Morley family of Bradford

William James Morley (1847-1930) was a Bradford architect, born in Garforth near Leeds and educated at Leeds Grammar School. Articled to Milnes & France, he later worked for Lockwood & Mawson, becoming the manager in 1873. On the death of George Woodhouse in 1883 he took over his practice, continuing with Woodhouse's son as Morley & Woodhouse, and was the architect of Grove WM, York (1884) and Toll Gavel WM, Beverley (1891), both in an Italianate style, as well as the Gothic South Cliff, Scarborough (1886). The WM Central Hall, Oldham Street, Manchester (1883-86), although usually attributed to Woodhouse, is also by Morley. Other WM central halls that followed included Eastbrook Hall, Bradford with an octagonal hall (1903), Linacre, Liverpool (1905) and Albert Hall, Manchester (1910), a mixture of Gothic and baroque, claimed to be one of the largest at that time. Morley's chapels are predominently northern and Gothic, but not totally so; WM examples include Horsemarket,Barnard Castle and Summerbridge (both 1894). He became a fellow of the RIBA in 1892, the year in which he was President of the Bradford Architectural Society. He died at Heaton, W. Yorks., on 16 March 1930.

Of his eight children, one of his sons, Eric Morley (born 1885), joined the practice c. 1900, which then became W.J. Morley & Son. WM examples of their Gothic designs which are still in use include: Kensal Rise WM (now RC), London (1900), West Tanfield (1900-1901), Talbot Lane, Rotherham (1901), Old Elvet,Durham (1901-1903), Wilpshire (1901-1904), Chidwell Road, Beeston (1902), Milton Road, Gravesend (1905-1906), Princes Street, Llangollen (1903), Station Road, Barnes (1906). After the First World War the practice seems to have been associated more with Sunday School premises, including Greenhill WM (1928-1929) and Wesley, Dudley Hill, both in Bradford, and Menston (1931-1933). After the Second World War the practice produced Oakworth Methodist (1959-1960).

Industrial and commercial buildings by the practices included Anchor Mills (1884) and Fergulsie Thread Works (1887), both in Paisley; alterations and extensions to the Crown Hotel, Harrogate (1899); Rawdon Co-operative Society Stores (1908); and the Masonic Hall, Bradford (1925).

Another son, Francis Douglas Morley (1888-1964; e.m. 1913), born at Bradford, entered the WM ministry. He trained at Handsworth College, was mentioned in dispatches during the First World War and was an RAF chaplain from 1930 to 1952, being appointed Honorary Chaplain to the King. His son, William Peter Douglas Morley (1917-2009; e.m. 1940) was born in Knightsbridge on 7 August 1917. He too entered the ministry and was chaplain and Scout Leader at Culford School 1941-1947 before becoming assistant to J. Scott Lidgett at the Bermondsey Settlement 1947-1954. He and his father founded the Association of Methodist Scouters and Guiders and during his ministry in Scarborough (1970-1976) he became a county chaplain. He was influenced by the Billy Graham Campaign in 1950 and through the charismatic movement received the gift of tongues.

Another son, George Morley (1873-1942), born 17 November 1873, was educated at Worcester College, Oxford. Intending to become a barrister, he had a career in the police, initially in the Royal Irish Constabulary. He was successively Chief Constable of Hull (from 1910) and then of County Durham (1922), and was knighted in 1937. He died on 16 March 1942.

  • Methodist Recorder, 2 April 2009
  • Directory of British Architects 1834-1914