Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of London, for whom see Directory of British Architects 1834-1914 (RIBA 2001), II, 782-3.(1) In 1896, when he was in partnership with Edward Thomas, Alfred Brumwell Thomas won the competition for designing the new Belfast city hall. The building, which was begun in 1898, opened in August 1906 and gained Thomas a knighthood later the same year.(2) In 1924 or 1925 Thomas was invited by the Corporation to design the Garden of Remembrance in Belfast, but his engagement was terminated before the much-delayed completion of the contract.(3) Thomas had had earlier differences with the Corporation: in 1903 the councillors objected to the cost of the stand which he had designed for the unveiling of Queen Victoria's statue,(4) and in 1907 he was forced to serve a writ for outstanding fees of £13,000.(5)

According to his obituary in the Irish Builder, Thomas was a frequent visitor to Belfast. He had visions for the improvement of the city and tried unsuccessfully to persuade Lord Craigavon that the Northern Ireland Parliament Buildings should be built in the markets area of Belfast instead of at Stormont.(6) In 1925 in an address to the Rotary Club of Belfast on 'The Art of Architecture', he envisaged a 'Triple Square Plan' according to which the central garden in Donegall Square would be balanced by two other squares at the east end of Chichester Street and and the west end of Wellington Place 'each with its gardens and noble edifices'.(7) In 1924 it was rumoured that he was going to design a 'palatial' hotel for the city,(8) but nothing appears to have come of this.

See WORKS.



References



(1) A photograph of Thomas is in IB 48, 1 Dec 1906, 949.
(2) IB 48, 17 Nov 1906, 927.
(3) IB 69, 5 Feb 1927, 92.
(4) Building News, 13 Nov 1903, 676.
(5) IB 49, 18 May 1907, 358.
(6) IB 90, 7 Feb 1948, 98.
(7) IB 67, 2 May 1925, 341.
(8) IB 66, 4 Oct 1924, 869.


5 work entries listed in chronological order for THOMAS, ALFRED BRUMWELL (SIR) #


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Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, DONEGALL SQUARE, CITY HALL
Date: 1897-1906
Nature: ABT winner of competition. FS laid, 18 Oct 1898. Building 'near completion, Oct 1905. Opened by Lord Leiutenant (Earl of Aberdeen) 1 Aug 1906. Builder: H. & J. Martin, Belfast.. Stained glass by (1)Campbell, (2)Ward & Partners; (3)Clokey, all of Belfast. Oak fittings by Goodall, Lamb, and Heighway, of Manchester. Carving: Winter & Thompson.
Refs: PRONI, W.H. Stephens & Sons papers, D1898/1/24; RA 1907, no. 1512; IB 38, 15 Jul,15 Aug,1 Oct,1,15 Dec 1896, 149,173,203,243,255; 39, 1 Dec 1897, 229; 42, 1 Jan 1900, 227(illus.); 43, 10 Oct,7 Nov 1901, 888,896(illus.),928; 44, 30 Jan 1902, 1020; 45, 2 Jul 1903, 1854; 46, 27 Feb 1904, 106; 47, 14 Jan,21 Oct 1905, 6,746; 48, 28 Jul,11 Aug,8,22 Sep 1906, 585,642,657(illus.),724,728(illus.),753(illus.),764(illus.),784(illus.); 68, 23 Jan 1926, 46; 98, 11 Aug 1956, 724; Building News70, 20 May 1896, 805; 71, 4,11 Dec 1896, 805-6, ?; 73, 9 Jul 1897, 46 (illus. in supplement); 86, 19 Feb 1904, 262-3; 90, 5 Jan 1906, 53; 91, 10 Aug 1906, 174-176(illus.); 92, 21 Jun 1907, 875; 94, 3 Jan 1908, 8-10(illus.);  Irish Times, 21 Sep 1898;  B 91, 18 Aug 1906, 233-5,248 (illus.); Architectural Review 20, ? ? 1906, 188; Architect's Journal 24, ? ? 1906, 316,342(illus.); C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of Belfast (2nd ed., 1985), 65-67; Paul Larmour, Belfast: an illustrated architectural guide (1987), 60-61 (no. 239, illus.); Marcus Patton, Central Belfast: an historical gazetteer (UAHS, 1993), 110-114;  Paul Larmour, Belfast City Hall: an architectural history (UAHS, 2010).

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, DONEGALL SQUARE, CITY HALL, DUFFERIN & AVA MEMORIAL
Date: 1906
Nature: Designed by ABT; figures of Marquess and supporters on monument by F.W. Pomeroy.. Unveiled 1906.
Refs: Model of monument exh. by F.W. Pomeroy at RA 1906, no. 1615; C.E.B. Brett, Buildings of Belfast (2nd ed., 1985), 67, Pl.72; Marcus Patton, Central Belfast: an historical gazetteer (UAHS, 1993), 115,171(illus.)

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, DONEGALL SQUARE EAST, HOTEL (PROPOSED)
Date: 1923-1926
Nature: Proposed 8-storey, 200-bedroom hotel on site between Ocean Accident Buildings and Wesleyan Methodist Church. Not carried out.
Refs: Papers relating to same, 1923-1926, in PRONI, D4225 (see PRONI e-catalogue).

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, DONEGALL SQUARE, CITY HALL, WAR MEMORIAL CENOTAPH & GARDEN
Date: 1924-1927
Nature: ABT provided [plans for same, 1924, but full design not carried out because ABT was dismissed after disagreements about contractual arrangements. Cenotaph designed by ABT completed, 1927. Detailed final design for surroundings provided by Young & Mackenzie, 1928-29.
Refs: Paul Harron, Architects of Ulster: Young & Mackenzie, a transformational provincial practice 1850-1960 (Ulster Architectural Heritage Society, 2016), 18(illus.),361(illus.), citing Paul Larmour, Belfast City Hall: an architectural history (UAHS, 2010), 148-151.171.

Building: CO. ANTRIM, BELFAST, DONEGALL SQUARE, CENOTAPH AND GARDEN OF REMEMBRANCE
Date: 1925-27
Nature: Designed by ABT for Belfast Corporation, but engagement terminated before completion of contract. Contractor: W.J. Campbell & Son.
Refs: Volume, 1923-1933, and file , 1926-27, relating to same in PRONI, LA 7/16//BA/2 and LA/7/29/BA/49 (see PRONI e-catalogue); IB 67, 18 Apr 1925, 314; 69, 5 Feb,20 Aug 1927, 92,606(illus.); Paul Larmour, Belfast: an illustrated architectural guide (1987), 60 (sub no. 139); Marcus Patton, Central Belfast: an historical gazetteer (UAHS, 1993), 115