Building Name

Bolton Infirmary (Architectural Competition)

GMCA, England
Architectural Competition
Unplaced entry

Throughout the nineteenth century architectural competitions could create difficulties on occasion. The competition for Bolton Infirmary attracted 37 entries. However, only 14 of these were submitted to the assessor, Charles Barry, for assessment. Subsequently, an irate H J Paull, one of the 23 entrants denied the opportunity of having his designs reviewed wrote in complaint to the British Architect.

Competitions will without doubt, if things keep on as they are, have either to cease or to be legislated on. We regret to have again to announce, in connection with one of these strange scrambles, another insult to a long-suffering profession. We publish this week the report by Mr. Charles Barry, F.S.A., upon the plans which have been recently submitted for a new infirmary at Bolton. The statement made a month since that Mr. Barry had been chosen to adjudicate had quite set our minds at rest in this case, but we find that the appointment of an expert so known and honoured as this gentleman does not guarantee fair play, inasmuch as he himself may be made the victim of one of the round-about processes of doing business which seems inseparable from a local committee. Instead of openly submitting all the thirty-seven plans to Mr. Barry, only fourteen were granted that right, and thus his labour, which avowedly was for the purpose of securing satisfaction to all concerned, has been lost to twenty-three competitors! We are told that among the architects who have suffered this wrong are Messrs. F. W. Roper, H. J. Paull, &c. If this be so, the matter is certainly past a joke. [British Architect 31 May 1878 page 252]

BOLTON INFIRMARY COMPETITION. To the editor of the British Architect:  Sir, —The remarks in your last issue upon the Bolton Infirmary Competition have induced me to call attention to the wording of the "Instructions to Architects." The amount of accommodation. the cost, the number and scale of the drawings required are fixed imperatively; but the arrangements of the wards, etc., though fully described, are suggested only. Now I happen to know that my design was regarded by the committee from the first as "out of court," on account of its radical deviation from the proposed plan. It would, therefore, have been specially satisfactory to me if Mr. Barry's report had embraced all the competitive designs; the more so as the arrangement shown in my design had received the emphatic approval of perhaps the highest authority in the land, as being preferable to that "suggested" by the committee. A referee should always in my opinion make it a condition that all designs submitted in competition be open for his examination and report. Yours etc H J Paull 9 Montague Street, Russell Square, 3 June 1878. [British Architect 7 June 1878 page 270]

Reference    British Architect 31 May 1878 page 252
Reference    British Architect 7 June 1878 page 270