Stephen Wilkinson

County Architect
Place of Birth
Calcutta, Preston

  • Born             23 April 1876
  • Christening    9 September 1876 at St Mary’s Church, Stockport, Cheshire
  • Married         2 November 1906, Frances Eveline Neave
  • Died             1 January 1962 at Lytham              

Stephen Wilkinson was the second Lancashire County Architect 1927-1941, in succession to Henry Littler who had retired after 30 years’ service.

Born on 23 April 1876 the son of George Wilkinson, manufacturer, Stockport and Sarah Ann, and the brother of Arthur Grosvenor Wilkinson (qv) Stephen Wilkinson was educated at Lincoln and St George’s, Harpenden, Herts.  In 1894 he was articled to his brother, Arthur Grosvenor Wilkinson, of Stockport and remained with him until 1897. Between 1897 and 1909 he was employed variously as assistant to Edward Chrisfield; James Diggle Mould (qv) of Manchester; Andrews and Butterworth(qv) of Manchester; and Heenan and Froude. He also served in the Architects Departments of Manchester Corporation, Blackpool Corporation, and Northampton Corporation before accepting a post as assistant H M Indian Office of Works, later acting as Architectural Assistant to Chief Engineer Eastern Bengal State Railway.

In 1909 he commenced independent practice in Calcutta and remained in India until 1914. During this time he gained first premium in the competition for designs for Calcutta Town Hall, and the Government of India bought his designs for the officials’ houses at Imperial Delhi. He also designed  the Hindustan Insurance Building and the Hotel Mount Everest in Darjeeling.

Stephen Wilkinson enlisted in the Royal Flying Corps during World War One and was trained as an Equipment Officer. Finding that he lacked the necessary motivation, he was reassigned as a Kite Balloon officer, and following training in the U.K. was on the point of being deployed overseas as an observer with a Kite Balloon Section. At the last minute he replaced a free ballooning instructor in the U.K. and remained in the U.K. for the duration of the war, serving as a free balloon pilot and instructor. He was awarded the Air Force Cross in June 1919, for his wartime service during 1914-1918.

In 1921 he was appointed architect to North Eastern Railway later acting as consulting architect to the combined London and North Eastern Railway system. His principal works included the LNER Wagon Works, Darlington and Gosforth; Central Station Hotel, Newcastle and the Refreshment Room Bridlington Station.

In 1927 he accepted the post of Lancashire County Architect

LANCASHIRE COUNTY ARCHITECT - Mr Stephen Wilkinson of Northumberland Avenue London, consulting architect to the London and North Eastern Railway Company has been appointed Lancashire County Architect in succession to Mr Henry Littler who retired in December after holding the position for 31 years. The applications for the post numbered 102. The salary is £1500 per annum. Mr Wilkinson, who is in his fiftieth year, served his articles in Manchester. [Manchester Guardian Saturday 5 February 1926 Page 16 Column 2]

When he retired as Lancashire County Architect in 1941 it was estimated that he had been responsible for building works amounting to over £4.500,000, including 18 secondary schools and 50 elementary schools, as well as the Edge Hill Training College and the Stretford Technical College. He has been responsible for many police buildings and hospitals and the County Hall extensions.

Stephen Wilkinson was elected LRIBA in 1910 and FRIBA in 1920. He was a Past Member of Council RIBA and Past President York and East Yorkshire Architectural Society. He exhibited at the Paris International Exposition, 1925 and was the first county architect to have his designs hung in the Royal Academy (1930–31, 1932–33, 1936–37, 1938–39).

On 2 November 1906 Stephen Wilkinson married Frances Eveline Neave, daughter of Reverend William Alexander Neave and Frances Mary Saunders, by whom he had two daughters. She died on 3 October 1952.

Stephen Wilkinson died on 1 January 1962 at his residence, White Cottage, Central Beach, Lytham, in his 86th year. The funeral service and interment were held at Lytham Parish Church on Friday 5 January at 11.30am.

1910        Standard Buildings, Dalhousie Square Calcutta India
1926        Stephen Wilkinson  Northumberland Avenue London
1927-1941    County Hall, Preston

1910        11 Camden Crescent Bath   
1962        White Cottage, Central Beach Lytham

Reference    Manchester Guardian Saturday 5 February 1926 Page 16 Column 2
Reference    Builder 11 February 1927 Page 232 - abridged version
Reference    Times Saturday 5 February 1927 Page 7 Column G
Reference    Manchester Guardian 4 February 1941 page 8 - retirement

Death Notice  Manchester Guardian 3 January 1962 page 2
Obituary        Builder 5 January 1962 page 28
Obituary        Manchester Guardian 2 January 1962 page
Obituary        The Times (London, England), Thursday, 4 January, 1962; page 10
Obituary        RIBA Journal March 1962