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ABURROW, Charles

Born: 1852
Died: 1933


Also recorded as ABERROW. A pioneer architect in Johannesburg, responsible for a number of commercial and domestic buildings in partnership with PE TREEBY (cf. ABURROW & TREEBY), Aburrow was born in Hambledon, Hampshire, England and educated at Brighton Grammar School. In 1868 he was articled to Francis Newman, a district land surveyor for the Isle of Wight and town engineer for Ryde. He worked for nine years as a civil engineer and architect before he joined the London contractors Mowlem & Burt, as an engineer. In 1879 he left for Kimberley where he was employed by the London & South African Exploration Company for nine years before leaving for Johannesburg in 1889.

Aburrow was appointed city engineer of Johannesburg in May 1892, a post he held until 1901, when a Town Council was appointed under the Imperial Government Municipality. In 1893 he also set up practice on his own account as an architect and engineer in Johannesburg. During his tenure as Town Engineer of Johannesburg he suprintended the maintenance of roads, the laying out of Joubert Park, as one of ten public parks he laid out, planned a sewerage scheme, although this was subvered by Pretoria with a view to putting it out to concession, but abandoned by the advent of war. He recommended the demolition of 82 houses after the Braamfontein explosion of 1896. In the boom year of 1895 some 2000 houses had been built.

In 1903 PE Treeby joined him in partnership. Aburrow was a keen freemason, 'a leading light in Transvaal Provincial Masonic circles' (Afr Archt Dec 1911:143) described him on the eve of his departure from South Africa for England where he was retiring on account of his health. He later returned to South Africa and continued to practise in Johannesburg with Treeby until the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in about May 1922.

[The following two paragraphs are extracted from S2A3 Biographical Database of Southern African Science

In 1899 Aburrow was responsible for one of the limited number of second order meteorological stations maintained by the Cape of Good Hope Meteorological Commission. Although his observations for 1899 were interrupted by the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War, he continued them in 1900 and 1901. His only publication on meteorology, "Rainfall at Johannesburg", appeared in the Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society (Vol. 24, p. 215) in 1898. It consisted of a table of mean monthly rainfall figures for Johannesburg during 1889-1897, based on the annual reports of the Public Works Department of the city of Johannesburg.

After his dismissal Aburrow began practising as an architect and civil engineer in the firm Aburrow & Treeby and supervised several large building projects in Johannesburg. The partnership was dissolved by mutual consent in 1922, after which he returned to England. He was a founding member of the South African Association for the Advancement of Science in 1902, and in 1903/4 served on the committee for Section C, which at that time included engineering and architecture. He remained a member for many years and served on the association's council for 1918/9. In 1917 he furthermore became a founding member of the South African Geographical Society. He was also a fellow of the Geological Society of London, a member of the (British) Society of Architects, an associate member of the (British) Institution of Civil Engineers, and deputy grandmaster of the English freemasons in the Transvaal.

Aburrow returned to England where he died.

The following is an excerpt from the South African Who's Who of 1912.
"ABURROW, Charles, Architect; b. 1852, at Hambleton, Hampshire ; 3rd s. of late Edward Aburrow ; educ. at Brighton. Architect for Consolidated Bdgs., John Orr & Co.'s building, Stuttaford's, St. Mary's Hall, Johannesburg, National Bank of O.R.C., etc., etc. Member of Rand, New and Automobile Clubs, Johannesburg. Add., Aburrow & Treeby, P.O. Box 3080, Johannesburg."
Submitted by William MARTINSON.

AMICE 1894; Soc Archts (Lon) SA branch; FRGS; Pres SAAE&A 1894-5 (Afr Archt Dec 1911:143; Building Sept 1919:296; TAD MHG 25438; Men Tvl 1905:49 port; SAAE&S Jnl Jan 1907:58; SAWW 1908, 1910, 1911)

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.

List of projects

With photographs
With notes

House Sir Thomas N Cullinan: The View: 1896-1897 : 1903. Parktown, Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect
The View: House Sir Thomas N Cullinan: 1896-1897. Johannesburg, Gauteng - Architect

Books citing ABURROW

Cooper, A A. 1986. The Freemasons of South Africa. Cape Town: Human & Rousseau. pp 70, 103, 123, 126, 129, 141

Shorten, John R; Johannesburg City Council. 1970. The Johannesburg saga. Johannesburg: John R Shorten. pp 569-570

van der Waal, Gerhard-Mark. 1987. From Mining Camp to Metropolis - The buildings of Johannesburg 1886-1940. Pretoria: Human Sciences Research Council. pp 94

Walker, Michael. 2013. The pioneer architects of Johannesburg and their buildings (1886 - 1899) with postcard illustrations. St James: The Kalk Bay Historical Association. pp 45-49, 65