Thomas Baldwin

Thomas Baldwin (c.1750-1820) made his whole career in Bath, where, in the wake of John Wood father and son, he designed both public buildings and whole streets.

GIF - 27 kb
Great Pump Room
[click on the picture to enlarge it]

After setting up as a contractor, he had his plans for the new Guildhall adopted by the City Council in 1776. It is a sumptuous building, more indebted to the neoclassicism of the Adam brothers than to the Palladianism of the Woods. In the same year, when Baldwin was appointed architect and surveyor to the city of Bath, he lavishly embellished its various ‘baths’ : Cross Bath, King’s Bath, New Private Baths. In 1790 he redesigned the room known as the ‘Great Pump Room’ which was the main meeting place of the fashionable society.

In conjunction with his duties as the city architect, Baldwin was a gifted town-planner. An ‘Act for the Improvement of the City of Bath’ was passed by Parliament in 1789, which allowed Baldwin to open new streets such as Bath Street, one of his best achievements (1791). Further, Baldwin directed the initial stages of the city’s extension on the Bathwick grounds across the river Avon, as a continuation to Pulteney Bridge designed by Robert Adam in 1770. In association with other contractors, Baldwin could thus erect elegant developments there, especially Laura Place, Great Pulteney Street and Sydney Place.

GIF - 39.6 kb
Great Pulteney Street
[click on the picture to enlarge it]

Carried away by success, Baldwin planned to publish engravings of his major buildings as early as 1788. But his activities as an official architect and town-planner were brutally brought to a stop in 1792, when he was accused of embezzlement by the City Council and proved unable to justify his accounts. Moreover, in 1793, the failure of two financial institutions funding the Bathwick development drove Baldwin into bankruptcy. He nonetheless later pursued a long career as a private architect in Bath.

 

  • ISON, Walter. The Georgian Buildings of Bath. London: Faber & Faber, 1948.
  • ROOT, Jane. Thomas Baldwin: His Public Career in Bath, Bath History, 1994.

Navigation