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WALGATE, Charles Percival

Born: 1886 02 04
Died: 1972 04 25

Architect

SACA:
Reg No: 165
Year registered: 1927


List of Structures

ARIBA 1913

Was born in Beverley, Yorkshire, England and educated at Beverley Grammar School. He was articled to Sir Alfred Gelder in Hull for four and three-quarter years (1902-1906), during a period when that city was being remodelled, and made a particular study of the two churches at Beverley, while studying part-time at the School of Art in Hull. In 1907 he won a National Scholarship in Architecture and went to the Architectural School of the Royal College of Art, South Kensington and worked for experience as an assistant in the office of Fair & Myer, ARIBA, in London. The work was mainly small-scale and of a domestic nature. Walgate spent much time sketching and making notes of the old buildings of Kent, Surrey, Sussex and the Thames Valley. He was awarded Associateship of the Royal College of Art in 1909 and attended the British School at Rome in 1910 as a Royal College of Art Travelling Scholar, in Rome he made a special study of domes. He then returned to the Royal College of Art (RCA) and won the Grissell Gold Medal; he met his future wife, Marion Mason, a fellow student at the RCA where she was studying sculpture, they married in 1912. His report on the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto in Rome won him an Honorary Mention in an Essay Medal competition, the report and the measured drawings are in the RIBA Library in London. Meanwhile he worked in the office of Professor Beresford Pite, FRIBA, from 1911 until the spring of 1914 when he became chief assistant to Herbert BAKER in London. According to Walgate's own account 'Herbert Baker (HB to all his intimates) rang up asking him [Pite] to send some one to help on Delhi. He sent me. This was 1913. We unpacked a crate of documents which HB had brought from India, including approved sketches for the two Secretariat buildings each about as long as the two UCT residences together plus the space in between them. He rented a house in Eaton Square and I saw it fitted up as an office ... We soon had a staff of about 10 ... and though I was among the younger I found myself in charge, exchange of all information, and buffer to guard HB from the daily worries of a hastily assembled staff. I worked on the Secretariats until 1920 being rejected for military service and shared the time between London and Delhi' (Walgate Papers. CAD A1659. Add 2/1). Walgate visited India three times. Baker acknowledged Walgate's help in his autobiography 'Walgate, for some years my trusted assistant at Delhi who settled at Cape Town' (Baker 1944:54). Walgate continued his account of his career 'In 1920 JM SOLOMON called M. at Barton Street. As HB was unwell ... I had to do the entertaining ... He (Solomon) explained that he had come to London to find some one to help him with UCT ... a couple of days later Solomon came back, and asked me if I would go. I had malaria, and found England very cold after Delhi, also I did not want to stand in the way of men who had been in the war ... I came to Cape Town at my own expense and with no obligations on either side, to see whether Solomon and I could work together' (Walgate Papers, CAD A1659. Add 2/1). In this description of how he came to South Africa Walgate indicates that he was directly approached by Solomon to come to assist with UCT. This is differs significantly from the account so far accepted, that he had been sent by Baker to help Solomon.

Walgate arrived in South Africa in June 1920 with a view to partnership with Solomon but only a few months later Solomon committed suicide. Walgate was left to handle the work. There various stories in the periodicals concerning Walgate's origins: 'Mr CP Walgate is new to South Africa, but he came to assist the late Mr Solomon with the highest credentials from the office of Sir Edwin LUTYENS, ARA' (AB&E Feb 1921 suppl.) This was later given as 'one time manager of Herbert Baker's office in London and also engaged on the Delhi scheme' (AB&E Mar 1926:25).

On Solomon's death the University Buildings Committee immediately proceeded with the appointment of architects and Walgate moved into the office accommodation of the appointees HAWKE & McKINLAY together with Solomon's ex-draughtsman TW MILLIGAN and an assistant CHN MERRIFIELD.

In 1920 Walgate entered into partnership with a former Lutyens's employee, LA ELSWORTH (cf WALGATE & ELSWORTH) 'When U.C.T. was ready for the Bolus Herbarium and wanted additions to some of the other buildings I carried on in collaboration with LA Elsworth whom I had taken into partnership in 1920 to bear the main burden of any general practice that might come our way and keep me as free as possible for U.C.T.' (Walgate papers. CAD A 1659. Add 2/1). The residences and general layout of UCT were revised and drawn up by Hawke & McKinlay with Walgate following a new contract let in 1924. SNAPE had pointed out insufficiencies in Solomon's original layout while Solomon was alive. According to Walgate 'Solomon's plan was in straight terraces disregarding the site curvature ... Marshall (AJ MARSHALL) for Solomon put in a favourable report with calculations that Snape demolished ... the feasibility of the scheme was in doubt. This is when Solomon shot himself and I was appointed with HAWKE & McKINLAY. I found myself, fresh from the vast geometry of Delhi, working happily on the curved lay-out, which saved the scheme' (letter from CP Walgate to R Stubbs. March 31, 1968. Walgate papers. CAD A1659. Add 2/1). This assistance was evidently crucial to the scheme. The site and original lay-out of the University remains among the most spectacular University sites in the world.

Walgate later supervised the building of Noordhoek for Sir Drummond Chaplin, designed by Baker in London. Baker handed the commission over to Walgate with the approval of the Chaplins in about 1921/1922. The alterations Walgate made to Baker's scheme are interesting, among them was the abolition of gables which were replaced by a flat cornice, a fashionable notion in the 1920s, considered (cf GLP MOERDYK) more authentically 'of the Cape' than the gable. But most of these alterations to Baker's plan were amended to something close to the original Baker design before Noordhoek was begun.

Walgate succeeded Baker as architect to the Diocesan College, Rondebosch in Cape Town in 1920 after Baker had finally severed his ties with South Africa); he collaborated later with FK KENDALL, Hawke & McKinlay, BGL MANSERGH and KALLENBACH, KENNEDY & FURNER, among other architects, on several Cape Town buildings and was in association with HJ BROWNLEE as Architects for the city of Cape Town about 1935. He also wrote a number of articles and contributed radio talks on South African art, among which was a talk entitled 'Architecture of the Cape', given on 30 September 1935, the year in which he was awarded the King's Silver Jubilee Medal. In 1941 he won bronze medal for Stellenbosch Town Hall.

Walgate had considerable interest, which he shared with his wife, in sculpture, carving and modelling. This led to his sponsorship in terms of commissions of Herbert Meyerowitz who became head of sculpture at the Michaelis School of Art around 1925 and who despised the work he was most often asked to carry out for the PWD, 'the wretched atavisms' of fruit and vegetable festoon decoration and of 'dreadful pseudo renaissance and baroque stucco ornaments' (SAAR Mar 1928:11, 12). Meyerowitz advocated a closer relationship between architect and sculptor and collaborated thus with Walgate on a number of buildings including several at the University of Cape Town. In doing so he incidentally continued Baker's ideals as well. Meyerowitz was to speak enthusiastically of Walgate's 'co-operation and sympathy' regarding work at the University (SAAR Mar 1928:11, 12). Marion WALGATE was, incidentally, responsible for the modelling of relief of the head of Robert HOWDEN on the Robert Howden prize medal (1936.) Walgate was a longstanding member of the Committee of the Cape Provincial Institute of Architects from 1922 to 1936 and President of the CPIA in 1927 and from 1934 to 1936. He was Chairman of the K Club and Past President of the Mummer's Club. He lived at Gable End, Flower St, Gardens, Cape Town, and died at Fish Hoek, Cape, a few months after the death of his partner Lancelot Andrew ELSWORTH.

There is no record of how long he lived at Gable End but he lived most of his life in the house he built in the 1930s in Clovelly above the golf course. It was called Silverstream as it was on the edge of a small valley down which ran a stream in the wet months. It was a modernist cube with flat roof and large picture windows facing west over the golf course - they were often sucked during south-east gales. It is still there but has unfortunately had a wooden deck attached to the front which spoils the simplicity of the original form. They sold the house in the 60s and built another very ordinary one on the mountain slope at the junction of Fish Hoek Main Road and Kommetjie Road. This additional information was kindly sent to us by Barrie Gasson whose parents and grandparents were family friends of WALGATE.

(AB&E Feb 1921:1, 6; AB&E Mar 1921:5; AB&E Sep 1935:7; Historia May 1983:88; SA Archt Nov 1940:296, 297; SAAR Mar 1928:11-12; SAAR Nov 1933:275-8; SAAR Apr 1934:108; SAAR May 1935:132; SESA 11:309-10; Walgate papers. CAD A1659. Add 2/1; Walgate papers. UCT MS and Arc BC 318; WHK 1933-34:166; SAWW 1931-32 port)

Publ: Report on the Church of Santa Maria di Loreto in Trajan's Forum, Rome. 1910. RIBA Libr. London; Impressions of Indian life and art, AB&E May 1921:7, 9; Art and University education, AB&E Nov 1921:27; South Africa in the British Empire Exhibition, Arch Rev 1924:242-47; A national treasure in danger, the architectural features of Cape Town's Castle, In: South African Nation, 11 July 1925:21-23 ill; Vergelegen, SAAR Dec 1926:100-101 ill); The romance of modern building in South Africa, Cape Times Annual, Dec 1931:601; Art and the Oxford Movement, typescript of talk given in St George's Cathedral, Cape Town. 1933. 14pp. Walgate papers UCT Ms and Arc BC 318. 3a; Religion and Art, typescript of 3 lectures given in St George's Cathedral, 1934. 14pp. Walgate papers UCT MS and Arc BC 318. 3c; Architecture of the Cape, broadcast from Cape Town 30 Sept 1935. Walgate papers UCT MS and Arc. BC 318 3d; Professional propaganda, AB&E Nov 1936:11; Retiring President's address, AB&E Apr 1936:13, 14, 20; Architectural publicity and propaganda, SAAR Jan 1937:34-42; Correspondence, SAAR Jul 1946:187

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.