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HOWARD, Adolph Gislingham

Born: 1853 06 22
Died: 1926


Mr. Adolph Gislingham HOWARD, the Chief Architect of the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT of the Cape Colony, was born in Southampton on the 22nd June 1853, and is a son of the late Adolph J. Howard Esq., formerly a professor of Music, residing in London, and afterwards in Aberdeen, Scotland. His scholastic necessities were satisfied at a school in Belfast, Ireland. At an early age he with his parents left Ireland, and settled in Scotland. Here he was apprenticed to architecture in the office of the late John Russell MacKENZIE, with whom he remained for five years, staying on after completing his articles for a further period of two and a half years.

In 1876 he came out to South Africa, and, joining the Civil Service, secured a position as junior draughtsman in the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT in Cape Town. He had a share in preparing the plans for the Houses of Parliament, and gradually worked his way up through successive grades in the drawing office until, in 1883, he was appointed Chief Draughtsman, a position he held continuously for fourteen years.

In 1897 he became Assistant Architect under the Chief Architect for the Department, the late H. S. GREAVES, Esq., and on the decease of the latter succeeded to his duties, which he is still ably fulfilling.

Mr. HOWARD prepared the revised drawings for the Houses of Parliament, the previous plans, which were supplied from an extraneous source, having been rejected; also those for the General Post Office, and the Education Department in Church Square, while amongst others may be mentioned the Custom House, Police Station and Post Office at Port Elizabeth.

Mr. HOWARD is a married man (1906), and has three grown up children. He is a member of the Society of Architects, and his residence is at Greenpoint."

[Transvaal Publishing; 1906: 214]

The following has been directly extracted from S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science, with web edits for this page:

Adolph G. Howard was educated in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and served an apprenticeship in architecture with John R. MacKENZIE in Scotland, remaining with the firm for a total of five years. He came to the Cape Colony in January 1876 and from September that year was employed as a draughtsman in the Public Works Department, Cape Town. In August 1883 he was promoted to chief draughtsman, and in July 1897 became assistant architect under the chief architect of the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, H.S. GREAVES. After Greaves's death he succeeded to the post of chief architect in July 1906. Among other work he prepared revised drawings for the Houses of Parliament and the General Post Office in Cape Town, retiring on pensiont in 1908 or 1909. He was a member of the (British) Society of Architects. A manuscript by him on the histories of Cape Town buildings is kept in the National Library of South Africa, Cape Town.

Howard's hobbies included meteorology, botany, astronomy and geology, but he made significant contributions to only the first of these. Several of his early meteorological papers were published in the Transactions of the South African Philosophical Society. "An investigation into the isobaric influences and cyclonic paths of South Africa" (1884-1886, Vol. 4, pp. 25-33) contains an analysis of the barometric indications of oncoming storms. He returned to the topic soon afterwards with "The winter storms of South Africa, illustrating the value of Cape Point as a warning station" (1886-1889, Vol. 5, pp. 204-215), in which he showed that it would be possible to forecast these storms one to three days ahead if a meteorological station were to be erected at Cape Point. In "The barometer; its reduction to sea level" (1886-1889, Vol. 5, pp. 259-265) he showed which method of reduction was best suited to South African conditions. The value of this work was recognised by the American meteorologist Professor Cleveland Abbe*, who in 1890 drew attention to the advances Howard had made in establishing a proper forecast service in South Africa.

Though he was not a member of either the South African Philosophical Society or its successor, the Royal Society of South Africa, Howard continued to publish papers in the Transactions of the latter society after its formation in 1908. These included "The rainfall of South Africa: the possibility of prediction over the south-west" (1908-1910, Vol. 1, pp. 363-390), based on an analysis of daily rainfall figures for several years and the development of daily pressure systems; and "Meteorology of South Africa: An investigation into the land and sea breeze conditions at Port Elizabeth" (1910-1912, Vol. 2, pp. 161-171). By 1912 he was working in the Cape Town branch office of the newly established Union Weather Service, and on 15 April that year issued its first forecast, covering the Cape south coast. He was still a weather forecaster in 1913, but by 1914 was no longer in the public service. Some of his later papers appeared in the annual Report of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science: In "South African meteorology: Weather forecasting" (1912, Vol. 9, pp. 55-64) he reviewed previous attempts to issue regular weather forecasts, and discussed the various types of weather, their seasonal occurrences, and their application to forecasting. In "South African meteorology; types of atmospheric pressure, their duration and movements" (1919, Vol. 16, pp. 273-284) he analysed the frequency of pressure types and their association with weather elements such as clouds.

Howard's interest in geology is shown by his donation of a specimen of nickeliferous pyrrhotite from Mount Ayliff, Griqualand East, to the South African Museum in 1908.

List of sources:
Cape of Good Hope. Civil service list, 1896, 1908.
Cape of Good Hope. Report of the trustees of the South African Museum, 1908.
History of meteorology in South Africa. Weather Bureau Newsletter, 1960, No. 139, pp. 1-48 (whole number).
Men of the times: Old colonists of the Cape Colony and Orange River Colony. Johannesburg: Transvaal Publishing Co., 1906.
National Automated Archival Information Retrieval System (NAAIRS). . Documents relating to Howard, Adolph Gislingham/Howard, A.G.
Royal Society of South Africa. Transactions, 1908-1912, Vol. 1-2.
South African Association for the Advancement of Science. Report, 1912, Vol. 9; 1919, Vol. 16.
South African Philosophical Society. Transactions, 1884-1886, Vol. 4.
South African who's who, 1908, 1909.
Venter, R.J. Bibliography of regional meteorological literature. Vol. 1. Southern Africa, 1486-1948. Pretoria: Weather Bureau, 1949.

Compiled by: C. Plug
Source of this entry:
S2A3 biographical database of southern African science,, as on Tuesday 12 January 2016.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

Customs House: 1891. Gqeberha (Port Elizabeth), Eastern Cape - Design Architect

Books citing HOWARD

S2A3 (Plug, C - Project Leader and main compiler). 2002-. S2A3 biographical database of southern African science. Webspace: WWW. pp Accessed 2018 08 02

Transvaal Publishing Co. 1905. Men of the Times : Pioneers of the Transvaal and glimpses of South Africa . Johannesburg, Cape Town and London: The Transvaal Publishing Co. pp 214

Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pp 31-32