8.   'A RIGID ATTENTION TO ECONOMY'.

 

A very general impression seems to exist, to the prejudice, we may observe, of many most deserving men, that good ecclesiastical architects are scarcely to be met with outside of London...  Country architects.., should if competent be patronized, encouraged, instructed and brought forward on every occasion of work having to be done in their district.  There are a great many most important accidents of local practice which are completely neglected by architects introduced from a distant part of the kingdom.  The character of the buildings of the district; the cost and nature of the local materials; the methods of economizing, substituting, constructing, working them; the harmony and uniformity which it is desirable to preserve, and the exact amount of work that can be done for a stated sum of money;  these are all points which should be familiar to the local architect, and are almost sure to be strange to any other.

 

                                        The Ecclesiologist, New Series 1/5, September 1845.

 

 

General Remarks.

 

In fact, notwithstanding the above quotation, it was not easy, even for the provincial Victorian architect to control costs once a building committee had agreed upon a new church, school or parsonage's specification.  When building sites were often donated and the common practice was for contractors to provide their own materials and to include the price of them in their tenders, frequently the only direct influence the architect could exert lay in the choice of those tenders themselves.  Some money might possibly be saved on the outlay on building stone if the mason could be directed to a suitable, proximate source, not commonly available.  Beyond that, a knowledge of local wage rates and the ability to estimate how long a job would take were other important skills an architect's employer relied on him to bring.

 

 

This chapter will consider how Mallinson and Healey worked within the constraints they inevitably encountered and sought to ensure their proposals were both realistic and competitive.  With so much of the cost contracted out to builders, this could only be achieved if the same characteristics were displayed by the masons, carpenters and others that carried out the works, and so it is with the capacity of these men to submit faithful yet affordable tenders in the first place that these considerations will begin.

 

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

 

The Tenders of the Building Departments Compared and the Effects of Distance.

 

Christopher Powell, in a detailed and very revealing paper that attempted to accomplish for the late eighteenth/ early nineteenth century construction industry what chapter six of this study seeks to do for the early Victorian architectural profession, traced the development and evolving work patterns of the general building enterprise, willing to contract for complete building projects at fixed costs, rather than limit itself to the work of a single department such as carpentry or tiling [1]. Mallinson and Healey used a select few of these businesses, notably Isaac Patchett's firm at Queen's Head, but in the majority of cases, perhaps to accord with the general guidance issued by the Church Building Commission (chapter two), chose instead to seek tenders for each department separately.

 

 

These varied a little in the names that were given to them (in particular 'carpenters' v. 'joiners' and 'slaters' v. 'tilers'), but essentially comprised six, viz. (i) the stonemasons' department, (ii) the carpenters' department, (iii) the slaters' department, (iv) the plumbers' and glaziers' department, (v) the plasterers' department, and (vi) the painters' department.  All were obviously necessary, but the financial commitment they involved varied widely as shown in table 8a.  When their final costs, where known, or else their estimated costs, are converted into percentages of the costs of the entire buildings, in either case the mason's contract emerges at about 60% of the total, the carpenters’ contract equates to about 25%, and the other four departments together account for the remaining 15%.  (Note that the slaters at Mount Pellon also did the plastering and the general contractor at Lower Dunsforth was nevertheless not responsible for the carpentry.)  It follows, therefore, that the importance of selecting a tender wisely was especially critical in the masons' and carpenters' departments.

 

 

Table 8a:  Relative Costs of the Different Departments for some of

Mallinson and Healey’s Church Buildings. (Architects’ estimates are shaded grey.)

 

 

CHURCH

WITH DATE

Masons’

Department

Carpenters’ & Joiners’ Dept.

Tiler's & Slater's Dept.

Plumbers’ & Glaziers’ Dept.

Plasterers’ Department

Painters Department

Totals

St. Matthew,

Bankfoot (1848)

£895

(59.7%)

£395

(26.4%)

£73.10s.0d

(4.9%)

£57.10s.0d

(3.8%)

£42.10s.0d

(2.8%)

£35

(2.3%)

£1,498.10s.0d

(99.9%)

St. Michael,

Shelf (1848)

£875

(59.3%)

£390

(26.4%)

£75

(5.1%)

£55

(3.7%)

£45

(3.1%)

£35

(2.4%)

£1,475

(100%)

All Saints’, Richm’d Hill, Leeds (1849)

£1,400

(62.4%)

£510

(22.7%)

£100

(4.5%)

£105

(4.7%)

£70

(3.1%)

£60

(2.7%)

£2,245

(100.1%)

Christ Church, Barkisland (1854)

£796.15s.3d

(57.9%)

£310.16s.10d

(22.6%)

£109.9s.9d

(7.8%)

£72.15s.0d

(3.1%)

£42.4s.4d

(5.3%)

£43.14s.5d

(3.2%)

£1,375.15s.7d

(99.9%)

Christ Church, Mount Pellon (1854)

£977.17s.6d

(61.4%)

£380.9s.10d

(23.9%)

Two

together

£72.10s.0d

(4.6%)

£136.2s.0d

(8.5%)

£26.0s.0d

(1.6%)

£1,592.19s.4d

(100%)

St. Mary, Lower

Dunsforth (1859)

 

£325.18s.11d

(22.9%)

All others

together

£1,091.18s.8d

(77.0%)

 

 

£1,417.17s.7d

(99.9%)

Average %

60.1%

24.2%

5.6%

4.0%

3.6%

2.4%

-

 

 

 

This is to view the matter from the building committee's or architect's point of view of course, but that begs the question of what enabled a contractor to submit a competitive tender in the first place, without placing himself in financial jeopardy or setting out with the deliberate intention of cutting corners in order to make what he knew to be too low a tender, pay.  Could a contractor, for example, seek to follow a particular architect around from job to job and build his business upon an established relationship?  This is suggested in some of the current literature.  Thus for example, in 2014 Michael Hall wrote:

 

'Architects' natural tendency to rely on a small circle of trusted builders and craftsmen was reinforced by the railways, which gave even small firms a national reach customarily exercised only by those in London.  A.W.N. Pugin’s reliance on a favoured builder, George Myers, and a group of firms... for painted decoration...[,] stained glass and metalwork, was paralleled by almost every one of his Gothic revival successors with surprisingly little overlap....  They wholly eschewed major metropolitan contractors, and if possible avoided local builders who were unknown to them.' [2]

 

 

Yet there has also been some counter-argument as when Anthony Quiney, writing in 1979, declared that until the 1880s, John Loughborough Pearson’s buildings 'were usually built by local contractors, and although some often recur in one area it is evidence only of their ability to put in the lowest tender' [3], while eight years before, Paul Thompson had noted that despite William Butterfield’s preference 'to use a builder he knew whenever he could, ... the two hundred and fifty buildings for which the names of the builders can be found' were executed by some twenty different firms altogether and showed Butterfield 'more prepared to experiment' when working outside the metropolis [4]. 

 

 

Of course, all three of these architects exercised a national reach, and it was hardly reasonable to expect the firm that built Pearson's All Saints’, North Ferriby, in the East Riding, for £3,039 [5], to travel to Devon to erect the equally modest St. Matthew’s, Landscove [6].  Even George Myers, who would generally go anywhere, had declined to build Pugin's parsonage at Lanteglos-by-Camelford in Cornwall because 'it was too far to go for so small a work' [7], but what was the situation for provincial architectural firms, working largely within a single county?  Here Mallinson and Healey’s day-books are extremely revealing, for they show that during the four years 1854-7 alone, the partners had recourse to ninety-three different contractors, who, after allowing for six who were engaged in more than one trade, comprised nineteen stonemasons, fifteen joiners and carpenters, five slaters [8], fourteen plumbers and glaziers, nine plasterers, nine painters and decorators, eleven general builders, eight labourers, and nine of miscellaneous occupations including five who acted as clerks-of-the-works and two whose trades cannot be identified.  Sixty-six from among this number can be traced to their home or trade addresses [9], comprising fourteen masons, fourteen joiners and carpenters, four slaters, thirteen plumbers and glaziers, eight plasterers, eight painters and decorators, and eleven general builders, again with six men counted twice, and since it is also possible to deduce the places of work for each of these men on each of their respective contracts, their approximate home-to-work distances can be calculated (appendix 4), albeit that since there is no way of knowing the route the men would have taken on their journeys, these must necessarily be recorded either 'as the crow flies' or by using the common rule of thumb for calculating travelling distance from direct distance, by multiplying the latter by one and a third.  Estimates thus calculated and stated in miles, rounded up to the nearest half, are probably accurate to within about 20%, but it is necessary to recognise that in view of the local topography, both the distance itself, and/or the time needed to complete it, have the capacity to deceive.  This warning notwithstanding, however, the travelling distances that emerge are nevertheless instructive.  Seventy-four out of one hundred and twenty-five contracts (59.2%) required only a journey of three miles or less, which an average person can walk in about an hour, and a further thirty-three (26.4%) fell between three and a half miles and six, which a horse and cart might travel in an hour and a half.  That leaves eighteen (14.4%) involving longer journeys, including two cases (both at St. Paul's, Stockton-on-Tees) where the contractors obviously had to lodge away from home.

 

 

Diagram VIII:  pie charts showing contractors’ travelling distances to work, 1854-7.

 

 

 

 

It is worth considering whether there were any discernible differences in the travelling distances undertaken by those employed in the different trades, and here one might expect that those with the most valuable contracts (masons in the first instance, joiners and carpenters next) might have found it worthwhile to travel furthest.  Of course, any conclusions drawn from the above data must be accompanied by the reservation that sample numbers are small, but it is notable that such evidence as exists is entirely to the contrary.  Indeed, only three (and perhaps only two) of twenty-two masons' contracts (14%) involved a journey greater than three miles, including one case where the mason lodged away from home, whereas three out of six plasterers' contracts, three out of twenty-four plumbers' contracts, and four out of eight painters' contracts involved journeys of eight miles or more, for which the explanation may be that since masons generally took a considerable labour force with them and probably heavier tools [10], it was more important for them to work closer to home, while the fact that they were usually engaged on each project for longer, simultaneously reduced the need, felt more acutely by plasterers, plumbers and painters, to scout for work over a wider area.  Even so, in all departments the figures suggest the opportunities for an architect 'to rely on a small circle of trusted builders' were severely limited by the inability of contractors to submit tenders for 'bread and butter' projects without first giving careful consideration to the number of working and/or (in winter) daylight hours they could expect to lose in travel.  If these considerations exerted a controlling influence on the submissions contractors felt able to make, it is totally unsurprising they were reflected in Mallinson and Healey's need to rely on local men.

 

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

 

Builders' Contracts and Their Effects on Contractors.

 

Building contracts were harsh and one might expect that men working alone or new and untried craftsmen without the benefit of an established reputation, might be more at their mercy than those with a recognised presence.  A large building firm might also be better able to ride out any problems that arose from bad weather, sick and absent workmen, or some other unexpected mishap, but in any event, when any difficulty occurred likely to impede the progress of the works, a lot could depend on the reasonableness of the architect, whose judgement was often final and not open to appeal. A contract superintended by an architect noted for fair dealings might justify a sharper tender or - quite literally - going the extra mile.  William Bussel, a builder of Gloucester, complained in The Builder in 1856, 'The building trade in this city has been ruined by... treatment builders have met with from architects within these last ten years.  There are now 10 or 12 architects [in the city]... many of whom glory in catching a contractor with sureties' [11].

 

One of the largest and most firmly established general building firms in early Victorian Halifax and Bradford was Isaac Patchett's business at Queen's Head, which Mallinson and Healey used on at at least seven occasions and probably considerably more [12].  The contract to which Patchett put his signature on 27th November 1858, drawn up between himself and his partner, Michael Firth [13] on the one hand, and the building committee for Clayton schools and teacher's house on the other, runs to three large printed pages and sets out in detail how Isaac Patchett had committed himself to undertake the excavators' and masons' work at the school for an all-inclusive sum of £579, agreeing in the process: (i) not to employ subcontractors and to have as many men on site at all times as Mallinson and Healey considered needful, on pain of the architects calling in their own workmen to hurry the works along and deducting their wages from the overall price of the contract, even to the extent that if insufficient money was still due to the contractors they should be responsible for the difference anyway; and (ii) that if any workman was judged by the architects to have 'misbehaved' on site, he could be dismissed by the architects and would then have to be replaced by the contractor, failure to do so again being subject to the potential penalty of the architect bringing in his own man or men, chargeable against the contract.  Although obviously intended to indemnify building committees and architects against unreliable contractors, this must have had the unintended consequence of deterring some of the best and busiest men if they had concerns about the integrity of the architects overseeing the project.  In addition, there was besides the stipulation that all materials brought by the contractors to the site should, from that moment forward, be regarded as the property of the building committee even though the committee took no responsibility for any for loss or damage to them and offered no security against theft, and that if any of the materials discovered on site were judged to be unsound and not replaced by the contractor within three days of being notified of the fact, they could be removed by others on the instructions of the building committee and disposed of howsoever the building committee deemed fit.  Moreover, should any alterations or additions to the building be thought necessary as construction work progressed, the architects, acting on behalf of the building committee, could order the contractor to carry them out for such extra sums as the architects judged appropriate, and any damage to the works or materials arising from accident (whether the fault of the contractor or otherwise) should be made good by the contractor at no further charge, unless it could be proved to have been caused by the workmen of another department.  And finally, the contractors were not only to carry out everything described in the specification but also anything else that might be inferred from it but was not mentioned directly, thereby neatly passing the responsibility for all omissions from the architects to the contractor.  All disagreements arising from these provisions were to be referred to the architects, whose decisions were final.  In return, up to three-quarters of the contract money was to be payable in cash to the contractors in appropriate instalments as the work progressed, with the remaining quarter falling due on completion of the works, which in the case of Clayton schools was to be no later than 1st June 1859, any overrun being subject to a forfeit of £5 per week [14].  It would have been very surprising in the circumstances - indeed, almost reckless - if a consideration of Mallinson and Healey's rectitude had not been taken into account by prospective contractors before putting themselves forward!

 

 

In fact, there is circumstantial evidence that Mallinson and Healey were reasonably familiar with most of the men they engaged and formed good relationships with them, notwithstanding the number involved.  Thus John Lambert, timber merchant and carpenter at Lightcliffe parsonage [15], whom Mallinson and Healey had previously engaged on three other contracts [16], was declared bankrupt in March 1855 [17], and Mallinson found himself tasked with both valuing Lambert's premises and stocks of timber on behalf of his assignees, and simultaneously preparing Lambert's own private account for proof before the bankruptcy court, with whatever conflict of interest that might have involved [18].  It obviously did not involve any significant damage to architect/contractor relations, for besides returning in the autumn to undertake extra work at Bradshaw parsonage, Lambert was also working for the partners at Haley Hill mill early the following year [19].

 

 

Cash flow, for those who had to pay a significant workforce was a problem for most contractors to one degree or another, although larger firms may have found it easier to weather the vicissitudes of irregular receipts than small.  There are several references in the day-books to advances of £40 to John Lambert at Lightcliffe as he ran increasingly into financial trouble [20].  Another man who clearly struggled was Thomas Thornton of Elland, mason at Christ Church, Barkisland, whose contract eventually realised £796.15s.3d, and who appealed so frequently to William Baxter for one advance after another, that Baxter felt obliged to write to the treasurer, the Rev. James Sanders:

 

'My dear Sir,

 

'The bearer, Mr. Thomas Thornton's son, will present you with a certificate from Mr. Mallinson as to the amount due (£25) for masonry at Barkisland church.  Thornton's son came to me yesterday for a note to you for money, which I refused to give till Mr. Mallinson had stated what was due to him.  It appears that Mr. Mallinson has certified for £25 although he has not seen the work for several weeks.  This is not right and if we are not very careful, there will be little or no money due to Thornton and the work will then be given up for the winter or perhaps for a much longer period.  You will, of course, give him a cheque for the £25 but I must see you before any more money is paid him.' [21]

 

 

In fact, however, an architect's reputation for a sympathetic understanding of contractors' potential financial difficulties, might have encouraged some very good but impecunious workmen to come forward who might otherwise have been reluctant to do so.

 

 

 *     *     *     *     *     *    

 

 

Wage Rates and the Cost of Craft Items and Sundries.

 

Wages were not an issue that came often into Mallinson and Healey's purview: contractors made what they could from their tenders and if they had a labour force to pay, the wages they paid them were entirely their affair.  Almost the only instances of salaries appearing in final building accounts, excluding the architects' commission, were therefore those of the clerk-of-works, if one was engaged, and as seen above (chapter six), a typical salary here was £1.10s.0d a week, although sometimes a higher rate would be required if there was a sudden need to attract a suitable person.

 

 

As for furniture and fittings, these might be designed by Healey, but someone still had to make them and then be paid for doing so.  Unfortunately, the only items for which individual prices are mentioned in the day-books are the fonts at Cundall (fig. 6e) and Heptonstall (fig, 6f) at £12 and £25 respectively, and the label stops at Cundall, which were 6/- each, all of which were carved by Mawers of Leeds.  Mawers' account at Thornhill Lees came to £150 in total [22], and while the individual pieces they made are not listed, presumably the reredos, font, and pulpit were among them.  However, if this seems very moderate, the cost should be compared with that for the wooden pulpit, reading desk, altar rail and altar table at St. John the Evangelist's, Baildon, which amounted to £20.10s.0d altogether [23].  That costs could be so low is a reflection of the fact that skilled craftsmanship carried little or no premium at this time, as illustrated by a case brought before Leeds Crown Court in February 1856 concerning one, Matthew Taylor, described as an apprentice to Mrs. Mawer, who had 'refus[ed] to obey [her] lawful commands', but also as someone who was 'exceedingly clever at his business' and in whom Mrs. Mawer had sufficient confidence to send out, on his own, to work on behalf of the firm 'at different towns a distance from Leeds'.  For all this, his wages were 8/- a week plus 6d a night allowance for his lodgings whenever he was absent from home, but Taylor claimed that 'his food cost much more at these times' and that he needed an extra 2/- a week to avoid being seriously out of pocket.  Mrs. Mawer's counsel asked the court to order Taylor back to work on the existing terms, but the court dismissed the summons with the magistrates expressing the opinion that Taylor's claim was 'very reasonable' [24].

 

 

The most extensive record of the financial minutiae with which building committees were prepared to concern themselves can be found in the files for Barkisland.  Extra masonry work eventually added £80.15s.3d to the original contract price of £716, while the additional figure that had to be found for the carpenter was £10.6s.10d [25].  'Sundry payments for Ironmongery, Smith's Work, Advertising, Printing, Postages, &c., &c.' amounted to £32.6s.5d, for almost all of which the receipts were retained, showing the exact prices of the items, even down to a pound of nails.  At one level, this is not surprising for it had been the custom as far back as the seventeenth century to provide final accounts for church buildings to a level of accuracy that seems highly dubious today [26], but it shows that nothing was too insignificant to be beneath the committee's notice. Thus, for example, Thomas Shaw, Barkisland's clerk-of-the-works, in submitting his accounts, was careful to include a detailed breakdown of all the individual sums he had paid to the twelve men who had gone, each with his horse and cart, to the canal wharf at Elland to collect roofing slates that had been brought by barge from Manchester.  Between them, the men were paid £4.13s.3d, of which 3/3d was claimed by Shaw himself, who also made the journey.  Neither the building committee nor the architects could have asked for a greater degree of accountability.

 

 

Sometimes attempts to economize, however, were taken to impossible lengths.  Thus when application was made to Thomas Hodges, bell-founder of 99 Middle Abbey Street, Dublin (on the face of it, a curiously located company to approach), for two small, and presumably very cheap, bells for the church, Hodges wrote back to the Rev. James Sanders to explain that the smallest bells he could supply that would sound significantly different from one another, would be 17" and 19½" in diameter, and would cost £10.5d.0d and £13.9s.0d respectively [27].  In fact, the bells and their hanging eventually cost £28.13s.4d, and the 'Church and Vestry Furniture, Decalogue, &c' came to £33.10s.5d, which, if it included all the stalls and pews, seems remarkable, not least because of the amount of timber involved.  It cannot possibly have included the font, which is covered in carved diapering patterns and has the Symbols of the Evangelists in bas-relief in recessed quatrefoils on the cardinal sides.

 

 

These figures can be compared with those for Christ Church, Mount Pellon, for which a still more detailed breakdown of expenses exists.  Here, the stone pulpit cost £16, the font, £10.10s.0d, the Decalogue, £8, the 'Altar and Vestry Chairs', £4, and the remaining church furniture (presumably including the stalls and the pews), £41.6s.11d, divided unequally between two named furniture makers who seem to have worked independently of one another.  Excluding the pulpit as well as the font, the remaining furniture cost £53.6s.11d, some 60% as much again as the furniture at Barkisland, which is a surprising discrepancy when it is considered that while Christ Church, Barkisland, provided seats for 446 people (346 adults and 100 children) [28], its namesake at Mount Pellon, as originally built, accommodated just 273 (215 adults and 58 children) [29]. Unfortunately, since all the original furniture at Mount Pellon except the font, has been swept away, it is impossible to compare it with that at Barkisland for quality, but the building committee at Mount Pellon probably obtained the font at a discount, for it is identical to the previously mentioned font at Cundall.

 

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

 

The Economic Advantage of using Local Building Stone.

 

As stated above, the usual practice was for contractors to supply their own building materials and include the price in their tenders, but money could sometimes be saved if masons could be directed to a convenient source of stone nearby.  John Hollings's concern that the ICBS should not require the building committee at Girlington to obtain stone any further away than necessary was referred to in chapter seven.  Likewise, albeit viewed from the opposite standpoint, an offer from Joseph Stocks to provide, gratis, the stone for Holy Trinity, Queen's Head, from his quarry at Catherine Slack, one mile south of the proposed building site but down one hill and up another, was turned down when the estimates submitted by prospective masons, either supplying their own stone or using the stone from Catherine Slack, proved to be over £100 more in the latter case than the former [30].  This brings into startling relief the relative cost of road transport in the days before the internal combustion engine. Obviously a less challenging topography could ease the situation:  the stone for St. Mary's, Lower Dunsforth, came from the Lingerfield quarry near Knaresborough [31]. seven and a half miles to the southwest, across the floodplain of the River Ure and its tributary, the Tutt, but that appears to have been exceptional.  More typically, in all likelihood, the stone for St. Mary Magdalene's, East Keswick, was taken from Vicar's Whin Quarry, a mile and a half to the west [32], but the most helpful situation of all undoubtedly arose at Heptonstall, where the new church of St. Thomas the Apostle, erected only yards from the ruined mediæval building dedicated to St. Thomas à Beckett, was built from stone quarried within the same churchyard [33].

 

 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

 

Financial Competitiveness.

 

Finally, was it possible, purely by care and diligence, to gain a financial edge over one's confrères? Of course, cost is only one concern to a potential buyer when contemplating engaging in an expensive transaction, for value depends as much or more on what one wants for one's money as it does on the sum to be expended itself, yet when money is scarce, the importance of the latter increases at the expense of the former.

 

 

If the cost of Mallinson and Healey's church buildings is compared with those of their competitors, therefore, expressing the figures in the usual contemporary way of so much per sitting, and taking care only to compare like with like by restricting the comparison to churches built from 1845 onwards within the West Riding's historic boundaries and part-funded by the Church Commissioners, in order that all the figures can be taken from M.H. Port (who presumably used the same methodology throughout) [34], then this pits ten of Mallinson and Healey’s churches, listed in table 8b below, with an average cost per sitting of £3.12s.5d, against thirty churches by all other architects together, with an average cost of £4.2s.5d [35], giving Mallinson and Healey a nominal cost advantage of 10/- or approximately 12%.

 

Table 8b:  Costs of Mallinson & Healey’s Churches,

part-funded by the Church Commissioners.

 

 

Church.

Total Cost ex. Site

Total Seats

Cost per Sitting

St. Mary, Wyke (1844/5)

£3,050

704

£4.6s.8d

St. John the Baptist, Clayton (1847)

£1,903

802

£2.7s.5d

St. Michael, Mytholmroyd (1847)

£1,739

480

£3.12s.5d

St. Matthew, Bankfoot (1848)

£1,867

490

£3.16s.2d

St. Michael & All Angels, Shelf (1848)

£1,745

493

£3.10s.9d

All Saints, Richmond Hill (1849)

£3,166

756

£4.3s.9d

Christ Church, South Ossett (1850)

£2,120

603

£3.10s.4d

Christ Church, Barkisland (1851)

£1,350

446

£3.0s.6d

St. Andrew, Listerhills (1851)

£2,425

806

£3.0s.2d

Christ Church, Mount Pellon (1854)

£1,360

273

£4.19s.8d

AVERAGE (of 10)

 

 

£3.12s.5d

 

 

 *     *     *     *     *     *     *

 

 

Conclusion.

 

The early Victorian provincial architect had only limited means at his disposal whereby to control costs and the few levers held in his hands needed to be operated with every possible care.  The first priority was to engage contractors who were reliable and local (since local contractors were more likely to submit costings that were competitive without tending to result in shortcutting when they were found to be unrealistic), and a reputation for fair dealings on the part of the architect was likely to draw more tenders in.  The selections of the mason and joiner were particularly important since this was where the majority of the money would be spent.  Subject to its meeting the architect's specification, the choice of material was usually the responsibility of the relevant department, but an architect with local knowledge would be able to judge what was a reasonable price to pay for stone or timber and might on occasion be able to direct the contractor to a more proximate and cheaper source.  Items that needed to be made by a specialist craftsperson were usually best obtained from the same, regularly patronised source (for example, Mawer's of Leeds) since businesses generally take particular care over customers they expect to return.  None of these considerations individually was likely to be transformative but, taken together, they could provide a modest competitive edge.  On a fixed rate of commission of 5% of the total, projects undertaken without due regard for cost, might bring a greater return in the short term, but were liable to undermine the business over time by a process of client attrition.  Counter-intuitive as it may have appeared initially, a reputation for financial prudence was another element in building and sustaining the provincial architect's success.

 

 

NOTES:

  1. Christopher Powell, Genesis of a General Contractor - a Georgian Vernacular Builder Transforned (paper, on-line at file:///C:/Documents/Downloads/Vol%203%202547-2558%20Powell.pdf, 1992), but see also E.W. Cooney, 'The Victorian Master Builders' (The Economic History Review, New Series 8/2, 1955, pp. 167-176).

  2. Hall, George Frederick Bodley, p. 261.

  3. Quiney, John Loughborough Pearson,  p. 176.

  4. Thompson,  William Butterfield, p. 71.

  5. Pearson, 1845-46.  Built by Firby & Co. of Swanland or Malone of Hull or both. (Quiney, John Loughborough Pearson, p. 266.)

  6. Pearson, 1849-51.  Built by John Mason of Exeter.  (Quiney, John Loughborough Pearson,  p. 261.)

  7. Patricia Spencer-Silver, Pugin’s Builder - the Life and Work of George Myers (Kingston-upon-Hull: The University of Hull Press, 1993), pp. 38−39.

  8. The small number of slaters compared to those for the other building trades could be indicative of one of several things, including a greater reserve by the architects to engage men whose work was relatively unknown to them, or that slaters were in generally short supply, or that this was work frequently undertaken by general builders.  It seems unlikely, in view of the detail given in the day-books on most other matters, that slaters were simply considered too unimportant to mention.

  9. Sources include Ibbetson's General Directory of Bradford for 1845,  White's Directory of Kingston-upon-Hull for 1851, White's Directory of Leeds and Bradford for 1854,  White's Directory of Bradford  for 1861, and Malcolm Bull's Calderdale Companion.

  10. Satoh, Building in Britain, pp. 109-256.

  11. The Builder, 5/246, 23rd October 1847, p. 505.

  12. Six of the known occasions date from the period of the extant day-books and are known about on that account.  The only one that does not, for Clayton schools and teacher' house, dates from 1858.

  13. Bradford, WYA, WDP36/11/1/2.

  14. Not all contracts went into such detail, however.  Thus the contract with John Haigh, builder of Barkisland parsonage in 1858, consisted of a handwritten sheet of notepaper, written out and signed by Haigh in a beautifully neat hand, setting out what he had undertaken to do for the sum of  £920, and countersigned by Mallinson, acting as witness.   Wakefield, WYA, WDP21/252.

  15. D/B, 12th May 1854.

  16. At Zion Independent Chapel, Halifax (D/B, 8th February 1854), at Bradshaw parsonage (D/B, 2nd January 1855), and at  Trinity Road Baptist Chapel, Halifax (D/B, 29th October 1855, when Lambert was still working on a building that had been under construction for the past two years).

  17. The Halifax Courier, 10th March 1855, p. 1.

  18. D/B, 4th December 1855.

  19. On Haley Hill mill shed. (D/B, 18th February 1856.)

  20. D/B, 5th May and 17th June 1854.

  21. William Baxter to Rev, James Sanders, Barkisland, 13th November 1852.  Wakefield, WYA, WDP21/252.

  22. D/B, 5th November 1857.

  23. Canon Bruce Grainger, A History of Baildon Parish Church, 1988, p.  11.

  24. The Leeds Intelligencer, 19th February 1856, p. 3

  25. 'Condensed Financial Statement', undated, Wakefield, WYA, WDP21/252.

  26. Wren's London church of St. Mary-le-Bow, Cheapside, for example, erected 1670-80, was reputed to have cost £15,421.9s.0½d.  (Figure quoted by Gerald Cobb in London City Churches, London, Batsford,1977, p. 35.)

  27. Thomas Hodges to the Rev. James Sanders, Dublin, 2nd May 1853.  Wakefield, WYA, WDP21/252.

  28. LPA, ICBS 4409.

  29. LPA, ICBS 4507.

  30. The Halifax Guardian and Huddersfield & Bradford Advertiser, 30th August, 1845 (reproduced in notes in the church,  p. 13).

  31. Notes in the church.

  32. Notes in the church.

  33. Todmorden and District News, 28th October 1904, p. 6.

  34. Port, Six Hundred New Churches, pp. 243-5.

  35. The costs vary between £2.14s.10d per sitting for Benomi & Cory's 437 seat church of St. Mary, Oxenhope (1849), to £6.14s.9d per sitting for Jeremiah Dobson's 366 seat church of St. Mary, Gomersall (1851).  Benomi and Cory were not always cheap, however:  their 527 seat church of St. Matthew, Dewsbury (1848) cost £5.8s.7d per sitting.

CHAPTER 9.  ►