Retro: The influence of architects on the county

78 Derngate
78 Derngate
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Architects and their influence on Northamptonshire is the theme of the latest journal by the Northamptonshire Record Society.

Northamptonshire Past and Present has articles about John Alfred Gotch, who was very closely associated with Kettering, and Alexander Ellis Anderson, who designed many buildings in Northampton in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

St Andrew's Church at Arthingworth

St Andrew's Church at Arthingworth

There is also a fascinating article about the restoration of St Andrew’s Church in Arthingworth, near Kettering.

John Alfred Gotch was born in 1852 to a well-established Kettering family with interests in shoe manufacturing and banking, and set up his own private architectural practice in 1879.

In 1887 Gotch joined forces with Charles Saunders, a partnership that was last until they retired in December 1937.

The firm continues to trade as GSS Architecture and still has an office in Kettering.

Kettering Library

Kettering Library

There was a phrase at the time that described Kettering as “the town that Gotch built” as he designed shoe factories, shops, offices, the leisure facilities at Wicksteed Park, the temperance hall, the Alfred East Gallery and the Victoria Hall.

He also designed more than 140 branches for the then Midland Bank, now HSBC, in a nine-year period after the First World War.

Mr Gotch also designed a number of First World War memorials, including the ones at Brigstock, Weldon, Burton Latimer and Kettering.

He died at his home in Weekley on January 17, 1942.

Kettering Council's offices in Bowling Green Road

Kettering Council's offices in Bowling Green Road

As John Alfred Gotch had a big influence on Ketterng, so Alexander Ellis Anderson, a Scottish architect, had a big influence on Northampton.

He moved to the town in 1893 and started his career with Abraham Mosley and William Scrivener, the firm becoming known as Mosley & Anderson when he joined.

During his first years in the town he built a warehouse for Messrs Inglis & Co, leather merchants, on the corner of Dychurch Lane and Fish Street.

The building is now used by Northampton Council. He also worked with the owner of 78 Derngate, Mr Basset-Lowke, on alterations to the property.

The firm also had an office in Finedon and built the Working Men’s Club in Wellingborough Road, as well as Finedon Water Tower.

He was also responsible for rebuilding John Cave & Sons factory in Rushden after it burned down in 1901, as well as the factory for Loake Bros in Kettering.

The factory cost £4,034 13s 0d, and the original bills and specifications are part of the Loake Collection at the Northamptonshire Record Office.

The restoration of churches in the Victorian period did not always go smoothly, as a series of letters between architect J K Colling and the Rev H R Rokeby about the restoration of Arthingworth church, reveal.

Extracts from a series of letters exchanged by the two men are reprinted in the journal.

After the architect has written to the rector with his ideas, Mr Rokeby replied that if the work was “carried out as you suggest it would be impossible to recognise the old church”.

In a further letter Mr Rokeby offers a friend’s opinion and the architect replied, rather tartly: “I think I had better not give any opinion at present upon your friend’s advice as to the restoration of your church”.

The work on the church was finished in 1871 but there were disputes about the costs until July 1873, when the letters end.

Mr Colling was later used by Richard Naylor at Kelmarsh to restore the church there.

To buy a copy of Nortamptonshire Past and Present, which costs £3.50 call the society’s secretary David Harries on 01604 762297, or email enquiries@northamptonshirerecordsociety.org.uk.