Georgian Society for East Yorkshire

Francis Johnson Architects

Project Archivist Claire Weatherall with part of the Francis Johnson Collection

Project Archivist Claire Weatherall with part of the Francis Johnson Collection

Monday, 13th January 2014

Hull University Archives has recently been awarded £32,729 to undertake a project to catalogue and promote the papers of Francis Johnson and Partners, Architects. Still in practice today, the practice of Francis Johnson and Partners, Architects was begun in Bridlington in 1937 by Francis Johnson (1911-1995). He was a Hull born architect who studied at the Leeds school of Architecture where he developed his style along traditional and classical lines. The project is being undertaken at the Hull History Centre where the papers are stored. Work began early in January this year and will be completed in August 2015. Material in the Francis Johnson archive relates to more than 2,000 projects undertaken by the practice between 1954 and 1996. The practice has a very strong country house portfolio and has undertaken work on the Orangery at Sledmere House, Maister House and the Dower House at Burton Agnes Hall. Commissions were undertaken on behalf of York Civic Trust at Merchant Taylor’s Hall. The practice was also given commissions to design furniture and fittings including an alter cross at Holy Trinity Church, Hull, a pair of candlesticks for HM the Queen, and furniture for the British Embassies in Washington, Tokyo and Oslo. Files include sketches, drawings and correspondence relating to planning approvals, design, and listed buildings consent.

In its current state the archive is stored in its original paper wrappings and there is no finding aid to help indicate to researchers what information is contained within individual files. The archivist working on the project will be repackaging the files for long term preservation and creating a comprehensive catalogue of individual files to enable researchers to use the collection. The completed catalogue will be available online in August 2015.

It is also hoped that volunteers will be recruited to collate additional research and location data relating to the buildings and commissions represented in the archive. This work will be incorporated into the catalogue of the archive to provide more detailed context to the files. Without the help provided by volunteers this aspect of the project will not be possible. The volunteering element of the project is planned to start in May 2014 and is scheduled to run until March 2015. If anyone is interested in volunteering on this project please contact the Project Archivist Claire Weatherall at for further information.

The collection provides us with a unique record of private and ecclesiastical architectural work undertaken in the East and North Ridings of Yorkshire and will be a valuable resource for researchers interested in the area. A representative for Francis Johnson & Partners said of the archive ‘Programmes like Grand Designs, Restoration Homes and Restoration Man have brought architecture and design into the living room. We hope that this material will inspire children, students and the public with an interest in buildings of all shapes and sizes’. The project staff are keen to engage anyone who might use the archives about this and other resources held at the History Centre which can be used to undertake research into buildings in the local area.

You can follow the project’s progress online via the Hull History Centre Website at http://hullhistorycentre.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Francis%20Johnson

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