Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Housing architect to Dublin Corporation from 1932 until 1948. Herbert George Simms, son of George William Simms, train driver,of 33 Victoria Road, London, was born in London on 30 November 1898. He was educated at Haverstock Industrial and Commercial School. During the First World War he served in the Royal Field Artillery, and, as a result, was awarded an ex-service scholarship of £150 and tuition fees for three years which enabled him to study architecture at Liverpool University. He entered the university in October 1919 but had to give up the Diploma course for financial reasons when the three years were up. By this time he had received the Certificate in Architecture in 1921 and had passed the third and fourth years of the Diploma course in June 1921 and June 1922. On the grounds of his previous office experience and the standard he had reached in his studies, he was permitted to take the course for the Certificate in Civic Design in the summer term of 1922 in lieu of practical work. He was awarded the Certificate in March 1923.

On leaving the university Simms came to Dublin, where he worked for a time in the office of AUBREY VINCENT O'ROURKE AUBREY VINCENT O'ROURKE . In February 1925 he was appointed temporary architect to Dublin Corporation at a salary of eight guineas per week.(1) The appointment, initially for six months, was extended at least until December 1927.(2) In 1926 he was authorized to visit London, Liverpool and Manchester to investigate the latest trends in flat buildings.(3) In 1929-1930 he worked for about a year in India as a town planner in the Punjab, before returning to Dublin.

Until 1932 new housing in Dublin had been the responsibility of the city architect, HORACE O'ROURKE HORACE O'ROURKE . Between 1923 and 1931 new dwellings were being erected at an average rate of 555 per annum, but the shortage of adequate housing in the city remained acute. In 1932 or 1933 a separate housing architect's Department was formed with specific responsibility for the design and erection of new dwellings, as distinct from their administration and maintenance. Simms was appointed to the new post of Corporation housing architect. He immediately recruited a temporary staff to assist him in the task which confronted him.(4) In 1935 alone 1,552 dwellings were completed.(5) During the sixteen years he was in office, Simms was responsible for for the design and erection of some 17,000 new homes,(6) ranging from striking blocks of flats in the central city, influenced, as Rothery points out, by new apartment blocks by de Klerk in Amsterdam and J.P. Oud in Rotterdam,(7) to extensive suburban housing schemes such as those at Crumlin and Cabra.

When Horace O'Rourke retired in 1945, the post of city architect remained unfilled, which increased the pressure of work on the housing architect. On 28 September 1948 Simms, who had already suffered one nervous breakdown, took his own life by throwing himself onto the railway line at Dun Laoghaire; he was not killed immediately but died later the same day at St Michael's Hospital, Dun Laoghaire. According to the suicide note found on his person, he felt that overwork was threatening his sanity. He was survived by his widow, Eileen (1908-1978), daughter of Garda Superintendent Thomas Clarke of Mount Merrion, Co. Dublin, whom he had married in 1929.(8)   He was buried in Deansgrange cemetery.(9)

A tribute by Ernest F.N. Taylor, the city surveyor , was published in the Irish Builder: 'Behind a quiet and unassuming manner there lurked a forceful personality; and Mr Simms could uphold his point of view with a vigour that sometimes surprised those who did not know him well. By sheer hard work and conscientious devotion to duty, he has made a personal contribution towards the solution of Dublin's housing problem, probably unequalled by anyone in our time…It is not given to many of us to achieve so much in the space of a short lifetime for the benefit of our fellow men.' (10)

RIAI: elected member, 1939, having been proposed by JOHN JOSEPH ROBINSON JOHN JOSEPH ROBINSON , seconded by RICHARD CYRIL KEEFE  RICHARD CYRIL KEEFE and HARRY ALLBERRY. HARRY ALLBERRY. (11)
RIBA: elected associate, 11 June 1923, having sat the Special War Exam and been proposed by C.H Reilly, John Murray and Sir Henry Tanner.(12) Diploma in Town Planning, 1928; elected fellow, September 1943, having been proposed by JOHN JOSEPH ROBINSON JOHN JOSEPH ROBINSON , PATRICK ABERCROMBIE  PATRICK ABERCROMBIE and FREDERICK GEORGE HICKS. FREDERICK GEORGE HICKS. (13)
Town Planning Institute: associate, 1928; member, 1932.

Addresses: Work: 3 Parliament Street, 1933-1938;(14) 5 Wellington Quay, 1940-1947.
Home: 45 Mobhi Road, Glasnevin, <=1939-1948.

See WORKS and BIBLIOGRAPHY BIBLIOGRAPHY



References

All information in this article not otherwise accounted for is from the records of Liverpool University School of Architecture, kindly supplied by Adrian Allan, University Archivist, and from the obituaries of Simms in RIAI Year Book (1949), 25, and Irish Times, ? Oct 1948. See also David O'Connor, 'Housing in Dublin 1887-1987', Irish Architect 67 (Jun-Aug 1988), 30-33; 'Public Housing 1839-1989' in J. Graby, ed.150 Years of Architecture in Ireland: RIAI 1839-1989 (1989), and 'Slums and other housing problems' in 'Architecture Yesterday and Today', supplement to Irish Times, 21 Jun 1939, 34. Some of his housing is illustrated in Architectural Design, July 1947, 189.  While no formal portait photographs are known, snapshots of him appear in two personal photograph albums, now (2011) the property of Pauline Williams, his widow's daughter by a second marriage. Scanned copies of these are in the IAA. (ref. 2011/136). 

(1) IB 67, 7 Feb 1925, 73,114.
(2) IB 69, 19 Mar 1927, 198.
(3) Ruth McManus, Dublin 1910-1940: Shaping the City & Suburbs (2002), 135. According to the evidence of his photograph albums, he revisited these cites when he attended the fourteenth International Housing and Town Planning Congress in 1935.
(4) IB 75, 26 Aug 1933, 714.
(5) See Simms's article in Centenary Celebration of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and Conference of The Royal Institute of British Architects 21st to 24th June 1939, 47-56.
(6) IB 90, 16 Oct 1948, 836.
(7) Sean Rothery, Ireland and the New Architecture 1900-1940 (1991), 150-151. Some of these are illustrated in AJ 89, 22 Jun 1939, 1086, Architectural Design, July 1947, 189, and Rothery, op. cit, 151-154.  While Simms's photograph albums (see above) record visits to Germany in 1935 and Austria and Hungary in 1936, they provide no evidence that he actually visited the Netherlands. 
(8) Irish Times, 29 Sep, 1 Oct 1948;  information kindly supplied by Enda MacMahon in e-mail to editor, Jun 2009, citing marriage certificate in General Register Office.
(9) Information from Enda MacMahon, as above, citing Deansgrange burial records, Dublin civic Archive.
(10) IB 90, 16 Oct 1948, 836.
(11) Jones transcript from RIAI council? Minutes, 1939; JRIAI (1940), 18.
(12) RIBAJ 30 (1922-23), ?.
(13) RIBAJ (1942-43), 248; IB 85, 23 Oct 1943, 412.
(14) IB 75, 17 Jun 1933, 525; 80, 8 Jan 1938, 31.


35 work entries listed in chronological order for SIMMS, HERBERT GEORGE


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Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARROWBONE LANE HOUSING AREA, FLATS
Date: 1930-1942
Nature: 2 4-storey L-shaped blocks of flats, for Dublin Corporation. Contractor: E. & W. Dempsey.
Refs: IAA, PKS 0294, 0523; IB 79, 4 Sep 1937, 798;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 664;
Paul Larmour, Free State Architecture:  Modern Movement architecture in Ireland, 1922-1949 (Kinsale: Gandon Editions, 2009), 32,33(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ANNAMOE ROAD (CABRA) HOUSING AREA, HOUSES
Date: 1933
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of 289 3-room and 14 4-room houses. For Dublin Corporation. Contract given to G. & T. Crampton, Dublin (£95,830).
Refs: IB 75, 3,17 Jun 1933, 472,525;  Ruth McManus, Crampton Built (Dublin: G. & T. Crampton, 2008), 109.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COOK STREET HOUSING AREA, FLATS
Date: 1933
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of 13 blocks of flats, for Dublin Corporation. (This is probably the St Audoen's House development,  see CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COOK STREET (& BRIDGE STREET), ST AUDOEN'S HOUSE.
Refs: IB 75, 30 Dec 1933, 1130.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MARY'S LANE, FLATS
Date: 1934
Nature: New, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 76, 28 Jul 1934, 621(illus.);  Paul Larmour, Free State Architecture:  Modern Movement architecture in Ireland, 1922-1949 (Kinsale: Gandon Editions, 2009). 32,33(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, NORTH LOTTS AREA, HOUSES
Date: 1934
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of 466 3-room and 94 4-room houses, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 76, 8 Sep 1934, 774

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CUMBERLAND STREET NORTH, FLATS & PENNY DINNER HALL
Date: 1934
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of same, for Dubln Corporation.
Refs: IB 76, 20 Oct 1934, 888

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COOK STREET (& BRIDGE STREET), ST AUDOEN'S HOUSE
Date: 1934
Nature: 'Corporation housing begun in 1934...Four-storey, brick-clad ranges with hipped roofs, shaped parapets, an angle clock tower and rendered galleried courtyard elevations with stair-towers.'
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 369.


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HANOVER ST HOUSING AREA, FLATS
Date: 1934-1935
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of 76 flats, for Dublin Corporation. Contract given to G. & T. Crampton, Dublin (£33,546), 7 Dec 1934;  contract for further 6 blocks given to G. & T. Crampton, May 1935. 
Refs: Perspective view in David O'Connor, 'Public Housing 1839-1989' in J. Graby, ed.150 Years of Architecture in Ireland: RIAI 1839-1989 (1989), 82, and David O'Connor, 'Housing in Dublin 1887-1987', Irish Architect 67 (Jun-Aug 1988), 33; IB 76, 25 Aug 1934, 727;  Ruth McManus, Crampton Built (Dublin: G. & T. Crampton, 2008),  110-112(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CHANCERY PLACE, CHANCERY HOUSE
Date: 1934-1935
Nature: Public housing flats for Dublin Corporation. Contractor: G. & T. Crampton.
Refs: IAA, PKS 0183, 0992; IB 76, 19 May 1934, 438;  Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005),  113;
 Paul Larmour, Free State Architecture:  Modern Movement architecture in Ireland, 1922-1949 (Kinsale: Gandon Editions, 2009), 32,33(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, TOWNSEND STREET (& MARK STREET), COUNTESS MARKIEVICZ HOUSE
Date: 1934-1936
Nature: 'A U-shaped galleried complex, ...it is a planar four-storey flat-roofed building of yellow brickw with extensive red-brick dressings...The long entrance front to Townsend Street has advanced terminal blocks and full-height tower-like portals...'.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 459, Pl.96.


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CRUMLIN HOUSING AREA, HOUSES
Date: 1934-1944
Nature: Largest housing scheme in state consisting of ca. 5000 houses.  G. & T. Crampton contractors for 537 houses in Section 6 of Crumlin South scheme (£162,000) and for 453 houses in Section 4 of Crumlin North Scheme (£229,699.15s), 567 in Section 2 of same, 282 in Section 1A and 250 in section 2B of same.
Refs: IAA, PKS 0506; IB 76, 10 Mar,7,21 Apr 1934, 206,291,339(illus.); 77, 21 Sep 1935, 880; 78, 25 Jan,2 May 1936, 74,390; 79, 26 Jun 1937, 594; 81, 10 Jun 1939, 509; ; 82, 9 Nov 1940, 687;  Ruth McManus, Crampton Built (Dublin: G. & T. Crampton, 2008), 112-117(illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, RAILWAY STREET HOUSING AREA, FLATS
Date: 1936
Nature: Tenders invited for erecting 6 blocks of flats containing 81 flats, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 78, 16 May 1936, 435,437

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, THORNCASTLE STREET (RINGSEND), FLATS
Date: 1936
Nature: 2 blocks of flats, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 78, 26 Dec 1936, 1182

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HENRIETTA PLACE, FLATS (HENRIETTA HOUSE)
Date: 1936
Nature: 2 blocks of flats, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 78, 26 Dec 1936, 1182

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HANOVER STREET, PEARSE HOUSE
Date: 1936
Nature: Block of flats for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 459.


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, WATLING STREET, FLATS
Date: 1936-1938
Nature: 3 blocks of 24 unit flats around a courtyard, for Dublin Corporation. Contractor: G. & T. Crampton.
Refs: IB 78, 11 Jan 1936, 36; 80, 25 Jun 1938, 521(illus.);  Ruth McManus, Crampton Built (Dublin: G. & T. Crampton, 2008), 104(illus.);  Paul Larmour, Free State Architecture:  Modern Movement architecture in Ireland, 1922-1949 (Kinsale: Gandon Editions, 2009), 32(illus.).


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, TOWNSEND STREET HOUSING AREA, FLATS & SHOPS
Date: 1936-1942
Nature: 6 blocks of flats & 12 shops, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IAA, PKS 0020, 1121,1122; IB 78, 3 Oct 1936, 901

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, POPLAR ROW, FLATS
Date: 1936-39
Nature: 111 flat units, for Dublin Corporation. Contractor: C.S. Downey.
Refs: IB 78, 22 Aug 1936, 758; 81, 18 Mar 1939, 241(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, HAROLD'S CROSS, FLATS & HOUSES
Date: 1936-40
Nature: Flats, 3- and 4-roomed houses, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IAA, PKS 0345, 0405, 0426, 0505; IB 78, 26 Dec 1936, 1182; 79, 9 Jan 1937, 33

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, PORTLAND ROW, ALDBOROUGH HOUSE HOUSING AREA, FLATS
Date: 1936;1940
Nature: 4 blocks of flats for Dublin Corporation. Contractor: G. & T. Crampton. Foreman: Jimmy Davenport.
Refs: IAA, PKS 0104, 0182; IB 78, 14 Nov 1936, 1041;  Ruth McManus, Crampton Built (Dublin: G. & T. Crampton, 2008), 104(illus.).


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COOK STREET, FLATS (OLIVER BOND HOUSE)
Date: 1937
Nature: 2 blocks of flats at Usher St & Cook St, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 79, 27 Nov 1937, 1062; Irish Architect 67 (Jun-Aug 1988), 12(illus.); David O'Connor, 'Public Housing 1839-1989'in J. Graby, ed.150 Years of Architecture in Ireland: RIAI 1839-1989 (1989), 84(illus.),85

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, USHER STREET, FLATS (OLIVER BOND HOUSE)
Date: 1937
Nature: 2 blocks of flats at Usher St & Cook St, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 79, 27 Nov 1937, 1062; David O'Connor, 'Public Housing 1839-1989'in J. Graby, ed.150 Years of Architecture in Ireland: RIAI 1839-1989 (1989), 84(illus.),85

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, TERENURE HOUSING AREA, HOUSES
Date: 1937
Nature: 70 3-4oom and 239 4-room houses for Dublin Corporation. Contractor: G. & T. Crampton (£120,000).
Refs: IB 79, 23 Jan 1937, 88;  Ruth McManus, Crampton Built (Dublin: G. & T. Crampton, 2008), 119-120.

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ELLENFIELD HOUSING AREA, HOUSES
Date: 1937-1938
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of 182 houses, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 79, 11 Dec 1937, 1108; 80, 19 Feb 1938, 153

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, MERCER STREET UPPER, MERCER HOUSE
Date: 1937a
Nature: Block of flats for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 79, 26 Jun 1937, 568((illus.); David O'Connor, 'Housing in Dublin 1887-1897', Irish Architect 67 (Jun-Aug 1988), 31(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, JAMES'S STREET HOUSING AREA, FLATS
Date: 1938
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of 6 blocks of flats, for Dublin Corporation. ((Do these include Mary Aitkenhead House. q.v.?)
Refs: IB 80, 8 Jan 1938, 31

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, LARKHILL (WHITEHALL), HOUSING ESTATE
Date: 1938-1941
Nature: New housing estate.
Refs: IB 80, 16 Apr 1938, 325; 83, 15 Mar 1941, 131(illus.)

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, RIALTO HOUSING AREA, HOUSING SCHEME (FATIMA MANSIONS)
Date: 1938-1946
Nature: 15 blocks of flats, for Dublin Corporation. Contractor: G. & T. Crampton, Dublin.
Refs: IAA, PKS 0267, 1118; IB 82, 26 Oct 1940, 654; Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 669;
  Ruth McManus, Crampton Built (Dublin: G. & T. Crampton, 2008), 137-140(Illus.).

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, JAMES'S STREET (& BASIN STREET), MARY AITKENHEAD HOUSE
Date: 1938-39
Nature: Quadrangular, 4-storey block with galleried court. For Dublin Corporation.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 663.


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, EMMET ROAD (KILMAINHAM) HOUSING AREA, HOUSES
Date: 1938;1940
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of same, for Dublin Corporation..
Refs: IB 80, 25 Jun 1938, 548; 82, 16 Mar 1940, 180

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, CABRA WEST HOUSING SCHEME, HOUSES
Date: 1940
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of same, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: IB 82, 3 Feb,27 Apr,21 Dec 1940, 82,284,762

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, COOK STREET HOUSING AREA, FLATS
Date: 1941
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of same.
Refs: IB 83, 1 Feb 1941, 64

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, DONORE AVENUE, ST THERESA'S GARDENS
Date: 1942-1946
Nature: 12 4-storey apartment blocks for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 661.


Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, SARSFIELD ROAD HOUSING AREA (BALLYFERMOT), HOUSES (203)
Date: 1947
Nature: Tenders invited for erection of same, for Dublin Corporation..
Refs: IB 89, 28 Jun 1947, 484

Building: CO. DUBLIN, DUBLIN, ERNE STREET, LEO FITZGERALD HOUSE
Date: ?
Nature: Block of flats, for Dublin Corporation.
Refs: Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), 459.


Author Title Date Details
Conroy, Eddie 'No rest for twenty years': H.G. Simms and the problem of slum clearance in Dublin' 1997 M.Arch.Sc. thesis, University College, Dublin, 1997.
Simms, Herbert George 'Dublin's municipal housing problems' 1934 IB 76, 21 Apr 1934, 321
Simms, Herbert George 'Municipal Housing Activities in Dublin' 1938p RIAI Centenary Conference Handbook (1939), 47-56
Simms, Herbert George 'Municipal Housing Activities in Dublin' 1939 Centenary Celebration of the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland and Conference of The Royal Institute of British Architects 21st to 24th June 1939, 47-56