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Born on this day
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky
Helena Petrovna Blavatsky was a Russian-German occultist.
32nd week in year
12 August 2018

Important personalitiesBack

Joseph Aloysius Hansom26.10.1803

Wikipedia (18 Oct 2013, 11:43)

Joseph Aloysius Hansom (26 October 1803 – 29 June 1882) was a prolific English architect working principally in the Gothic Revival style. He invented the Hansom cab and founded the eminent architectural journal, The Builder, in 1843.


Hansom was born at 114 Micklegate, York (now the Brigantes pub) to a Roman Catholic family and baptised as Josephus Aloysius Handsom(e). He was the brother of the architect Charles Francis Hansom and the uncle of Edward J. Hansom. He was apprenticed to his father as a joiner, but showing an early aptitude for draughtsmanship and construction, he was permitted to transfer his apprenticeship to a local architect named Mr Philips.

About 1825 he settled in Halifax, Yorkshire, and in the same year he married Hannah Glover at St. Michael le Belfrey in York. He took a post as assistant to John Oates and there befriended Edward Welch, with whom he formed his first architectural partnership in 1828. Together they designed several churches in Yorkshire and Liverpool, and also worked on the renovation of Bodelwyddan Castle in Denbighshire and King William's College in the Isle of Man. In 1831 their designs for Birmingham Town Hall were accepted; however, the contract led to their bankruptcy, as they had stood surety for the builders. The disaster led to the dissolution of the partnership and may have contributed to Hansom becoming a radical socialist.

On 23 December 1834 he registered the design of a 'Patent Safety Cab' on the suggestion of his employer. Distinctive safety features included a suspended axle, while the larger wheels and lower position of the cab led to less wear and tear and fewer accidents. He went on to sell the patent to a company for £10,000; however, as a result of the purchaser's financial difficulties, the sum was never paid. The first Hansom Cab travelled down Hinckley's Coventry Road in 1835. The Hansom cab was improved by subsequent modifications and exported worldwide to become a ubiquitous feature of the 19th-century street scene.

In 1843 Hansom founded a new architectural journal known as The Builder, another venture which was to flourish through the century; renamed Building in 1966, it continues to this day. However, neither he nor his partner Alfred Bartholomew (1801–45) profited from the enterprise, because they were compelled to retire for lack of capital.

Between 1854 and 1879 Hansom devoted himself to architecture, designing and erecting a great number of important buildings, private and public, including numerous churches, schools and convents for the Roman Catholic Church. Buildings from his designs are to be found all over the United Kingdom, as well as in Australia and South America.

Hansom practised in a succession of architectural partnerships. From 1847 to 1852 he practised in Preston, Lancashire, working briefly in association with Augustus Welby Northmore Pugin towards the end of the latter's life. After the practice moved to London, he took his brother Charles Francis Hansom into partnership in 1854. But this partnership was dissolved in 1859 when Charles established an independent practice in Bath with his son Edward Joseph Hansom as clerk.

In 1862 Joseph Hansom formed a partnership with Edward Welby Pugin, which broke up acrimoniously in 1863. Finally (1869) he took his son Joseph Stanislaus Hansom into partnership.

Hansom moved to manage an estate at Caldecote Hall. He retired on 31 December 1879 and died at 399 Fulham Road, London, on 29 June 1882.

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