Woman Architects from 1940

The earliest recorded instance of a woman practicing architecture in the North of England is Lady Anne Clifford, who in the 17th century controlled both the design and building of improvements to her Westmorland Estate. Two hundred years later, Sarah Losh not only designed St Mary’s Church at Wreay near Carlisle in 1842; but as a member of a prominent Cumberland family, she was able to donate the land and funds to build the church on condition “that she be left unrestricted as to the mode of building it.” Both were self-taught architects who developed their hobby of designing buildings as a leisure pursuit. Nevertheless, they were centuries ahead their time.

The Association’s Archives do not mention the names of women architects before the 20th Century, although photographs capture them on organised events visiting sites of historical interest in Cumberland, Durham, Newcastle and Northumberland. Some women practiced outside the auspices of professional bodies, often trained by their fathers within the family business. They did not participate in significant numbers until after the First World War, when the RIBA admitted them on equal terms to the men. With the advent of formal architectural education, pioneered by the NAA, they became more independent.

Records of female members of the Association from the mid 20th Century show only the following names:

Diana Rowntree 1940
Mary White 1948
Ada A Tweddle 1949
Pamela Kidd 1949
Margaret Steel 1950
Vivian J Elliot 1951
Margaret M Adams 1951
Audrey M Aitken 1952
Annette Hynes 1952
Pauline Maddison 1952
Jill M Raines 1952
Joan Adie 1953
Mary M Preston 1954
Mary M Foster 1956
June E Coxon 1956
Rosemary Whittaker 1960
Helen D Brown 1970
Catherine Jenkins 1971

Diana Rowntree was born in 1913, qualified as an architect at the beginning of the Second World War and became a highly regarded architectural writer. She worked with Robert Matthew Johnson Marshall, and Ove Arup who was born in Heaton, Newcastle upon Tyne. She joined the NAA on her move to the North.

Ada Tweddle worked in the family business.

June Coxon practiced in Cumbria and was on the Regional Council as Chair of the RIBA Cumbria Branch.

Catherine Jenkins was a partner in the architectural office with her husband Nigel

If you know about the women architects noted above or any other female architects in the area before RIBA regionalisation in 1971, the Association would be pleased to hear from you.

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