Dictionary of National Biography, 1901 supplement/Gibson, John (1817-1892)

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GIBSON, JOHN (1817–1892), architect, second son of Richard Gibson, a well-to-do farmer and horse-breeder, was born at Castle Bromwich, near Birmingham, in May 1817. After a short training in joinery, under a Birmingham builder, he entered the office of Joseph Aloysius Hansom [q. v.], the architect of the Birmingham town hall, whence, in 1835, his articles being interrupted by the bankruptcy of his master, he passed for the remaining three years of his pupilage into the charge of (Sir) Charles Barry [q. v.] With Barry he worked, first at Foley Place, London, and subsequently at Westminster, whither the office and staff were transferred during the designing of the Houses of Parliament, in the drawings for which Gibson had a share. He remained with Barry for six years after completion of pupilage, and his opening of independent practice was coincident with the competition of designs for the National Bank of Scotland in Glasgow (1844). In this Gibson, who submitted a correct Italian design, was successful among many rivals, and his original conception was carried out in all essential features. Other works rapidly ensued, of which the earliest and not the least important was the Romanesque Bloomsbury Chapel (1847); it was followed in 1848 by the offices of the Imperial Insurance Company in Old Broad Street, and in 1849 by the church in Charlecote Park, Warwickshire, erected for Mrs. Lucy, whose family entrusted him with the restoration of Charlecote House, and secured for him, by introduction to Lady Willoughby de Broke in 1860, his most important ecclesiastical work, the designing of Bodelwyddan Church, near St. Asaph.

After designing Shenston Church, near Lichfield, and Brunswick Buildings, New Street, Birmingham, Gibson built in 1853 a house and studio for F. R. Pickersgill, R.A., at Highgate, and Combroke Schools, and in 1855 Myton Grange, both in Warwickshire. The latter was an Elizabethan residence a favourite class of work with Gibson, who devoted himself chiefly to country houses and banks. Alterations at Plas Power, near Wrexham, and Wroxton Abbey, near Banbury, were entrusted to Gibson in 1858, and in 1861 the building of Woodcote, near Warwick. In 1864 he began his long and successful connection with the National Provincial Bank of England, for which in this year he built, in a dignified classic style, the head offices in Threadneedle Street, and subsequently branch offices at Tamworth, Salisbury, Southampton, Birmingham, Newcastle, Gateshead, Middlesborough, Stockton-on-Tees, Durham, Sunderland, and elsewhere. The chief London branches designed by him were those in Baker Street and Piccadilly, the latter being not the premises now occupied by the bank, but No. 212, further east. Between 1865 and 1870 he undertook various works for the Fielden family, or under their nomination, such as Dobroyd Castle, the Unitarian chapel in Todmorden, and the town hall in the same town. In 1866 he designed the Molyneux mausoleum in Kensal Green cemetery; in 1868, the chancel of St. Nicholas, Warwick; in 1871, Nutfield Priory, Red Hill, and additions to Guy's Cliff, Warwick; in 1873, Bersham Church and Imberhome, a house near East Grinstead; in 1874, Bix Church, near Henley; and in 1875 the City Bank, Exeter. In 1876 Gibson was engaged to build the offices of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge, in Northumberland Avenue, to which a top story was subsequently added by Alfred Waterhouse, R.A. Among the last works he undertook were Child's Bank, Temple Bar; the church and vicarage at Old Milverton, near Leamington, both in 1878; and in 1883 the bank at Lincoln. After this period Gibson appears to have retired from practice, but in 1890 he received, in recognition of his works as an architect, the gold medal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, a body to which he had been elected as associate in 1849 and fellow in 1853. He served at various periods on its council, and became a vice-president. Gibson died of pneumonia on 23 Dec. 1892, at his residence, 13 Great Queen Street, Westminster, and was buried in Kensal Green cemetery on the 28th.

[Notice by W. H. Brakspear in R. I. B. A. Journal, January 1893, ix. 118; Times, 24, 27, and 28 Dec. 1892.]

P. W.