Henry Elder

Place of Birth
Manchester Canada

  • Born         April-June 1909 at Pendleton, Salford
  • Married     1933 Vera Russell CHECK
  • Died         1996

Henry Elder was born in Pendleton, Salford, in 1909, the son of Henry Elder, cabinet maker, and his wife, Jane. He received his education at the Royal Technical College in Salford (bricklaying), in the School of Architecture at the University of Manchester, and the Manchester College of Technology. He began his teaching career in 1933 at Manchester College of Art whilst also engaged in private practice with Gwylim Caradoc Roberts under the style Roberts Wood and Elder where he specialized in theatre and, more especially, cinema design. This represented a significant departure for a practice that had previously specialised in laying out new estates and producing house plans for speculative builders, particularly in Crumpsall.

Before the war Elder had become fascinated by Japanese architecture and had travelled to the country and had had his observations published. Ironically the expertise and insight he gained was utilised by the military during the war and he was consulted on how best to destroy Japanese buildings with aerial bombing. He served in the British forces from 1940-46 designing ordinance factories and doing weapons research for which he was awarded an OBE

In 1952 a partnership was formed between Enrico De Pierro and Henry Elder to implement the design for a technical college at Poole, Dorset, after the competition had been won by De Pierro in 1951. It was a general practice with special interest in schools and theatres. De Pierro was trained at McGill and Michigan Universities; Elder at Manchester University. Both partners also taught. In 1956 the partnership carried out the Middlesbrough Little Theatre. During this period Elder produced designs for two houses on a steeply sloping site at Alderley Edge

Disillusioned by the state of post-war British architecture Henry Elder emigrated to North America in 1958 when he was appointed professor in charge of graduate studies in architecture at Cornell University before teaching briefly at Stamford in 1961. The following year President Norman Mackenzie recruited him to direct the School of Architecture at University of British Columbia. He remained director for twelve years until his retirement in 1974. Henry Elder was an advocate for change and he developed a school that the Commonwealth Association of Architects called "unique in the English-speaking world". Elder used a number of methods to develop a creative sense in his students. His directions were controversial and unorthodox. He encouraged student representation in all of the school's committees and he fostered the increased enrolment of women into the School of Architecture. He stated that "The most significant change is that the school has been concerned with understanding architecture rather than the production of architects". In many ways his School of Architecture, its students and its faculty mirrored the changing culture of society in the late 1960s.

Buildings and Designs

Building Name District Town/City County Country
The Rota Cinema Ash Road and Thornley Lane Denton   Denton  GMCA  England
Factory Building. Factory Lane Crumpsall Crumpsall  Manchester  GMCA  England
Crumpsall Estate Crumpsall  Manchester  GMCA  England
The County (Essoldo) Cinema. Gorton Road / Priory Lane Reddish Stockport Reddish  Stockport  GMCA  England
38 Houses. Stanhorne Avenue Crumpsall Crumpsall  Manchester  GMCA  England
Cinema Reddish   Reddish  GMCA  England
The Longford Theatre (Essoldo) and CafĂ© Chester Road/Edge Lane Stretford   Stretford  GMCA  England
Alterations and Extensions: The Palace Cinema Ashworth Street Denton   Denton  GMCA  England
Reconstruction of Gaiety Cinema Peter Street and Mount Street Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
County Cinema 293 Castlemilk RoadKing's Park Glasgow King's Park  Glasgow    Scotland
Lyceum Cinema 908 Govan Road Glasgow G51 3AF   Glasgow    Scotland
Proposed Cinema, Northenden Road, Sale Sale  Trafford  GMCA  England
Ceylon Cinema and House. Thorpe Road Newton Heath Newton Heath  Manchester  GMCA  England
ABC Bridgeton 14 Orr Street Bridgeton Glasgow Bridgton  Glasgow    Scotland
Proposed Cinema Manchester Central  Manchester  GMCA  England
Squirrels Jump Alderley Edge   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Two Houses Alderley Edge   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Housing Estate Alderley Edge   Alderley Edge  Cheshire  England
Bijou Electric Cinema Gorton Road Reddish Reddish  Stockport  GMCA  England
Proposed Cinema Northenden Road, Sale Sale  Trafford  GMCA  England


Name Designation Formed Dissolved Location
Elder and De Pierro Architectural practice 1952 1956
Roberts Wood and Elder Architectural practice 1935 1937 Manchester