Quantity surveyor and civil engineer, of Dublin. Benjamin Thomas Patterson, a younger son of George Patterson, builder, of Harrymount, Upper Leeson Street and brother of HENRY PATTERSON , was born in Dublin in 1837. On 14 July 1855, after working for a year as a clerk in the Valuation Office, he became book-keeper to DEANE & WOODWARD at a salary of £40 per annum. While working for Deane & Woodward he also studied engineering at Trinity College, Dublin, to which he was admitted, aged nineteen, on 2 November 1855, graduating as a Licentiate in Civil Engineering in 1859. In January 1860 he set up in private practice as a building surveyor, though he continued to act as Deane & Woodward's book-keeper until the following year. In 1862 he joined his fellow surveyors WILLIAM DOOLIN and EDWARD GRIBBON in an arrangement whereby they agreed to share work and fees, and a year later he made a similar agreement with a London surveying partnership named Meakin & Dudgeon. Both associations came to an end in the mid 1860s.
In 1868 Patterson, in addition to his surveying work, accepted the position of engineer and architect to the Arklow Chemical Works for the erection of their new works and in the same year he also bought the Courtown Brick and Drainage Works. These new responsibilities were one of the reasons for his decision to take a partner in the person of JOHN KEMPSTER , son of JAMES FORTH KEMPSTER . The contract, signed on 8 February 1872, stipulated that James Kempster was to pay Patterson £1,000 in exchange for a share of profits sof 25% in the first two years, 28% in the third year and 33% in the fourth. At the time he formed the partnership, Patterson had taken on some work as an architect and apparently had ambitions to devote more - or even most - of his time to architecture in the future. However, for various reasons, this did not happen, and his architectural output remained small.
Patterson attempted to bring quantity surveying into line with practice in England, where surveyors had a direct relationship with the client and often worked in partnership with architects. In the words of his obituary in the Irish Builder, he was 'the doyen and practically the originator of the quantity surveyor's profession in Ireland'. In addition to his quantity surveying work, he was much in demand for arbitrations and as an expert witness, as well as undertaking occasional architectural commissions. He increasingly left Kempster to run the business after buying a country property, Dunran House, Co. Wicklow, in 1892. In 1901 the migraines from which he had suffered for many years became more frequent, and in January 1904 he made a new partnership agreement with Kempster, whereby Kempster was to take over the business and management of the firm, retaining 75 per cent of the profits, while Patterson would have no duties unless called upon by Kempster, who would pay him three guineas a day.
Patterson died at Dunran at the age of seventy on 17 August 1907 and was buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery. He had married in 1867 and had two sons and three daughters. The business was carried on initially by Kempster and then by ERNEST JOHN ANTHONY , who became Kempster's partner in 1908. His pupils and assistants included EDWARD NEVILL BANKS.
The Irish Architectural Archive holds a large and important archive of records from the office of Patterson, Kempster and Shortall, as the firm later became known.(Acc. 77/1) It includes Patterson's diaries, which record both his professional and his domestic doings from 1863 until the end of his life.
ICEI: elected associate, 1861.
RIAI: elected associate, 17 December 1863; elected member, 28 Nov 1878, having been proposed by GEORGE CARLISLE HENDERSON and seconded by ALBERT EDWARD MURRAY and JAMES HIGGINS OWEN ; rendered ineligible as surveyor for membership under new bye-law, 1885.
Addresses: Work: 1 Sandford Place, 1860; 206 (later 205) Great Brunswick Street, 1860-1869; 17 Kildare Street, 1869-1874; 11 Kildare Street, 1874-1885; 11 Leinster Street, 1885-1893; 11 Leinster Street and 9 Hume Street, 1893-1897; 95 Lower Leeson Street, 1897 until death.
Home: Harrymount, 63 Upper Leeson Street, 1863; 75 Upper Leeson Street, <=1874->=1875; Harrymount, 64 Upper Leeson Street, 1876?->=1896; also Dunran House, Ashford, Co. Wicklow, 1892 until death.
All information in this entry not otherwise accounted for is from the obituary of Patterson in IB 49, 24 Aug 1907, 590, from Frederick O'Dwyer, The Architecture of Deane and Woodward (1997), 287, and from Gordon Aston's typescript history, 'One hundred years of quantity surveying: the annals of Patterson & Kempster 1860 to 1960' (copy in IAA)
Alumni Dublinenses 1846-1860, 94; R.C. Cox, compiler, Trinity College School of Engineering: 'Graduates' in Engineering 1843-1992 (1993), unpaginated.
In the event the factory was designed by the manager, John Morrison, Patterson's role apparently being more that of consultant.
The brickworks did not flourish and were sold in 1875.
Neither these diaries nor Patterson's letter books, used by Gordon Aston for his history, have been read through extensively for the purposes of this entry.
IB 12, 15 Aug 1870, 197.
RIAI council meeting minutes, 26 Nov 1863, 8; general meeting minutes, 17 Dec 1863, 134.
RIAI council meeting minutes, 13 Nov 1878, 214.
RIAI council meeting minutes, 2 Mar 1885, 241.
From Thom's and Post Office directories.
See Harrymount, under WORKS.