Sir George Oatley Architectural Papers

  • This material is held at
  • Reference
      GB 3 DM 1812
  • Dates of Creation
  • Name of Creator
  • Language of Material
  • Physical Description
      28 plan chest drawers; 4 archive boxes; 5 shelves volumes; 21 buckets rolled plans; 2 piles oversized plans. Large architectural plans, some of which are in poor physical condition

Scope and Content

The plans have been catalogued in the order in which they have been taken out of plan chests. Rolled subsiduary plans have been categorised by type of project completed such as ecclesiastical, schools, Bristol general plans, miscellaneous plans and the like. There are also 4 archive boxes of photographic material, mainly relating to projects completed in the 1960s. There is a fine run of letterbooks from the practice dating from 1868-1922. We also hold the office name plate.

Administrative / Biographical History

Sir George Herbert Oatley was born in Bristol in 1863, and became apprenticed to the architect Thomas Dashwood. At 16 he started work as a junior draughtsman for the Architects Godwin and Crisp in Bristol. When Godwin left for London, Oatley became Henry Crisp's partner at the young age of 26, and at the same time married Edith Lawrence. Oatley's first architectural style was classical, and with his appointment as Architect to the University of Bristol he became a champion of the Gothic tradition. Crisp died in 1896, and Oatley worked on his own until his brother-in-law George C. Lawrence joined him in 1926. By that time Oatley's main work was completed. They were joined by Ralph H. Brentnall in 1947; and continued to practice from 12 Great George Street, Bristol, until Oatley's death in 1950. The practice continued as Oatley and Brentnall after Oatley's death. We hold architectural plans relating to all periods of Oatley's work, and also work carried out by architects before and after his involvement. Oatley concentrated on working in the Bristol area, but there are building schemes for the wider South West of England, and a certain amount of work throughout Britain, especially working on lunatic asylum design at the turn of the twentieth century. He carried out a large amount of work for the University of Bristol including the Wills Memorial Building (started 1912, opened 1925) and the H.H. Wills Physics Department (started 1926, opened 1930). He also designed the Bristol Baptist College in Woodland Road, Bristol, (1913-1915), which is now part of the University of Bristol. Halls of Residence for Bristol included Wills Hall (1925) and Manor Hall (1932). Oatley was also involved in hospital design both in Bristol and working further afield. In 1908 he helped design the Bristol Homoeopathic Hospital, and also worked on the Bristol Royal Infirmary, and on Bristol General Hospital. Lunatic asylums designed by Oatley and Lawrence include Winwick Asylum in Lancashire, Cardiff Asylum at Whitchurch, and Bristol Asylum at Stapleton. Oatley was a devoutly religious man and did much work for local churches, both in their design, and in financial support for congregations, including work on St. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol. There is also a large amount of work for local firms such as the Fry family chocolate factories in Bristol, and the Bristol Wagon Works. Later work concentrates on smaller projects such as conversion of rooms within houses.


The papers are arranged according to the order in which they have been taken out of plan chests. More modern rolled plans are arranged according to the following categories: Asylums, University of Bristol, Bristol General Plans, Ecclesiastical Plans, Hospitals, Miscellaneous General Plans, Pilkington Factory Bristol, Redland High School for Girls Bristol and other Bristol Schools. Letterbooks are arranged in chronological order, and photographic material is stored together. It has not been possible to identify all buildings covered, and it is hoped that in the future that the lists and arrangement may be improved.

Access Information

Accessible to all bona fide readers.

Acquisition Information

These were purchased by the University of Bristol Information Services from Joe Palmer in December 1997.

Other Finding Aids

Word processed list available in Special Collections. It is also possible to ask for the wordprocessed list to be interrogated on line.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission must be obtained from University of Bristol Information Services Special Collections

Custodial History

These papers came into the ownership of Palmer and Proctor, Architects, of Clevedon, North Somerset. The practice had formerly been part of Oatley and Brentnall.

Additional Information

Special Collections also holds a large number of plans by Sir George Oatley and work partners relating to the design of University of Bristol Buildings. These are already held by the University in Special Collections.

Geographical Names