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Sir Giles Gilbert Scott




Sir Giles Gilbert Scott, (9 November 1880 – 8 February 1960) was an English architect known for his work on such structures as Liverpool Cathedral, Waterloo Bridge and Battersea Power Station and designing the iconic red telephone box.

Born in Hampstead, London, Scott was one of six children and the third son of George Gilbert Scott, Jr. and his wife, Ellen King Samson. Like his famous grandfather, Sir George Gilbert Scott, he was primarily a church builder, his greatest individual commission being for the new Liverpool Anglican Cathedral.

Scott and his brothers were raised as Roman Catholics; their father was a Catholic convert. Giles attended Beaumont College on the recommendation of his father who admired the buildings of its preparatory school, the work of J.F.Bentley. In January 1899 Scott became an articled pupil in the office of Temple Moore, who had studied with Scott's father. 





In 1901, while Scott was still a pupil in Moore's practice, the diocese of Liverpool announced a competition to select the architect of a new cathedral. Two well-known architects were appointed as assessors for an open competition for architects wishing to be considered. The competition attracted 103 entries, from architects including Temple Moore, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Charles Reilly. With Moore's approval, Scott submitted his own entry, on which he worked in his spare time. In 1903, the assessors recommended that Scott should be appointed. There was widespread comment at the nomination of a twenty-two-year-old with no existing buildings to his credit. Scott admitted that so far his only design to be constructed had been a pipe-rack. 


The Anglican Cathedral foundations in 1904
The choice of winner was even more contentious when it emerged that Scott was a Roman Catholic, but the assessors' recommendation was accepted by the diocesan authorities. Scott's design was selected by the assessors, Norman Shaw and G. F. Bodley, Because of Scott's age and inexperience, the cathedral committee appointed Bodley as joint architect to work in tandem with him. A historian of Liverpool Cathedral observes that it was generous of Bodley to enter into a working relationship with a young and untried student. Bodley had been a close friend of Scott's father, but his collaboration with the young Scott was fractious, especially after Bodley accepted commissions to design two cathedrals in the US, necessitating frequent absences from Liverpool. Bodley died suddenly in 1907, leaving Scott in charge. The cathedral committee appointed Scott sole architect, and though it reserved the right to appoint another co-architect, it never seriously considered doing so.


The Anglican Cathedral under construction


In 1910 Scott realised that he was not happy with the main design, which looked like a traditional Gothic cathedral in the style of the previous century. He persuaded the cathedral committee to let him start all over again (a difficult decision, as some of the stonework had already been erected) and redesigned it as a simpler and more symmetrical building with a single massive central tower instead of the original proposal for twin towers. Scott's new plans provided more interior space. At the same time Scott modified the decorative style, losing much of the Gothic detailing and introducing a more modern, monumental style.

The Lady Chapel, the first part of the building to be completed, was consecrated in 1910 by Bishop Chavasse in the presence of two archbishops and 24 other bishops. Work was severely limited during the First World War, with a shortage of manpower, materials and money. By 1920, the workforce had been brought back up to strength and the stone quarries at Woolton, source of the red sandstone for most of the building, reopened. The first section of the main body of the cathedral was complete by 1924, and on 19 July 1924, the 20th anniversary of the laying of the foundation stone, the cathedral was consecrated in the presence of King George V and Queen Mary, and bishops and archbishops from round the globe.

Construction continued throughout the 1930s, but slowed drastically throughout the Second World War, as it had done during the First. Scott continued to work on the project until his death, refining the design as he went. He designed every aspect of the building down to the fine details. The cathedral was finished in 1978, nearly two decades after Scott's death.




K2 Telephone Kiosk
Apart from the Anglican Cathedral and Scotts other religious building he also designed Battersea Power Station, however, his most unusual design commission has to be for the General Post Office. He was one of three architects invited by the Royal Fine Arts Commission to submit designs for new telephone kiosks. The invitation came at the time Scott was made a trustee of Sir John Soane's Museum. His design was in the classical style, topped with a dome reminiscent of the mausoleum Soane designed for himself in St Pancras Old Churchyard, London. It was the chosen design and was put into production in cast iron as the GPO's "Kiosk no. 2" or "K2". Later designs adapted the same general look for mass production: the Jubilee kiosk, introduced for King George V's silver jubilee in 1935 and known as the "K6" eventually became a fixture in almost every town and village.











Scott remained working into his late 70s. He was working on designs for the Roman Catholic Church of Christ the King, Plymouth, when he developed lung cancer. Scott died on 8 February 1960 (aged 79). He  was buried by the monks of Ampleforth outside the west entrance of Liverpool Cathedral, alongside his wife (as a Roman Catholic he could not be buried inside the body of the Cathedral). Although originally planned in the 1942 design for the west end of the Cathedral to be within a porch, the site of the grave was eventually covered by a car park access road. The road layout was changed, the grave was restored and the grave marker replaced in 2012.






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Sources
Liverpool Central Library
Liverpool Records Office
Wikipedia
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography.
Lady Chapel Photograph
Creative Commons Andrew Dunn



Robert F Edwards


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