Thomas Baldwin (architect)

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Thomas Baldwin (c.1750 – 7 March 1820) was an English surveyor and architect in Bath.

He did not originally hail from Bath but was first recorded in the city in 1774, where he was initially a clerk (later builder and assistant) to plumber, glazier, and politician Thomas Warr Attwood. By 1775, he was appointed as the Bath City Architect after Attwood's death. During the construction of the Guildhall during 1775, he was officially appointed the position of Bath City Surveyor. He was surveyor to the Pulteney Estate and planned the development of Bathwick as well as being responsible for much of the building. Around the same time he was appointed to the Office of Architect and Surveyor for the Improvement Commissioners (formed by the Bath Improvement Act of 1789) on 9 April 1790 (at a salary of 200 pounds per annum), which he held until 1793.

Baldwin married Elizabeth Chapman in St James' Church, Bath on 15 September 1779, which is ironic because it was designed by John Palmer of Bath between 1768–1769, the man who would investigate and destroy Baldwin's reputation, and then steal his commissions and positions. The Chapmans were a local political family, and a month after his marriage he was appointed Deputy Chamberlain to the Corporation of Bath. He was again appointed to this post on 7 January 1782, and again on 6 October 1783. His salary for this post, as recorded in October 1790 was 210 pounds per annum. He began to quarrel with the Corporation and was dismissed from this post in October 1791.

Rival architect John Palmer began investigating Baldwin and at the same time stole commissions from him, including the enlargement scheme (adding an attic story) of the General Hospital. After Baldwin submitted his records to the Improvement Commissioners, Palmer was then appointed to investigate the work carried out on the Pump Room on 14 December 1792. Palmer naturally found issues and ordered work there stopped. By 17 May 1793, a committee was formed by the Improvement Commissioners to investigate Baldwin and he was dismissed (on 28 June 1793). This was followed by being dismissed from his other positions in 1793 for financial irregularities, although he was able to maintain the Pulteney office. A creditor named Edmunds commenced bankruptcy procedures against him on 15 August 1793 and he was finally declared so on 26 August 1802, which allowed him to re-launch his career after that.

His estate was sold on 16 January 1793 but he continued to practise as an architect until his death in 1820. Indeed, former assistants such as John Eveleigh continued to advertise that they had worked under him, indicating that although his downfall had been quite public, his name still carried some respect. He is generally have thought to have been too caught up in the frenzy of building decadent Georgian Bath in its final years (the great building projects ceased after 1793 and Brighton then became the new Bath) and to have been overworked to the point of allowing clerical errors. Baldwin historian Jane Root, however, assessed that "he had a history not merely of imprudence, but of deliberate dishonesty."

He died at age 70 in his Great Pulteney Street terrace house home he designed. He was buried at St. Michael's, Bath on 14 March 1820.

He was one of the leading architects of Georgian Bath, designing some of its principal buildings, mainly in a Palladian style, with Adamesque detailing.

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Preceded by
Thomas Warr Attwood
Bath City Architect
1775–1793
Succeeded by
John Palmer
Preceded by
Thomas Warr Attwood
Bath City Surveyor
1775–1793
Succeeded by
John Palmer
Preceded by
Post created
Surveyor to the Pulteney Estate
?–Retained after 1793
Succeeded by
John Pinch the elder