Alexander Scrivener (1852-1921)
Alexander Scrivener, the architect who designed Fenton town hall, was born in Shelton on April 19th, 1852.
His father, Robert, and his elder brother, Edward, were architects. During 1868, Robert and Edward went into partnership and formed Robert Scrivener and Son whose offices were in Howard Place, Shelton. The firm designed the Mechanics Institution in Pall Mall and the Queen’s Hotel in Albion Street which later became Hanley Town Hall.
Alexander was educated at Hanley Art School. He became an architect and joined the firm. When their father died in 1878, Edward and Alexander acquired the practice.
Alexander married Anne Twyford. They had five children. The family lived in Endon where they worshipped at the parish church.
Alexander’s hobbies were music and archaeology. He conducted the Endon Choral Society and was choirmaster at the parish church.
A member of the North Staffordshire Field Club, he took part in archaeological digs and led field trips to historic buildings. The club made him its president for the year 1895-96. He undertook historical research and wrote articles for its journal. In 1904, the Field Club awarded him the Garner Medal for services to archaeology and made him its president again a year later. During 1914, he excavated Castle Hill, at Audley proving conclusively that the de Audley family had built a castle there in the Middle Ages.
Politically, the Scriveners were Conservatives. They designed Hanley’s Conservative Club in Trinity Street which opened on February 25th, 1878.
Edward and Alexander were astute businessmen who used their professional skill and expertise to make Robert Scrivener and Son the area’s leading architects.
Sanitary ware manufacturer, Thomas Twyford employed the firm to design his Cliffe Vale factory. The practice built churches and schools throughout The Potteries and designed The Sentinel’s office in Foundry Street, Hanley. It designed numerous buildings in the town including the Roman Catholic Church in Jasper Street, the Higher Grade Elementary School, the Freemasons Hall in Cheapside and the telephone exchange in Marsh Street.
The buildings in Fenton which the firm designed included Queen Street Board Schools, the Cemetery Chapels and the Temperance Coffee Tavern in City Road. It built shops and offices in Christchurch Street, laid out Albert Square and designed the town hall.
Alexander designed St. Paul’s Church in Victoria Road, Newcastle-under-Lyme whose foundation Stone was laid by Sir Lovelace Stamer, the Bishop of Shrewsbury, on June 15th, 1905. Edward died while the church was being constructed and Alexander became the senior partner in the firm.
Consecrated by the Bishop of Lichfield in 1908, St. Paul’s was built of stone. A perpendicular style building, the church cost almost £700. The building, which could accommodate over 500 worshippers, had an octagonal spire. It had central heating and was lit by gas lights.
Alexander remained in practice until his death. Taken ill suddenly, he died aged 69 on December 17th, 1921 and was buried in Endon churchyard.
Copyright Betty Cooper – The Phoenix Trust 2013