Thomas Cecil Howitt

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Thomas Cecil Howitt, OBE (6 June 1889 - September 1968) an eminent British provincial architect of the 20th Century, was born on 6 June 1889, at Hucknall, near Nottingham.

Howitt is chiefly remembered for designing prominent public buildings, such as the Council House and Processional Way in Nottingham, Baskerville House in Birmingham (first phase of the unrealised Civic Centre scheme), Newport Civic Centre, and several Odeon cinemas (such as Weston-super-Mare and Bristol). Howitt's chief architectural legacies are however, in his home city of Nottingham. He was Housing Architect for the City Council, designing municipal housing estates which are often considered to be among the finest in terms of planning in the country.

Early years[edit]

Howitt was educated at Nottingham High School, leaving in 1904 to be apprenticed to the prominent Nottingham architect, Albert Nelson Bromley. Bromley was architect to the Nottingham School Board and did extensive work for the Boots Company. In 1907, Howitt studied briefly at the Architectural Association School in London. He later opened a London branch office for Bromley, before returning to the Nottingham office until 1913.

Following a study tour of Europe in early 1914, Howitt was invited to become the company architect for Boots, however, the war soon intervened. Howitt was commissioned in November 1914, rising to the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel in the Leicestershire Regiment. He was awarded the Distinguished Service Order and French Croix de Guerre, as well as a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur (for action at the Battle of the Marne). Howitt was demobilised with the rank of Major in October 1919, and joined the City Engineer's Department at Nottingham City Council.

Cecil Howitt - Architect[edit]

In 1926, Howitt's rising status in the profession was marked by election as a member of the RIBA Council. The following year, he made a study tours of the USA and Canada and in 1928 to Denmark and Sweden (where he saw Stockholm Town Hall-writing an article about it for the local Nottingham Guardian).

As work on the Council House came towards completion, Howitt wished to set up his own practice, and after being asked to stay in post until a suitable successor could be appointed, he established an office in Exchange Buildings in December 1930.

Major architectural works[edit]

  • Baskerville House, Centenary Square, Birmingham (1935–39)
  • Birmingham Municipal Bank Head Office, Broad Street, Birmingham (1931–34)
  • Civic Centre, Newport, Monmouthshire (1936–1967)
  • Odeon Cinema, Warley, Worcestershire (exterior only - 1934)
  • Odeon Cinema, Weston-super-Mare (opened May 1935) Grade II listed
  • Odeon Cinema, Clacton-on-Sea, Essex (opened May 1936)
  • Odeon Cinema, Bridgwater, Somerset (opened July 1936)
  • Odeon Cinema, Bristol (opened July 1938)

Selected unbuilt designs[edit]

Later years[edit]

Howitt was actively involved in RIBA matters during the 1950s; effectively leaving the practice in the hands of partners Philip Gerrard and Frederick Woolley. Indeed, the name of the practice was changed to Cecil Howitt & Partners in 1948. Howitt retired from architectural practice in April 1962.

Cecil Howitt died aged 79 in September 1968; in the house he designed for himself, in the village of Orston, Nottinghamshire.

References and Further Reading[edit]

  • Beckett, John and Brand, Ken: (2004) The Council House, Nottingham and the Old Market Square (Nottingham Civic Society) ISBN 1-902443-09-8
  • Pevsner, N. (2nd Edition,1978) The Buildings of England: Nottinghamshire (Penguin Books)
  • Scoffham, Ernie: (1992) A Vision of the City: The Architecture of TC Howitt (Nottinghamshire County Council Leisure Services) ISBN 0-900943-44-0

External links[edit]