Architect. The son of wealthy mill-owning quaker parents. Born in Liverpool, he was educated at the quaker Grove School in Tottenham (Middlesex). As a young architect he spent many of his early years travelling in Europe and studying in France, Italy and Germany. Upon his return to England, he set up his own architectural practice in Manchester. During his twelve years there, his skills were in great demand, especially for the many new public buildings that the city authorities commissioned in the High Victorian era. He won the competition to build the Assize Courts in 1859 and other buildings soon followed: the original Owens Park Building (now the University of Manchester), Strangeways Prison, the Refuge Assurances Building (now the Palace Hotel) and the National Provincial Bank. He also erected fine buildings for the City of Liverpool, such as the Lime Street Station Hotel (1868-71). The most notable of Waterhouse's Northern structures, however, was the new Manchester Town Hall (1868-77). Eventually, he moved south to London, where he designed the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors off Parliament Square and the Guilds' College in South Kensington. He became most renowned, however, for the magnificent Natural History Museum (1873-81), also in South Kensington. He also created a number of Oxbridge Colleges - Balliol College (Oxford) and Pembroke College (Cambridge). He was probably the most successful of all Victorian architects. His planning skills were recognised at an early stage, but appreciation of his stylistic achievements has taken longer. Influenced by both Ruskin and Pugin, as well as the more practical approach of George Gilbert Scott, he developed his own slant on the composition of forms and a predilection for simple bold ornamentation to equal the growing scale of his designs. Amongst the many honours he received was his presidency of the Royal Institute of British Architects from 1888-1891 - a post which both his son, Paul and grandson, Michael held after him. Though a most prolific architect, he was also a furniture designer and painter and built many smaller domestic buildings. For example, his own residences: Barcombe Cottage (at Fallowfield in Manchester 1864), Foxhill House (at Whiteknights in Earley, Berkshire 1868) and Yattendon Court (also in Berkshire 1877). This latter county was his home in his later years and he was well known for designing such local buildings as the town hall in Reading.
Bio by: julia&keld