William Albert Johnson

Place of Birth
Levenshulme, Manchester

  • Born                       1885
  • Married                   1914 Jean (Jeanie) Meikle at Stockport
  • Died                       25 June 1952 at 8 Southern Crescent, Bramhall
  • Funeral                   Stockport Crematorium

William Albert Johnson was born in 1885 in Levenshulme, one of three children of William and Mary Jane Johnson. His father was the manager of a local Co-op grocery shop. He studied at the Manchester Schools of Technology and Art under Professors Hugh Stannus and A C Dickie. He was articled to the Chief Architect of the CWS, Francis E L Harris, and after qualifying set up his own practice, sharing offices with Paul Ogden. The struggle of maintaining a practice proved too difficult financially and he decided to go back and work with Harris at the CWS. On Harris’s death in 1924, he succeeded him as Chief Architect. In total W A Johnson worked for the Cooperative Wholesale Society from 1899 until his retirement in 1950.

He was elected a fellow of RIBA in 1931 and was proposed by L G Ekins, J T Halliday and Isaac Taylor. He was President of the Manchester Society of Architects from 1937 to 1939. He retired from the CWS on his 65th birthday and was succeeded by George Stanley Hay, who had been based at the CWS London office since 1918. During his time as Chief Architect at the CWS, his assistants were John William Cropper (1890-1974) and Cyril Lawrence Paice (1894-1975). He also worked closely with the Chief Architect at the CWS in London, Leonard Gray Ekins (1877-1948). Ekins was generally responsible for the CWS premises in the South of England, and Johnson for premises in the North.  These premises covered small branch shops, factories, warehouses, banks, offices and department stores.

For department stores in particular, he was heavily influenced by the German architect Erich Mendelsohn after 1930, evident in his embrace of the International Modernist style. Johnson travelled widely in Germany and Holland, and Mendelsohn's Sckoken store in Stuttgart (1928) is quoted as being a particular inspiration for the Bradford Co-op. In an interview for the CWS magazine The Producer in 1930, he declared “Modern architects must use modern materials in a modern way. Architecture must adapt itself to its environment, or die”, and spoke of the Architecture of Adventure as opposed to the Architecture of Tradition.

William Albert Johnson retired in 1950 and died on 25 June 1952 at his home, 8 Southern Crescent, Bramhall. He was married but had no children.

1899-1950      CWS Architects Department Balloon Street Manchester

Death Notice    Manchester Guardian 28 June 1952 page 8
Reference        Information from Richard Fletcher by email




Buildings and Designs

Building Name District Town/City County Country
Shop Premises and Public Hall. Platt Lane Rusholme   Manchester  GMCA  England
Alterations to Central Premises Harrogate   Harrogate  Yorkshire  England
New Branch Premises Byron Street Buxton   Buxton  Derbyshire  England
Old Bank Building Corporation Street Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
New Shop and alterations to existing premises Penketh Warrington Penketh  Warrington  Cheshire  England
Alterations and Extensions to Premises Goulden Street Warrington   Warrington  Cheshire  England
Shop-fitting Orford Lane Warrington   Warrington  Cheshire  England
New Model Bakery Winwick Road Warrington   Warrington  Cheshire  England
Reconstructing Shop Stockton Heath Warrington Stockton Heath  Warrington  Cheshire  England
12-Stall Stable (two storey) Erwood Street Warrington   Warrington  Cheshire  England
New Store, Birch Lane and Blocksage Street, Dukinfield Dukinfield  Tameside  GMCA  England
CWS Tea Warehouse Ordsall Lane Port of Manchester Ordsall  Salford  GMCA  England
Additions to Dairy Bosworth Street Bradford Manchester Bradford  Manchester  GMCA  England
Extension:: Hull Co-operative Society Dairy, Great Thornton Street, Hull   Hull  Yorkshire  England
Shops and Offices, Bury New Road, Prestwich   Prestwich  GMCA  England
Bakery. Warwick Road Prestwich   Prestwich  GMCA  England
Garage. Knot Lane, Prestwich   Prestwich  GMCA  England
Emporium Market Street Bury   Bury  GMCA  England
CWS Soap Factory Irlam Irlam  Salford  GMCA  England
Packing Factory Trafford Park Trafford Park  Stretford  GMCA  England
Extension to Tobacco Factory   Manchester  GMCA  England
Co-op 8 Eastbank Street Southport   Southport  GMCA  England
Sunwin House Department Store Sunbridge Road Bradford   Bradford  GMCA  England
Redfern Building Dantzic Street Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Dantzic Building 29 Dantzic Street Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Co-operative Store Lancaster Road Preston   Preston  Lancashire  England
Huddersfield Co-operative   Huddersfield  Yorkshire  England
Office building Manchester   Manchester  GMCA  England
Proposed Extension to Preserve Works Middleton   Middleton  GMCA  England
Proposed Perfumery factory at Droylsden.   Droylsden.  GMCA  England
Bomb Proof Shelter Mayes Street and Dantzic Street Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Dairy, Birdhall Lane, Cheadle Heath Cheasle Heath  Stockport  GMCA  England
“Revesby”, 8, Southern Crescent, Bramhall (attributed) Bramhall  Stockport  GMCA  England