Fresh light on architect who helped resort in its hour of need

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THEY were saved from the scrapheap after being discovered gathering dust in a garage during a house clearance.

And now the life’s work of renowned Scarborough architect TW Whipp will go under the hammer in an auction in his home town on Saturday.

Thousands of plans and drawings charting the development of Scarborough and surrounding villages during one of the most turbulent periods in its history are for sale, after being separated into 56 lots by staff at David Duggleby auctioneers.

Thomas William Whipp was born in 1880, the son of a Scarborough wheelwright, and studied at Scarborough School of Art between 1894 and 1899, when he was among the prize-winning students.

He worked in the architect’s department at London County Council and became an associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1902 before setting up his own practice in York Place, Scarborough, soon moving to 15 Valley Bridge Parade, an office he maintained until his death in 1950.

He was the man the town turned to in its hour of need after the tranquil and defenceless resort found itself unexpectedly on the front line when it became the first English town to be shelled by the German navy in the First World War.

The attacks, by two battlecruisers early on Wednesday, December 16, 1914, sparked national outrage and left 18 dead. They included hits on landmarks such as Scarborough Castle and the Grand Hotel as well as dozens of residential properties.

And it was in the rubble-strewn aftermath that Whipp went to work, with his practice surveying the damage in a series of reports, which are likely to form some of the most sought after pieces in the sale.

After the war, during which he served in the Royal Naval Air Service, Whip worked both as an architect and surveyor on many of the new housing schemes and estates that sprang up and again turned his hand to war-time reconstruction as a war damage assessor during the Second World War.

His work was not just confined to the town, and his legacy can also be seen in many of the houses in Scalby, Newby, Raincliffe, Cayton, Ayton, Seamer and Sherburn.

Auctioneer David Duggleby said it was difficult to say how much the lots might raise but he expects them to generate plenty of interest.

“I think there will be a lot of interest because it’s a bit of social history and it charts the development and expansion of Scarborough from a period of 1910 to the Second World War and beyond,” he said.

“You can see the joining up of Scarborough to the outlying villages. And it offers the public a wonderful opportunity to come and see whether the plans for their house are included in it, and there are literally thousands of plans and drawings.”

He added: “We have divided them up into areas of interest. It might be something where you get up to £200 for an individual lot. We expect there will be a lot of local interest.”

Mr Duggleby said he and his staff had spent hours sifting through the plans and they were probably the first people to see them for nearly a century.

“We are quite fascinated by it and it’s taken a lot of sorting out. When we delved into it most of them were rolled up in old-fashioned pink ribbons and when we undid them we were probably the first people to look at them since the 1920s.

“It really was fascinating to roll the plans out and see what was inside.”

He said they had also been taken aback by the sheer quality of the work, some of which is illustrated in watercolour. He added: “Quite a few are works of art in their own right.”

Whipp was also architect to the Scarborough Historical Pageant of 1912, being responsible for several structures including the grandstands.

He also passed on his knowledge and skills to future generations of builders and designers, lecturing on building construction in evening classes in the town during the 1920s and 1930s.

The drawings, which were found in a garage in the York area, will be available for viewing at David Duggleby’s Vine Street salerooms between 10am and 7pm tomorrow. They can be also be seen online at www.davidduggleby.com – where a free catalogue is also available.

The sale, which will also feature a collection of antique furniture, ceramics, jewellery and pictures, will take place on Saturday, starting at 9am. .

simon.bristow@ypn.co.uk