Born into a middle-class Nonconformist Salford family in 1826, Thomas Worthington was articled to the Manchester architect Henry Bowman at the age of 15. Worthington stayed with Bowman, a confirmed Goth, for the full seven years of his articles, later describing him as "not the pushy man of business". He then moved to the London office of William Tite, best known as the architect of the Royal Exchange, London. In Tite's office Worthington worked mainly on railway commissions throughout the country but was eventually advised by his employer, "You have many friends in the North: go down to Manchester and hang out a sign there". Acting on this advice, Worthington returned to Manchester where he was to become one of the best known mid-Victorian architects in the North of England.
In common with many architects of the period, Worthington travelled extensively to Europe studying Gothic architecture. These travels gave Worthington an appreciation not only of north European gothic styles but a love of the renaissance architecture of northern Italy. Designs inspired by these travels appear in such Manchester buildings as the Albert Memorial, the tower of the Nicholls Hospital School (1880) and the Sessions Court in Minshull Street (1873) while the facade of the Memorial Hall in Albert Square is based directly on the Ca d'Oro Palace in Venice. Yet he was to write of the Overseers, and Commissioners' Office, "...a simple bit of Italian design in brick and stone".
Worthington was to produce numerous designs for hospitals, public baths and low-cost housing for the working classes. Between 1862 and 1896 he was the architect for at least eight new hospitals, including the infirmary at the Chorlton Union Workhouse. Designed as a series of pavilions, the infirmary was closely based on recommendations by Florence Nightingale, who was to approve the plans. Through his involvement with the Manchester Statistical Society and the Manchester Sanitary Association, Worthington produced schemes for low-cost flats for the Salford Improved Industrial Dwellings Company. Intended as the first in a series of such developments, the flats brought shareholders only a 3% return on their capital rather than the anticipated 5% return, and thus no further schemes were undertaken.
Worthington's public baths with their advanced constructional techniques and complex mechanical services were to serve as prototypes for a new generation of buildings. The French government bought copies of the plans for Leaf Street baths in Hulme, intending to provide similar facilities in Paris and he was consulted from places as far afield as Gothenburg and Gibraltar. Worthington's motives for involvement in such schemes appear to be based solely on a concern for the less fortunate. However, these commissions show the increasing specialisation that began to occur in the late nineteenth century architectural profession.
54 John Dalton Street
13 Union Terrace Cheetham
Obituary Building News 12 November 1909 Page 716
Obituary British Architect 19 November 1909 Page 363
Obituary Builder 13 November 1909 Page 533
Obituary Builder 20 November 1909 Page 563-564
Obituary Manchester Guardian 10 November 1909 page 14
Reference:Manchester Guardian 12 November 1909 page 5 – funeral