Peter Womersley, Architect, 1923 -1993. Talk: ‘The Best House in Britain’

Farnley Hey house near Farnley Tyas. Photo by Neil Jackson.

New North Road Baptist Church, Huddersfield
Wednesday, May 24, 2023

Ninety people attended this evening talk organised by Huddersfield Civic Society on Cleckheaton-born architect Peter Womersley. Attendees had travelled distances up to 100 miles and included members of the Modernists and The Twentieth Century Society.

The talk by Professor Neil Jackson, Professor Emeritus of Architecture at the University of Liverpool and a Past-President of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain, celebrated the centenary of the birth of Peter Womersley, the modernist architect whose distinguished career began with his 1953-54 design for Farnley Hey, near Huddersfield.

This lecture covered Womersley’s architecture, moving from houses to medical and governmental buildings, sports stadia and office buildings, including the Midland Bank (now HSBC) in Huddersfield.

In his day Womersley was highly regarded and nine of his buildings are now listed – six in Scotland and three in England. His buildings all involved innovative designs and modern materials, often including much glass and concrete, albeit with smaller room sizes and higher heating costs than many would now consider desirable.

Womersley settled in the Scottish borders where he built his practice and where many of his surviving buildings are to be found, before undertaking later work in Hong Kong.

The lecture coincided with the publication, by the Twentieth Century Society, Historic England and Liverpool University Press, of the first book on Peter Womersley, written by the speaker. Attendees were able to purchase copies at a discounted price.