New book on the life and architecture of John Parker
The Parker, Staniforth and Bieldt Collection (BC729) in Special Collections and Archives contains about 1740 architectural drawings of buildings erected mainly in Cape Town in the late Victorian and Edwardian eras. John Parker (1866-1921) was the principal of one of the largest architectural companies in Cape Town and was also active in public life, including being Mayor of Greater Cape Town for two terms from 1913.
Howard Parker, a grandson of John Parker, assisted by his brother Graham, both architects themselves, and Howard’s wife Natalie, researched the drawings extensively to make a selection to illustrate a new book on John Parker. The drawings include hotels (e.g. The White House, The Green Hanson), schools (Rustenberg and Wynberg Girls’ High Schools), business premises (e.g. Garlicks and Hepworths), residences and places of worship (e.g. Mowbray Presbyterian Church and the iconic Great Synagogue). The draughtsmanship is of a remarkably high standard reflecting strength of concept as well as fine colouring and decorative features, making the drawings artworks in their own right.
Cover of book on John Parker.
As a source for the accompanying text, Howard also made use of an unpublished manuscript on the work of John Parker by Owen Pryce-Lewis, a former Professor of Architecture at UCT. This and related research material form part of an eponymous manuscript collection (BC1074) in the custody of Special Collections.
Howard and Graham together with their wives visited Special Collections and Archives on 9 March 2015 to present copies of the book in printed and digital form for deposit in the Jagger Library where it can be accessed. The book is lavishly illustrated with images of the drawings that were digitised by UCT Libraries’ Digital Services Unit. Further details are at www.wakefields.co.nz.
Map of Cape Town c 1900 showing buildings built or altered by Parker and Forsyth, 1890-1921. (Special Collections and Archives, UCT Libraries, BC729)
Article by Clive Kirkwood.