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Thomas Shelmerdine - The Mentor

City Architect & Surveyor, Liverpool

b.1845 -  d.1921

AB Hubback was Thomas Shelmerdine's Articled Pupil (1887-1890) and Assistant (1890-1895).

Thomas Shelmerdine (1845-1921) was an Architect and Surveyor who came from an architectural dynasty. Three of his younger brothers, Anthony, Edward and Henry were also renowned architects and surveyors of Liverpool. Their father, Thomas Shelmerdine Sr. (c.1820-1895) was an estate agent, valuer, controller and advisor to prominent families of Liverpool including Lord Salisbury.


Born in Salford, Thomas Shelmerdine Jr. was educated at Liverpool Royal Institution (1855-1860) on Colquitt Street and was then apprenticed to Walter Scott, a Liverpool based architect.  In 1868 he started working in his father’s office. On 6 December 1871, at the age of 26, Thomas Shelmerdine was appointed as Surveyor (and Architect) to the Corporation of Liverpool at a salary of £700 (equivalent to £45,000 today), a post he held for the next 45 years. For a young professional man this was a prestigious appointment - he was the youngest ever Corporation chief officer and became one of the significant contributors to Liverpool’s built heritage in the 19th century.


Shelmerdine was a very versatile and prolific architect of public buildings and is credited with coining the motto ‘Modernise Everything’ as the sign of his philosophy for the city’s future development. 

Towards the end of the 19th century Shelmerdine became more involved in the design of buildings in Liverpool and he left the city with a fine heritage of housing civic buildings, schools, hospitals and monuments.  Among his notable designs are lodges in Sefton Park, layout of St. John’ Gardens (1904), City Analyst’s laboratories at 126 Mount Pleasant (now part of Liverpool University), the City Transport offices and Fire Service Headquarters in Hatton Garden (1897), alterations to the Council Chamber in Liverpool Town Hall (1887), Kensington Library (1890), Everton Library (1896) and Sefton Park Library (1911).


Shelmerdine used a variety of styles including Italian Renaissance, Tudor/Vernacular Revival, eclectic Jacobean/Arts & Crafts and English Renaissance. His buildings are well detailed complete with decorative gable ends, cupolas and turrets.


Thomas Shelmerdine moved to Rock Ferry and later to Blundellsands and was retained as a consultant to the Council after his retirement. He passed away on 26 January 1921 from a stroke. Today, Thomas Shelmerdine has many listed buildings to his names, reflecting his significant contribution to the construction of municipal buildings in Liverpool. 


Text extracted from:
i. John Tiernan, The Shelmerdine Architectural Dynasty
ii. John Tiernan, Messrs Cowell and Shelmerdine, and Dr. Carnegie: or, How Liverpool’s Public Library System Expanded from the 1890s.

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Charles Edwin Spooner

Selangor State Engineer (1892-1901), General Manager of Federated Malay States Railways (1901-1909)

b. between 6 April 1876-3 April 1877-d.14 August 1951


Charles Edwin Spooner was born in Wales. He graduated in Engineering at Trinity College Dublin and commenced a career with North Wales Narrow Gauge Railways. In 1876, he went to Ceylon to work in the Survey Department from 6 September onwards. Subsequently, he was transferred to the Ceylon Public Works Department on 24 August 1877 in which he served for 14 years. He was the Acting Provincial Engineer Central Province for seven months in 1885-1886 and Acting Provincial Engineer for Uva and Sabaragamuwa from 1887 to 1890 before appointed officially as Provincial Engineer for Sabaragamuwa on 11 April 1890.

C.E Spooner was elected an Associate Member of the Institution on 23 May 1882, and was transferred to the class of Members on 12 May 1896. He arrived in Selangor in 1891 with a mission to reorganize Selangor P.W.D - 14 November being his first day as  Head of Selangor P.W.D. Serving as State Engineer of Selangor from 1892 to 1901, he saw to the completion of the Selangor-Pahang Trunk Road, the Federal Secretariat building, Kuala Lumpur’s Ampang Waterworks and established the profitable P.W.D Factory in Brickfields. In 1901 he was appointed as the General Manager of the Federated Malay States Railways. It was Spooner’s vision to introduce the Saracenic style of buildings in Selangor. A.B Hubback enjoyed Spooner’s personal patronage and together they produced designs for quite a number of prominent buildings in the Federated Malay States. He received the C.M.G in 1904. A keen sportsman and an amateur artist, he passed away on 14th May 1909.

i. Straits Observer (Singapore), 16 July 1897, Selangor News
ii. Charles Edwin Spooner Collection, 1904-1907/09, Cambridge University Library
iii. Janus library, Obituary, Charles Edwin Spooner, C.M.G, 1853-1909
iv. J.M Gullick, Selections from The Selangor Journal 

v. ANM 19570066974: Application from C.E Spooner for the post of Director of Public Works Ceylon [21 Dec 1896].

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Henry Franklin Bellamy


Selangor Deputy State Engineer


Born in Plymouth, Henry Franklin Bellamy is the son of Architect and Engineer George David Bellamy (Consulting Engineer at the Corporation of Plymouth). In 1883, H.F Bellamy began his career in Selangor as the Superintendent of Selangor Public Works Department and in later years was appointed as the Deputy State Engineer to C.E Spooner. He was one of the founders of Selangor Club and is most remembered as Captain H.F Bellamy, the person who formed Kuala Lumpur’s Fire Brigade - the ‘Bellamy’s Brigade’ in 1884. He was promoted as a Lieutenant in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and served in World War I. Due to health reasons, he returned to Plymouth in 1904 and succeeded his father as Consulting Engineer of Corporation of Plymouth in 1907. H.F Bellamy was also the author of ‘Formation and Duties of the Selangor Fire Brigade: A Short Manual for the Guidance of Members’ published in Kuala Lumpur in 1891.

i. The Straits Times, 1 May 1916, Marriage
ii. Who was Who, www.Plymouth Data
iii. Straits Times Weekly Issue, 6 August 1884
iv. J.M. Gullick, A History of Kuala Lumpur 1856-1939 

No photograph available

Arthur Charles Alfred Norman


Architect, District Engineer


Arthur Charles Alfred Norman, the son to Captain Charles Sprys Norman (1814-1871) was born in Patrington, Yorkshire, England. He first worked as an Architect at Norman & Hine under his uncle, Architect and Surveyor Alfred Norman F.R.I.B.A (1823-1893) and as a Surveyor under George David Bellamy at C.E Consulting Engineer Corporation in Plymouth from 1874-1878. From 1879 to 1883 he served as an Inspector of Buildings, Chief Draughtsman and Surveyor at Borough Engineer, Plymouth. He became an Associate Member of Royal Institute of British Architects (R.I.B.A) in 1881. His career in Malaya began in 1884 as Chief Draughtsman and Assistant Superintendent to H.F Bellamy (son of his former superior, G.D Bellamy) in the Selangor Public Works Department. Signed up on 28 Aug 1883, his contract term was initially for 5 years at $1800 dollars per annum (with horse allowance). He was eventually promoted to the position of a State Architect. However, the post was abolished in 1895 and with that, A.C Norman took the post of a District Engineer. On 30 March 1896, he submitted his application for a R.I.B.A Fellowship. A.C Norman left for England in 1903 and worked with Boulton and Paul Ltd in Norwich until 1908. He returned to Plymouth and served as the President of Devon Architectural Society in 1928. He passed away on 17 October 1944.

Much of the earlier buildings in Kuala Lumpur were designed by A.C Norman. However most of these buildings have been demolished to make way for new developments i.e. the Court of Justice on Bukit Mahkamah (the present site of Menara Maybank), Pudu Jail (demolished except for the main entrance), Central Market (at the site of today’s Central Market), old Selangor Club (at the site of the present Royal Selangor Club) and the earlier Residency. Among his buildings in Kuala Lumpur that are still intact are the old Victoria Institution at Jalan Bandar, St. Mary’s Church and Bangunan Sultan Abdul Samad (the Federal Secretariat) on Jalan Raja.

RIBA Biographical Files of A.C Norman

i. Who Was Who,

ii. Antonia Brodie, Directory of British Architects, 1834-1914: Vol 2 (L-Z)

iii. Selangor PWD files 09.09.1896

iv. Selangor PWD Files No.293/83 Re: Appointment of Mr. A.C Norman as Assistant Superintendant & Chief Draughtsman PWD v. Dr. A. Ghafar Ahmad, Chronological Biography of Arthur Charles Alfred Norman 
vi. Journal of the Malaysian Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society Vol. 70, No. 1 (272) (1997) 

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