Archive of the University of Liverpool: Papers of William Graham, Baron Holford of Kemp Town

Archive Collection

Scope and Content

Comprises:

  • Records of Lord Holfords international visits: Australia (D147/AU) from the 1950s on and relating to his role as consultant from 1958 to 1970 to the National Capital Development Commission, Canberra; South Africa (D147/SA) regarding his development plan for the City of Durban in conjunction with R.H. Kantorowich, as planning consultant to the City of Pretoria, consultant for the Cape Foreshore Project and an assessor in a competition for Johannesburg Civic Centre.
  • Consultancy papers (D147/C): reflecting the diversity of Lord Holford's work in the UK as an individual or through his firms; covering his involvement in plans for the reconstruction of post-war London (with C H Holden), Piccadilly Circus, the Precincts of St Pauls, Cambridge and Corby (with H M Wright), the Army Museum Chelsea, United Liverpool Hospitals and Eton College; he acted as consultant to the expanding Universities in the late fifties and early sixties, Oxford and the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth.
  • Central Electricity Generating Board (d147/EB) of which Lord Holford was a part-time member from 1958 to 1973.
  • Financial Papers (D147/F): matters relating to the running of Lord Holford's firm of William Holford and Partners, based in London, Liverpool and Edinburgh.. Historic Buildings Council Papers from 1953-1975. These records are not complete, though contains routine correspondence of Lord Holford with his accountant, H.W. Pople of Liverpool.
  • Lectures and Articles (D147/LA): texts of lectures given by Lord Holford plus lecture notes, texts of articles, invitations to lecture which were refused, also includes notes for lectures at University College London. He meticulously preserved the texts of all the lectures and articles. Other papers from University College are to be found in their own section (D147/UCL), but these are very piecemeal concentrating only on departmental matters around the middle sixties and do scant justice to Lord Holford's tenure of the Chair of Town Planning.
  • The Membership of Societies (M): correspondence and papers of particular groups and societies, such as various Brighton and Hove Societies, the Civic Trust, the Georgian Group and the London Gardens Society, includes also professional clubs such as the Surveyors Club and the Bond.
  • Personal material (D147/P): contains Lord Holford's diaries, notes, private correspondence, personal documents, biographical notes and list of publications, press cuttings and details of his properties in Liverpool (80 Bedford Street), London (5 Cambridge Terrace and 20 Eccleston Square) and Brighton (133 Maring Parade).
  • Records of the Royal Institute of British Architects (D147/RBA): during the years of Lord Holford's presidency his activities and the influence he was able to bring to the questions of architectural politics of the time.
  • Staff and References (D147/SR): wide variety of references by Holford, also includes applications for positions within his own firm.
  • Trustee (D147/T): contains complete sets of agendas, minutes and papers for the periods during which Lord Holford was associated with particular committees.
  • Other Activities section (D147/OA): includes records relating to Holford as an assessor in various competitions and projects, includes Calder Bridge, Yorkshire and New Ways, London, The Commonwealth Arts Festival of 1965, The Countryside in 1970, as well as his work for the Artists General Benevolent Institution and for the Architectural Association.
  • A further deposit of material used by Mr. Richard Gray, a partner of Lord Holford in writing a biography (D147/8): includes various personal papers, a Biography, projects and writings by Holford, photographs, negatives and slides, correspondence and Marjorie Brooks' personal papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

William Graham Holford, Baron Holford of Kemp Town (1907-1975), architect and town planner, was born in Berea, Johannesburg, Transvaal Colony, on 22 March 1907. He was educated at Parktown School, Johannesburg and at the Diocesan College, Rondebosch, Capetown (1920-1923) before becoming as assistant at the firm of architects, Cowin, Powers, and Ellis in Johannesburg. In 1925 Holford travelled to England to study at the University of Liverpool, in the School of Architecture, under Professor C.H. Reilly. He graduated with first class honours in 1930. After graduating Holford travelled and studied in Italy for three years, during which time he held a years Scholarship in Architecture from the British School in Rome. In 1933 he became Senior Lecturer and Senior Demonstrator in the School of Architecture at the University of Liverpool, in the same year marrying Marjorie Brooks (1904-1980), a Rome Scholar in mural painting.

In 1936 he was appointed to the Lever Chair of Civic Design, a post which he held to 1947. He also undertook work for the Ministry of Supply as Chief Architect for Ordnance Factories and Hostels (1939-1942) and for the Ministry of Town and Country Planning as Chief Technical Officer (1943-1946). In 1948, he became Professor of Town Planning at University College London until his retirement from this position in 1970. In the late 1950s and early 1960s he acted as consultant to the expanding universities giving his services at St.Andrews, Exeter, Kent, Nottingham, Oxford and the University College of Wales at Aberystwyth. During his career Holford sat on many committees, including the Royal Fine Art Commission, the National Joint Council of Architects, Quantity Surveyors and Builders, the Royal Academy of Arts, the Royal Society of Arts and the Automobile Association. He was a trustee of Sir John Soane's Museum, the British Museum and the Institute of Landscape Architects; President of the Bluecoat Society of Arts, Liverpool and of the Housing Centre; a Governor of Bedford College, Wye College; and the Centre for Environmental Studies; Vice-Chairman of the Centre for Urban Studies; Prime Warden of the Goldsmiths Company and Vice-President of the Modular Society.

Holfords work was not confined to the British Isles. He also visited and worked widely in Australia and South Africa. He also worked in Brazil (where he was an assessor in the competition for the new capital, Brasilia), Canada (where he was an assessor in a competition for Toronto City Hall and Square), America (where he spent the 1951-1952 academic year at Harvard), Hong Kong, Lebanon, Singapore, Israel, Iran and Yugoslavia. He also made a visit to pre-war Germany to study recreation and physical training centres and to Greece in the 1930s to study Classical recreation and physical training centres Architecture.

Holford was the recipient of many honours during his career including a knighthood in 1953 a life peerage in 1965 and the Royal Gold Medal for Architecture in 1963. He was President of the Royal Institute of British Architects from 1960 to 1962 and in addition received honorary degrees from Durham, Liverpool, Oxford, and Exeter universities.

Arrangement

The archive has been arranged as follows:

Papers of William Graham, Baron Holford of Kemp Town:

  • D147/AU  - Australia
  • D147/C  - Consultancies (British work);
  • D147/EB  - Central Electricity Generating Board;
  • D147/F  - Financial Matters;
  • D147/HBC  - Historical Buildings Council;
  • D147/LA  - Lectures and Articles;
  • D147/M  - Membership of Societies;
  • D147/OA  - Other Activities;
  • D147/P  - Personal Material;
  • D147/RBA  - Royal Institute of British Architects;
  • D147/SA  - South Africa;
  • D147/SR  - Staff and References;
  • D147/T  - Trustee;
  • D147/UCL  - University College London;
  • D147/V  - Visits Abroad.
  • D147/7  - Holford: Additional Deposit (formerly D147/726, 727, 728)
  • D147/8  - Holford: Supplementary Material (formerly D147/1-6)

Conditions Governing Access

There are access restrictions to certain classes, in particular, the Historic Buildings Committee papers are subject to the provision of the Public Record Acts

Acquisition Information

Lady Marjorie Holford per Mr E A Manisty of Stephenson, Harwood and Tatham [Solicitors], Saddlers Hall, London, an executor of Lord Holford (1976) and Richard Gray (decd) per Em Prof Myles Wright 25 Jun 1976  (D147/7) 7 May 1982 , 13 May 1982  and 25 Feb 1986  (D147/P31/2)

Custodial History

The papers became the property of the University by a Deed of Assignment in 1981.

Related Material

D287 - Papers relating to the lives and careers of the holders of the Lever Chair of Civic Design; see Faculty of Social and Environmental Studies (SES)