Wakerley, Arthur

WM local preacher, temperance advocate and architect, born on 15 May 1862 in Melton Mowbray, the brother of <strong>John E. Wakerley</strong> (1858-1923;e.m. 1882) and of his fellow architect Joseph Edmund Wakerley (b.1874). He was articled at 16 to James Bird, a Leicester architect, and went into practice there 1884. He was President of the Leicester Society of Architects.

In 1886 he was elected to the town council as a Liberal and was Mayor of Leicester in 1897, the youngest ever to hold that office. In both the General Elections of 1895 and 1900 he stood unsuccessfully for the Liberals in the Melton Mowbray Division.

On the Leicester Council he advocated improved housing standards, especially for working-class homes. In 1885 began purchasing land in North Evington, to the east of the town, which he continued to develop as a self-contained suburb, including factories, until the Great War. To serve the area he gave Wesley Hall, opened in 1897. As Chairman of the Highways & Town Planning Committee he was in a powerful position to get his plans approved, including widening some of the streets. A number of his buildings are featured in the 'Wakerley Trail' published by the City Council.

He was also the architect of a number of religious buildings in Leicester, notably Belgrave W.M. Hall, Belgrave Road, 1897 (with J.E. Rattenbury as its first minister), Highfield Road Synagogue, 1897-8, and Humberstone Road Union Chapel, 1898. He also designed ancillary premises for the WM mission in St. John's Square, Clerkenwell, at the time his brother was minister there.

In 1896 he bought and restored the medieval, moated, Gedding Hall, Suffolk, where he built up a dairy herd. As lord of the manor he had the power of appointment for two Anglican livings. He sold the estate in 1914. Some of his collection of fine art and antiques passed to the Leicester Museums Service. He retired from his architectural practice in 1919 and died on 4 April 1931.

Of his six children, the eldest Gwendoline Wakerley (1887-1978) married Captain Leslie Wostenholm, son of the Rev. Henry Wostenholm (1857- 1924; em 1881), at that time minister at Bishop Street W.M., which the Wakerley family attended. Arthur John ('Jack') Wakerley M.C. (1893-1917), educated at the Leys School and a WM local preacher, initially trained as an architect, but then entered Peterhouse, Cambridge, with the intention of candidating for the WM ministry; but was killed in France in World War I. Another daughter, Constance Wakerley married an Anglican, the Rev. Frederick Redwood.

  • Jean Farquhar, Arthur Wakerley, 1862-1931 (Leicester, 1984)