Gwilt, George (1746-1807) (DNB00)

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GWILT, GEORGE, the elder (1746–1807), architect, was made surveyor to the county of Surrey about 1770. In 1774, on the passing of the Metropolitan Building Act, he became district surveyor for St. George's, Southwark, and about 1777 surveyor to the commissioners of sewers for Surrey, his district extending from East Moulsey to the river Ravensbourne in Kent. In this latter post, which he held for thirty years, he was succeeded by his eldest son; George [q. v.] As a young man Gwilt benefited by the patronage of Henry Thrale the brewer, and probably directed some of the improvements made by him at his brewery in Southwark (now Messrs. Barclay, Perkins, & Co.) At his house Gwilt became acquainted with Dr. Johnson, but there was no great cordiality between them. In 1782, when the private bridges at Cobham, Godalming, and Leatherhead were, by act of parliament, handed over to the county and made public, he, as county surveyor, directed the necessary alterations. Cobham bridge (formerly of wood) was entirely rebuilt of brick, with nine semicircular arches, the foundation-stone being laid on 15 July 1782. Godalming bridge (five arches) was also rebuilt, the foundation-stone laid on 22 July 1782, and the bridge opened to the public on 31 Jan. 1783. Leatherhead bridge, being already of stone and flint, was widened. Gwilt superintended the construction of the County Bridewell in St. George's Fields, at the back of the New King's Bench (afterwards Great Suffolk Street), in 1772; of Horsemonger Lane Gaol between 1791 and 1798 (pulled down in September 1878), and of the Sessions House in Newington Causeway, completed in 1799 (pulled down in 1862). In 1800, as architect to the West India Dock Company, he designed six of the large warehouses in the Isle of Dogs. In this work he was assisted by his son George. His two sons, George and Joseph, both separately noticed, were his pupils. He died in Southwark, 9 Dec. 1807, aged 61.

[Redgrave's Dict. of Artists; Dict. of Architecture; Manning and Bray's Surrey, iii. 589, Appendix, pp. xii, xiv, xxxvi; Brayley's Surrey, ii. 403, iii. 405, 406, v. 202; Memoir of Joseph Gwilt by Sebastian Gwilt, read at the Institute of British Architects, 15 Feb. 1864; Neild's State of the Prisons, pp. 547, 548, 551; Gent. Mag. 1807, p. 1181.]

B. P.