Monday, 4 June 2012

Henry Bell Thorp, Goole architect

Members of the Goole Civic Society have recently been compiling a list of 'local heritage assets' - buildings which are an important part of the town's heritage and which planners  should therefore be aware of.

It became clear that several of these buildings were designed by Henry Bell Thorp, a local architect. So far we have found that he designed Bank Chambers (now the council offices) opened in 1892; the Clifton Gardens Methodist schoolroom [1890] and the adjacent Trinity Methodist church [1898] as well as the new Half Moon in Howden (now the Co-op shop) in 1890. I am sure that further research will add more buildings to this list. However no-one seemed to know much about Mr Thorp.

As I have  a lifelong interest in, and have written about, the Eastrington and Portington area I wondered whether there was a connection with Henry Bell of Portington Hall (see my recently published Eastrington history book).

After some research I found that there was.


Henry Bell of Portington [1729- 1816] was a landowner and farmer, lord of the manor of Portington and a friend and supporter of John Wesley. He and his wife, the former Mary Guy, had three sons and a daughter. Their eldest son Henry [1768- 1839] married Eleanor Wade and they had at least nine children.

One of their daughters, Maria [born 1800], married Robert Thorp at Eastrington in 1820. The couple lived at [Monken] Hadley in Middlesex (now part of Greater London) where their children were born. Their eldest son was Robert Hayton Thorp [b 1821], followed by Ellen Maria [1824], Henry Bell [1826] and Mary Ann [1828]. Both daughters died young - Mary Ann in 1843 aged 14 and Ellen aged 20 in 1844 and are commemorated in Eastrington church.

Robert also died and in 1841 Maria had married again to James Adcock, a linen draper. They lived in Wellingborough and their daughter Ellen Bell Adcock was born in 1844. Presumably she was named Ellen in memory of her sister.

By 1851 James too had died and Maria and Ellen were living at Temple Hirst with Maria's eldest son Robert, where he was farming. Robert's brother Henry Bell Thorp was living in York with his aunt and uncle.

Maria's younger sister Helen had married William Leak from Goole, a draper. Later uncle and nephew went into partnership as well known York drapers Leak and Thorp.

Meanwhile Robert married Ellen Acroyd in 1853. They had six children including another Henry Bell Thorp who was born in 1861 at Temple Hirst.

By 1881 the 20 year old Henry Bell Thorp described himself as an architect and was  lodging in London. I can find nothing about his training.

Although we know that he was designing local buildings by 1890/91, he also found time to make a trip to Canada. On 26th August 1891 at Toronto he married Emily Georgina  Hanning. They arrived in England aboard The Etruria on 12th September, having made the passage from New York to Liverpool.

Their son Henry Guy Hanning Thorp was born in 1895 at Goole. It is possible that he was born in a house in Clifton Gardens as it is known that Mr Thorp owned much of the land there.

The rest of Henry Bell Thorp's family had moved to Moorfields Farm on Goole Fields in the 1880s. His father died in 1890 and his mother in 1908 at Clifton Gardens.

His brother Robert Hayton Thorp lived at Willerby and another brother, Robert Justis Thorp, emigrated to Canada and lived at Telkwa in British Columbia.

Mrs Emily Georgina Thorp died in 1911 at Belle Vue House Doncaster. Henry Guy Hanning Thorp attended Haileybury School and was killed in France in 1915 whilst serving as a second lieutenant with 3rd battalion KOYLI. He was 19.

I believe Henry Bell Thorp died in 1953 but as yet have found no further details of his life.

If anyone can add further details to this account I would be pleased to include more about Henry Bell Thorp, who provided Goole with some of its impressive Victorian buildings.


Bank Chambers, Goole. Now East Riding Council offices.

1 comment:

  1. Hello, I have a pair of silver plate urns that are inscribed H.B. Thorp and Co. I was wondering if this is the same H.B. Thorp? I also did research to find an H.B. Thorp was invested in an automobile company. Any connection is hard to say. Do you know if there was an H.B. And Co affiliated with the architect H.B.? If that made any sense at all please contact me.

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