Name

Richard Owens

Designation
Architect
Born
1831
Place of Birth
Y Ffôr (Four Crosses).
Location
Liverpool
Died
1891

  • Birth date            1831
  • Marriage              6 July 1858 to Margaret Roberts at Great Homer Street Chapel, Liverpool.
  • Death date          24 December 1891 at his residence, Rhianva, Anfield Road, Liverpool
  • Burial                  Anfield Cemetery

Richard Owens was born in 1831 at Plas Bell, Y Ffôr, (Four Crosses) a small village north-east of Pwllheli, on the Llŷn Peninsula in Caernarvonshire, and was the eldest son of Griffith Owens, (1801-1889) a carpenter and builder, and Catherine his wife. After a short period of elementary education, he was apprenticed to his father and learned the trade of joiner and carpenter. Like so many of his north Welsh compatriots in 1851 he gravitated to Liverpool. At the time the city was, in effect, the economic capital of North Wales with many Welsh-owned building firms and may opportunities for advancement. Here Richard Owens found work as a clerk and later as foreman to John Jones, a builder, in Everton. John Jones later emigrated to the USA and Owens entered the office of Williams and Jones, Castle Street, Liverpool, surveyors and estate agents, where he learnt the principles of architecture and surveying. At this period of his life he also attended night schools and classes at the Institute of Engineering, and according to his obituary “spared no effort to fit himself for the better position he was determined to win.”

Richard Owens is generally understood to have established independent practice in 1862, at the age of thirty, although little is known of his activities in the first two years of operation. The earliest pieces of correspondence indicate that the practice was established at 14, Everton Village, amidst the Welsh community of Everton, and close to many of the housing developments with which Richard Owens was later to be associated. The office existed at this location for almost two and a half years until it was relocated to 2 Breck Road, Everton, in the winter of 1866.where it remained for about fifteen years. In 1882 the practice next moved into part of Westminster Chambers, Dale Street. This city-centre block comprising offices, shops and warehousing had been designed by Richard Owens for the firm of David Roberts, Son and Company, and had been completed in 1881. Westminster Chambers was to become the established home of the business for the next eighty-eight years, until the practice of Richard Owens and Son was taken over by H. A. Noel Woodall, architect, in January 1969.

Richard Owens was one of the most prolific chapel architects in Wales and the favoured late-19th century architect of the Calvinistic Methodists: the only one of the Nonconformist denominations that is indigenous to Wales and without equivalent in England.  He designed some 250-300 chapels, mostly in north Wales.  Thirty-five were built in the 1860s, twenty-five of which were for the Calvinistic Methodist denomination of which he was a member.  He designed no less than 165 chapels in the 1870s, of which 90 were for the Calvinistic Methodists and another 38 are recorded for the 1880s when his reputation was fully established.  His first design was for the Welsh Calvinist congregation in his home village of Y Ffôr in 1861-62. By 1864 his first major commission, the Welsh Presbyterian Chapel in (Fitz-) Clarence Street, Everton, was under construction.

It was while working on the design of Capel Mynydd Seion, Abergele in 1867 that he first met David Roberts of David Roberts and Company, Liverpool. In collaboration with David Roberts, Owens was responsible for building over 10,000 terraced houses in the city of Liverpool, particularly those in the Toxteth area known as The Welsh Streets as many of the streets were named after Welsh towns and villages. Ringo Starr was born in one of the Welsh Streets, 9 Madryn Street and attended school on Pengwern Street. On the 13th July 1978 H A Noel Woodall deposited an extensive collection of documentation which had survived from the earliest days of the practice, in the Merseyside Record Office. The sequence of correspondence contained therein shows the extent to which Richard Owens contributed to the expansion of Liverpool and its suburbs during this early period, during which large tracts of land were developed for workers housing by the Welsh ex-patriot community.

On 6 July 1858 he married Margaret Roberts, daughter of Hugh Roberts, Llanfairfechan, at Great Homer Street Chapel, Liverpool. They had one son, Hugh, who trained as an architect and who was taken into partnership by his father in 1882, together with five daughters - Catherine, Anne, Jane, Elizabeth and Margaret Owen. Hugh, Catherine, Anne and Jane never married. Elizabeth married Dr W. Vaughan Roberts of Ffestiniog in 1890; Margaret married Archibald MacFarlane Stewart in 1904 and was living in Alresford, Hampshire in 1911.

 Richard Owens died on 24 December 1891 at his home, 'Rhianfa', Anfield Road, Liverpool from gallstones, and was interred at Anfield Cemetery. His practice was continued by his son, Hugh Owen.

Address
1864-1866    14, Everton Village, Everton, Liverpool
1866-1882    Breck Street
1882-1910    Westminster Chambers, Dale Street, Liverpool

Residence
1871        65 Aubrey Street, Liverpool
1891        'Rhianfa', Anfield Road, Liverpool

Obituary      Carnarvon and Denbigh Herald 1 January 1892 page 6
Reference    The Welsh Builder on Merseyside: Annals and Lives. Liverpool: J R Jones. 1946, pages 97-98
Reference    www.welsh chapels.org
Reference    Capel: The Chapels Society Newsletter No 38 Autumn 2001 page 4-9
Reference    Dr Gareth Carr: The Welsh Builder in Liverpool

 

Buildings and Designs

Building Name District Town/City County Country
Calvinistic Chapel and Schools Heywood Street Cheetham Manchester Cheetham  Manchester  GMCA  England
former Welsh Calvinist Chapel, Y Ffôr (Four Crosses). Y Ffôr (Four Crosses).      Wales
Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Clarence Street, Everton, Liverpool Everton  Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Former Independent Chapel, High Street, Bethesda, Gwynedd   Bethesda  Gwynedd  Wales
Layout; Campfield Estate, Liverpool   Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Engedi chapel, New Street, Caernarfon   Caernarfon  Gwynedd  Wales
Welsh Baptist Chapel, Water Street, Rhyl   Rhyl  Clwyd  Wales
Welsh Calvanistic Methodist Chapel, Sarnau, Bala Sarnau  Bala    Wales
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Dinmael near Corwen Dinmael  Corwen  Gwynedd  Wales
Baptist Chapel Great Crosshall Street Liverpool Everton  Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Llandderfel Llandderfel  near Bala  Merionethshire  Wales
Mynydd Seion (Welsh Presbyterian) Chapel, Abergele   Abergele  Conwy County Borough, Clwyd  Wales
Bethesda Independent Chapel,Manod Road, Blaenau Ffestiniog,   Blaenau Ffestiniog  Merionethshire (Gwynedd)  Wales
New Chapel, Pennal, near Machynlleth Pennal  near Machynlleth    Wales
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel Maes y Glyn Glyndyfrdwy Glyndyfrdwy  near Corwen    Wales
Tal y Bont Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Rhyd uchaf, Bala Rhyd uchaf  near Bala    Wales
Hill’s Lane Presbyterian Chapel, Shrewsbury   Shrewsbury  Shropshire  England
English Baptist Chapel, Alfred Place, Aberystwyth   Aberystwyth  Cardiganshire  Wales
English Presbyterian, or Calvinistic Chapel, Bath Street, Aberystwyth   Aberystwyth  Cardiganshire  Wales
Bathafarn Wesleyan Methodist Chapel, Market Street, Ruthin   Ruthin  Clwyd  Wales
Restoration: Chapel, Great Mersey Street, Liverpool   Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Pentre Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Pentre, Llanrhaeadr Denbighshire Pentre, Llanrhaeadr    Denbighshire (Powys)  Wales
Congregational Chapel, Carneddi Road, Bethesda   Bethesda    Wales
Bethel Chapel (Welsh Calvinistic Methodist), Neptune Road, Tywyn       Wales
Baptist Chapel, Castle Street, Llangollen   Llangollen    Wales
Alterations and Additions: Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Rhiw-bwys, Llanrhystid     Cardiganshire  Wales
Bethesda Chapel (Welsh Calvinistic Methodist) and Schoolroom, Bethesda Street, Amlwch   Amlwch  Anglesey  Wales
British School, Ffynnongroyw, Flintshire Ffynnongroyw  near Prestatyn  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Ebenezer Calvinistic Methodist Chapel Soughton/Sychdyn, near Mold. Soughton/ Sychdyn  near Mold  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Ffrith/ Y Ffridd, Mold. Ffrith/ Y Ffridd  Mold  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Froncysyllte Froncysyllte    Wrexham County Borough  Wales
Welsh Presbyterian Chapel, St John’s Street Hanley   Hanley  Staffordshire  England
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Rhydlydan, Pentrefoelas Rhydlydan  Pentrefoelas  Denbighshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Additions and Alterations: Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Rhiwbwys, Llanrhystid Rhiwbwys  Llanrhystid  Cardiganshire  Wales
Hill Street English Presbyterian Church, Rhosllanerchrugog Rhosllanerchrugog  Wrexham  Clwyd  Wales
Alterations: Bethania Chapel, Llanon, Cardiganshire. Llanon    Cardiganshire  Wales
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel (1), Llanidloes   Llanidloes    Wales
Salem Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Llandeilo   Llandilo  Carmarthenshire  Wales
Presbyterian Chapel, Flint   Flint  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Calvinistic Chapel Corwen   Corwen    wales
Calvinistic Chapel Lampeter   Lampeter  Cardiganshire  Wales
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Ffynnongroyw. Ffynnongroyw.  near Prestatyn  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Presbyterian Chapel Llanidloes   Llanidloes    Wales
Manledd (Welsh Calvinistic Methodist) Chapel near Llanidloes Manledd  near Llandiloes    Wales
Salem Methodist Chapel Llandiloes   Llanidloes    Wales
Llanidloes English Baptist Church, Short Bridge Street, Llanidloes (Zion)   Llanidloes    Wales
Heol China Chapel (Welsh Calvinistic Methodist), China Street, Llanidloes   Llanidloes  Montgomeryshire (Powys)  Wales
Oakley Park Chapel (English Presbyterian/Calvinistic Methodist), Oakley Park, near Llanidloes Oakley Park  near Llandiloes  Montgomeryshire (Powys)  Wales
English Methodist Church (Wesleyan), Long Bridge Street, Llanidloes   Llanidloes  Montgomeryshire (Powys)  Wales
Caersws Chapel (English Presbyterian/Calvinistic Methodist), Caersws Caersws    Montgomeryshire (Powys)  Wales
Salem Calvinistic Chapel,. Penmachno Penmachno  near Betws-y-Coed  Clwyd  Wales
Glanaber Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Llanuwchlyn Llanuwchlyn  near Bala  Gwynedd  Wales
Chapel and Chapel-House. Bryneglwys, near Corwen Bryneglwys  near Corwen    Wales
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Llanfair Caereinion Llanfair Caereinion      Wales
Hill Street Presbyterian Sunday Schoolroom and Vestries, Wrexham   Wrexham  Clwyd  Wales
Restoration and Enlargement: Calvinistic Methodist Chapel Llangollen   Llangollen    Wales
Calvinistic Chapel, Llandovery   Llandovery  Carmarthenshire  Wales
Seion Welsh Independent Chapel, Meifod Montgomeryshire Powys Meifod    Montgomeryshire (Powys)  Wales
Horeb Wesleyan Methodist Chapel (Brithdir), Rhos-Y-Brithdir Rhos-Y-Brithdir    Montgomeryshire (Powys)  Wales
Peniel CM Chapel Portland Street Southport   Southport  Merseyside  England
Tabernacle Presbyterian Chapel, Hay   Hay    Wales
Presbyterian Chapel (Calvinistic Methodist), Chester Road, Pentre Ffwrndan, Flint Pentre Ffwrndan  Flint  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Cemaes, Montgomeryshire   Camaes  Montgomeryshire (Powys)  Wales
Congregational Chapel, Baker Street Aberystwyth   Aberystwyth  Cardiganshire  Wales
Former Nonconformist School, East Street, Llangollen   Llangollen  Denbighshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Calvanistic Methodist Chapel Lampeter   Lampeter    Wales
Additions and Alterations: Calvinistic Chapel, Abererch Abererch  near Pwllheli  Gwynedd  Wales
Calvinistic Chapel Edeyrn Edeyrn    Gwynedd  Wales
Tabernacle (Primitive Methodist) Chapel, Padeswood Road, Buckley Buckley  near Mold  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Bethel Welsh Calvinistic Chapel, Mold Road, Buckley Buckley  near Mold  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Seion Baptist Chapel Bousfield Street, Kirkdale, Liverpool Kirkdale  Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Renovation: Capel Moriah, South Penrallt, Caernarfon   Caernarfon  Gwynedd  Wales
Nercwys Welsh Calvinstic Methodist Chapel, Nercwys, near Mold, Flintshire Nercwys  near Mold  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
New Premises for Bala Banking Company, Bala   Bala  Merionethshire (Gwynedd)  Wales
Wesleyan Chapel, Trinity Road, Bootle, Liverpool Bootle  Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Wesleyan Chapel, Claughton Road, Birkenhead   Birkenhead  Wirral  England
Independent Chapel Clifton Road Birkenhead   Birkenhead  Wirral  England
Shaw Street English Presbyterian Church, Everton Brow, Liverpool   Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Bethel Chapel (Welsh Calvinistic Methodist), New Road, Newtown   Newtown  Montgomeryshire (Powys)  Wales
Tabernacl Chapel (Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Tabernacle), Goat Street, St David's   St David's  Pembrokeshire  Wales
Welsh Wesleyan Chapel 12 Heald Street Garston Garston  Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Post Office, Chapel Street, Caernarfon   Caernarfon  Gwynedd  Wales
Maesydref Independent Chapel, Clwt-y-bont, Deiniolen, Llanberis Clwt-y-bont, Deiniolen  Llanberis  Gwynedd  Wales
Libanus Welsh Baptist Church, Clwt-y-bont, Deiniolen, Llanberis Clwt-y-bont, Deiniolen  Llanberis  Gwynedd  Wales
Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Trefnant, Near Denbigh Trefnant  near Denbigh  Denbighshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Crescent English Presbyterian Church, Milford Road./ Crescent Road., Penyglodfa, Newtown Penyglodfa  Newtown    Wales
Internal Alterations, Pendref Welsh Calvinistic Chapel, Mold   Mold  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
English Presbyterian Church, Marine Road, Pensarn, Abergele Pensarn  Abergele    Wales
Calvinistic Chapel Flint   Flint  Flintshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Alterations: George Inn, Caernarfon   Caernarfon  Gwynedd  Wales
Welsh Presbyterian Church David Street, Liverpool   Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Nazareth Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Nazareth, Penrhyndeudraeth Nazareth  Penrhyndeudraeth  Gwynedd  Wales
Welsh Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Denbigh   Denbigh  Denbighshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Sion Welsh Baptist Church; (Capel Zion), Llanfyllin, Montgomeryshire   Llanfyllin  Montgomeryshire (Powys)  Wales
Restoration: Peniel Chapel, Festiniog   Ffestiniog  Gwynedd  Wales
Tabernacl Calvinistic Methodist Chapel, Powell Street, Aberystwyth   Aberystwyth  Cardiganshire  Wales
Glyndyfrdwy Chapel (Welsh Calvinistic Methodist; Eglwys Y Glyn), Glyndyfrdwy Glyndyfrdwy  Corwen  Denbighshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Capel Seion 92 Hellan Street Denbigh   Denbigh  Denbighshire (Clwyd)  Wales
Ebenezer Welsh Independent Chapel, Trefriw Trefriw    Conwy County Borough, Clwyd  Wales
Capel Horeb, Nant Bwlch Yr Haearn, near Llanrwst. Nant Bwlch Yr Haearn  Trefriw  Conwy County Borough, Clwyd  Wales
Salem Calvinistic Methodist Chapel Capel-y-Rhos near Llandrillo Capel-y-Rhos  near Llandrillo    Wales
Capel Isaf, Calvinistic Chapel, Strydd Y Ffynnon, Nefyn   Nefyn  Gwynedd  Wales
Welsh Presbyterian Chapel, David Street, Liverpool   Liverpool  Merseyside  England
Primitive Methodist Chapel, Princes Road, Liverpool   Liverpool  Merseyside  England

Partnerships

Name Designation Formed Dissolved Location
Owens, Richard and Son Architectural practice 1882 1974 Liverpool