Grace's Guide To British Industrial History

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Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 149,723 pages of information and 235,473 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Grace's Guide is the leading source of historical information on industry and manufacturing in Britain. This web publication contains 147,919 pages of information and 233,587 images on early companies, their products and the people who designed and built them.

Frank Baines

From Graces Guide

Sir Frank Baines (1877–1933), architect and architectural preservationist

1877 Born in Stepney, son of Samuel Baines, coppersmith, and his wife, Elizabeth

1892 On leaving school, like his brother Hubert before him, Frank was apprenticed to C. R. Ashbee, at that time in practice at Essex House, Mile End Road.

1895 (Having misrepresented his age) Baines was appointed to the Office of Works as a junior draughtsman.

1911 Promoted assistant architect, second class.

He rose rapidly in the Office of Works.

Baines was employed mostly on work relating to historic monuments, in which he gained a reputation for stabilizing and preservation — not restoration.

1911 He was appointed M.V.O. for his work at Caernarvon Castle in connection with the investiture of the Prince of Wales.

From 1912 his projects included those at Buckingham Palace, Hampton Court Palace, and Eltham Palace, and at the medieval religious abbeys of Tintern, Byland, Rievaulx, Jedburgh, Melrose, and Dryburgh.

1913 Baines examined the timbers of the hammer-beam roof of Westminster Hall at the Palace of Westminster; he found the wood decayed by beetle larvae and the structure significantly weakened.

1914 He issued a report on the decayed condition of the Westminster Hall roof. Drawing on his experience at Eltham Palace, Baines proposed insertion of steel reinforcements within the timbers which, invisible from the ground, would allow as much of the medieval material as possible to remain in place.

1914 Married Rhoda Eleanor Oldham in Southwark

WWI Attached to the Ministry of Munitions including construction of prefabricated factories and houses for munitions workers. Baines's preference for low density plotting and for the domesticated arts and crafts style meant that, despite their rapid execution, both estates had the appearance of established villages in south Suffolk or north Essex.

1916 Appointed CBE

1917 Baines had control of rebuilding after the chemical works explosion at Silvertown, East London.

1918 Made knight bachelor for his war work.

1920 Appointed as director of works and chief architect.

1920s Work to insert 350 tons of steel into the roof of Westminster Hall began and was concluded by late 1922. The saving of the roof brought immediate and international recognition.

1923 Appointed CVO

1925 Elected a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects

Baines's last and greatest architectural project was for two blocks of offices on opposite sides of Horseferry Road, Millbank - one was Nobel House built for Imperial Chemical Industries (ICI) while Thames House was built for government use.

1927 Baines's involvement with Nobel House prompted questions in Parliament concerning the acceptability for a senior civil servant to work simultaneously for a private company, and led to his retirement from the Office of Works in September 1927. On his retirement he was awarded a second knighthood (KCVO).

1933 Died at his home on Trenoweth, St Keverne, Cornwall.


* 1933 Obituary[1]

ALTHOUOH Sir Frank Baines, whose death, at the age of fifty-six year·s, occurred on Christmas Eve, was an architect by profession, so much of his work was of a truly engineering character that it is fitting that his death should be recorded in these pages. He was a man of outstanding personality and great strength of purpose. For some years during his tenure of the office of Director of Works to the Office of Works he was responsible for the maintenance and restoration of many famous ancient buildings, of which Westminster Hall and the Banquetting Hall at Hampton Court are perhaps the most celebrated. In both cases the ancient woodwork had been riddled by the death-watch beetle until it was in a precarious condition. In Westminster Hall he effected restoration by introducing skilfully concealed steel work amongst the ancient timbers of the hammer beam roof, his effort being to preserve as much of the old wood as possible. His procedure has been, and still is, severely criticised by architects, some of whom believe that the beetle has not been got rid of by the poison used for that purpose, whilst others fear that stresses on the ancient walls have been set up by the new steelwork. In 1927 he retired from the Office of Works to take up private practice, and he was the architect to the two buildings at Millbank which have entirely altered its appearance - the house of Imperial Chemical Industries, Ltd., and Thames House. Sir Frank was an effective speaker and lecturer, and in November, 1922, delivered a lecture to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers on the subject of Westminster Hall. He was a firm believer in the restoration of ancient buildings to their old appearance, as far as possible, and a stout opponent of what he called, derisively, the "ivy tod" ruins. He was one of those men who give one the feeling that they would succeed in whatever they undertook.



See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. The Engineer 1933/12/29
  • Biography of Sir Frank Baines, ODNB