John Knowles

Place of Birth
Wrington Somersetshire

… about whom little else is known.   John J Parkinson Bailey p 89



John Knowles was in partnership with Charles Clegg for almost forty years from 1851 until his death in 1879. Probably the greatest of all Manchester’s unknown architects, his biographical details were reduced to six words in Manchester: An Architectural History published in 2000. It is impossible to do more than speculate on the role of John Knowles in the partnership. While Charles Clegg eventually obtained the acclaim, it is highly probable that it was John Knowles who possessed the flair and imagination to produce a succession of different designs and elevational treatments.  However, it was only after his death that a substantial copy of an earlier design was built.

John Knowles was born in the village of Wrington, near Weston-super-Mare in Somerset but nothing has yet been discovered of his early education and training.  


By 1851 he was in partnership with Charles Clegg. While The Builder reported that Clegg & Knowles were awarded third prize for a competition entry for Salford Workhouse in that year,

In December 1856 John Knowles married Elizabeth Brown Gill of Liverpool at Manchester Cathedral. His new bride, the widow of James Gill, already had a family. Upon his marriage John Knowles thus acquired two step-daughters and a step-son. The family took up residence in Cheetham Hill, and the marriage produced at least two further children Emily Ann, born 1857 and Frederick, born in 1858. Emily Ann died in early childhood while her mother died sometime in the mid-1860s. John Knowles later re-married. Again, there were at least two children of this second marriage.



Name Designation Formed Dissolved Location
Clegg and Knowles Architectural practice 1851 1884 Manchester