OLD PLYMOUTH . UK
www.oldplymouth.uk
 

  Brian Moseley, Plymouth
Webpage created: September 17, 2019
Webpage updated: September 17, 2019

        

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GEORGE WIGHTWICK (1802-1872)

George Wightwick was born at Alyn Bank, near Mold in Flintshire on August 26th 1802.

In 1818 he was apprenticed to Mr Edward Lapidge, who built the bridge over the river Thames at Kingston.  He later tried to gain admittance to the Royal Academy School but failed and went off on an educational trip to Italy.  The buildings he saw there inspired him to become an architect, which he did, under Sir John Soane (1753-1837), the architect of the Bank of England. 

After spending a short time at Portsmouth, he moved to Plymouth in 1829 and set up his own practice.  In that same year he was elected as a member of the Plymouth Institution and became its President in 1848.

By 1851 he and his wife, Caroline, were living at 3 Athenaeum Terrace, Plymouth, where they had three Cornish lasses as housemaid, parlour maid and cook.

He soon become a well known character in the Town, largely due to him founding an exclusive literary group called "The Blue Friars".   The members wore monastic clothing and he took the name of "Brother Locke".

When the noted architect Mr John Foulston was about to retire, George entered into partnership with him and six months later took over the practice.  Among the many buildings he designed were the Esplanade on the Hoe, the Mechanics' Institute and the Devon and Cornwall Female Orphan Asylum in Lockyer Street.   He was also responsible for designing the first shop front added to the front of a house in George Street and was accused of having 'spoilt George Street forever'.

In addition to his talent as an architect, he was also a writer of comic songs and ballads and a gifted performer in amateur dramatics.   Through that interest he became acquainted with many of the famous theatrical names of the time, including Mr Charles Matthews and Mr William Macready.

When he decided it was time to retire, he handed the practice over to his stepbrother, Mr Walter Damant, who at the time of the 1851 Census was in lodgings at 4 Saint Michael's Terrace, Plymouth.

Mr George Wightwick died on July 9th 1872 at Portishead near Bristol.