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ACKERMANN, Adolphus William

Born: 1845
Died: 1910


An architect and civil engineer who practised in Cape Town, Ackermann trained as a civil engineer in England where he was articled to Henry Grissell, a government contractor. After completing articles, he was employed by Bramwell Charles Cubitt, of Cubitt & May, Engineers and was subsequently employed as a draughtsman by the Admiralty in London for ten years (1865-75) where he also worked as an engineer. In 1875 he left for Cape Town where he was employed as assistant to WG BROUNGER, the Railway Engineer. In April 1875 he was commissioned, in his private capacity, to superintend the building of the west end of St Saviour's Church, Claremont, which included the building of the tower. Problems arose; on a visit to England in 1878 he consulted William BUTTERFIELD about the church building; it was finally dedicated in December 1880. While in public service, ACKERMANN designed/supervised the Railway Terminal Buildings in Cape Town, c1875, and in 1876 was put in charge of the Houses of Parliament following C FREEMAN's dismissal and until the arrival of HS GREAVES in the same year. He gave evidence before a parliamentary enquiry into FREEMAN's work on the Houses of Parliament; asked if he had a large staff employed (in the PUBLIC WORKS DEPARTMENT, Cape Town), he replied 'it might be called a large staff but that they were not all employed. They were Mr HS GREAVES, Mr Lees, Mr HOWARD and Mr Winder. Mr GREAVES had been sent out to replace Mr McAndrew and Mr Howard was only partly employed '(Minutes of Evidence 1876:1-23).

In 1878 Ackermann left government service and entered into partnership with an engineer, H THWAITES, until 1880. During this period he was a director of the South Africa Glass Company which made Woodstock glass. For about ten years he practised alone and then (c1900) he went into partnership with WM ADAMSON in Cape Town (cf. ACKERMANN & ADAMSON). Ackermann was a founder member of the Engineering and Architectural Association of South Africa (EAASA) in Cape Town in 1884 and in 1898 he was on the committee to draw up the constitution for the proposed South African Society of Architects (SASA) of which he was a founder member and which in 1902 became the Cape Institute of Architects.

Mem EAASA 1884; SASA 1901; Council Mem CIA 1902 (Afr Archt Jul 1911:33; ISAA and CIA Papers. CAD A1659; Langham-Carter 1979; Minutes of Evidence, May 1876:1-23; Picton-Seymour 1977; Radford 1979)

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

Bloemendal: c1882. Mowbray, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Glenara: 1883. Rosebank, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Great Westerford (Hotel?) add: 1883. Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Mariendahl Brewery: 1879. Newlands, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
Railway Station: 1863 : 1873. Wellington, Western Cape - Architect Chief design engineer
Railway Station - Second: 1876. Central, Cape Town, Western Cape - Design Architect
SA Glass Works: 1878. Mowbray, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect
St Saviour's Church: 1850 : 1871 : 1904. Claremont, Cape Town, Western Cape - Architect *

Books citing ACKERMANN

Brown, SM. 1969. Architects and others: an annotated list of people of South African interest appearing in the RIBA Journal 1880-1925. Johannesburg: Unpublished dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand. pp

Fransen, Hans. 2004. The old buildings of the Cape. A survey of extant architecture from before c1910 in the area of Cape Town - Calvinia - Colesberg - Uitenhage. Johannesburg & Cape Town: Jonathan Ball Publishers. pp 104

Johnson, Brian Andrew. 1987. Domestic architecture at the Cape, 1892-1912 : Herbert Baker, his associates and his contemporaries. Cape Town: Unpublished Thesis UNISA. pp

Johnson, Brian Andrew. 1979. An art historical study of the architecture of the Southern Cape Peninsula, 1880-1913 : houses and small business premises. : Unpublished Thesis UNISA. pp fig. 68

Picton-Seymour, Désirée. 1989. Historical Buildings in South Africa. Cape Town: Struikhof Publishers. pp 42, 54, 107

Walker, Michael. 2012. Early architects of Cape Town and their buildings (1820 - 1926) with postcard illustrations, The. St James: Michael Walker. pp 23-24

Walker, Michael. 2015. Old hotels of Cape Town (1890-1911), The : A history long forgotten, seldom told. St James: Published Privately. pp 2, 3, 71