Percy Thomas

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City and County of Swansea Guildhall (1930–34)

Sir Percy Edward Thomas OBE (13 September 1883 – 19 August 1969) was an English architect based in Wales for the majority of his life. He was twice RIBA president (1935–37 and 1943–46).


Percy Edward Thomas was born on 13 September 1883 in South Shields, County Durham, the son of a sea captain from Narberth in Pembrokeshire, with whom the family often travelled.[1] The family moved to Cardiff during the 1890s and Captain Thomas died at sea in 1897.

Percy Thomas began work in a shipping office, but changed to a career in architecture on advice from a phrenologist.[1] In 1903 he won the architecture competition at the National Eisteddfod of Wales in Llanelli.[1] After several years working in England, he began collaborating with Ivor Jones of Cardiff, and they went into partnership in 1913.[1]

During the First World War he joined the Artists Rifles in 1915, and served on the Western Front.

After the war he returned to Cardiff.[1] He was commissioned by David Davies, 1st Baron Davies of Llandinam, to design the Temple of Peace in Cathays Park.[1]

As a designer of civic buildings, such as Central Police Station, Bristol, Swansea Guildhall (1930–34), Swinton & Pendlebury Town Hall, Lancashire and Hiatt Baker Hall, Bristol (1966), he was a rival to Arthur John Hope.[citation needed] Other works by him included the campus of Aberystwyth University. He was elected president of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1935 (until 1937) and awarded their Royal Gold Medal in 1939.[2] He was knighted in 1946.

Percy Thomas became seriously ill in 1962, retiring from the company in 1963.[1] He died on 19 August 1969.

Percy Thomas Partnership[edit]

The company established by Percy Thomas was based in Cardiff, and put its name to several landmark buildings[3] in Wales and England, the most recent being the Wales Millennium Centre. The practice lasted for 94 years and ultimately became known as the Percy Thomas Partnership.

In June 2004 Percy Thomas Partnership went into administration after cancellations or delays of key projects. They were bought by the large British outsourcing company, Capita, who created a new arm of their property consultancy division called Capita Percy Thomas.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g National Library of Wales Dictionary of Welsh Biography THOMAS, Sir PERCY EDWARD (1883–1969)
  2. ^ RIBA website RIBA Gold Medallists 1848–2008 Archived 2 February 2014 at the Wayback Machine (viewed 17 October 2011)
  3. ^ Percy Thomas Partnership, e-architect, 12 February 2010, retrieved 28 June 2010
  4. ^ Gates, C. PFI fells Welsh giant Building Design, Issue 1630, 18 June 2004, p. 1