Image: chair by Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1903)
Post of 13.12.20: …around 1928 (Spedan) Lewis wooed C. H. Reilly, the ebullient professor of architecture at Liverpool University. Reilly was just then shedding his taste for American Beaux-Arts in favour of continental modernism...
“Sir Charles Herbert Reilly, (4 March 1874 – 2 February 1948) was an English architect and teacher. After training in two architectural practices in London he took up a part-time lectureship at the University of London in 1900, and from 1904 to 1933 he headed the Liverpool School of Architecture, which became world-famous under his leadership. He was largely responsible for establishing university training of architects as an alternative to the old system of apprenticeship.
Reilly was a strong and effective opponent of the Victorian Neo-Gothic style, which had dominated British architecture for decades. His dominance also ended the briefer popularity of the Arts and Crafts and Jugendstil movements in Britain, earning him the enmity of Charles Rennie Mackintosh, a local exponent of the latter. For many years Reilly favoured a form of Neo-Classicism strongly influenced by developments in American architecture. Later in his career, he embraced the principles of the modernist movement, and of town planning for social and aesthetic improvement.
In 1902 he entered the open competition for the design of the proposed new Liverpool Cathedral. He detested the Victorian Neo-Gothic style, describing the work of a leading proponent, Alfred Waterhouse, as having the “colours of mud and blood”. His proposed design was in the English Neo-Classical style, with a large central dome in the tradition of Wren’s St Paul’s. The assessors of the competition were G F Bodley, a leading exponent of the Gothic style, and Norman Shaw. Reilly’s design was one of eight highly commended entries that failed to gain inclusion in the final shortlist of five; it was the only classical design among them. Giles Gilbert Scott’s Gothic design was the eventual winner, but Reilly had made influential contacts in Liverpool, where much of his career came to be centred.
As a practising architect, Reilly was responsible for only a handful of buildings. They include cottages at Lower Road, Port Sunlight, for Lever (1905); Liverpool Students’ Union (1909); the Church of St Barnabas, Shacklewell, London (1909); and war memorials at Accrington (1920) and Durham (1928). Of these, Reilly’s professional colleagues regarded the Students’ Union building as his most characteristic work, but he himself preferred St Barnabas (Shacklewell Row, Hackney Downs, London E8), and said that it was “the building I should like to be remembered by, if any.”
Reilly was joint architect, with Thomas Hastings, of Devonshire House, Piccadilly, London (1923). He collaborated with his former pupils Lionel Budden and J. E. Marshall on the Leverhulme Building for the Liverpool School of Architecture (1933) and an extension to the Liverpool Students’ Union (1935). He was consultant architect for the new buildings for the Peter Jones and John Lewis department stores in London, for which the principal architect was Crabtree, another former pupil.”