wren City Churches' 1941 IB 83, 1 Feb 1941, 55
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'List of Houses designed by R.M. Butler' 1943 IB 85, 27 Feb 1943, 82.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The legal side of town planning' 1943 IB 85, 23 Oct 1943, 412.
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Planning the future Dublin' 1943 IB 85, 27 Mar,10 Apr 1943, 121,137. (Paper read at RDS.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The Plan for Cork City' 1944 IB 86, 21 Oct 1944, 417-420 (illus.) (Summary of lecture to Cork Corporation on proposed development plan, Oct 1944.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'Commonsense development' 1945 IB 87, 27 Jan 1945, 40. (Summary of extension lecture given at UCC.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin 'The Golden Section or Golden Cut: The Mystery of Proportion in Design' ? RIBAJ 55 (1947-48), 536-545.
Robertson, Manning Durdin & Nora Kathleen The Foundations of Architecture 1929 London: Arnold, 1929 . (Reviewed in IB 71, 7 Dec 1929, 1084.)
Robertson, Manning Durdin, & Wilshere, Reginald Sharman Town planning in Ireland 1944 Dublin: Dundalgan Press, 1944.
Robertson, Nora Kathleen 'Gothic Gardening' 1928 AJ 68, 19 Sep 1928, 395.