Hale, William John

  • Sheffield architect. He came of manufacturing stock on his father's side and missionary stock on his mother's. He was educated at Wesley College, Sheffield and articled to the Congregationalist C.J. Innocent, who specialized in school buildings.

He had his own practice from 1892. In his most active periods, 1896-1909 and 1924-29 he designed a number of WM churches, his work reflecting his interests and connections. His schools, like those of C.J. Innocent, were sturdy and well planned, their Arts and Crafts accent tending daringly towards art nouveau, with more than a touch of Glasgow's 'spook school' about their ironwork. Similar touches marked his churches. The largest was Sheffield's Victoria Hall (1908), taken over from W.A. Waddington, in which some 'Glaswegian' ceramic tiles and stained glass survive. His most distinctive churches, Wesley Hall, Crookes (1908) and Crookes Congregational (1906) were generous octagons, excelling in their functional organization of space. His later work, notably Banner Cross UM (1929) shows him on the verge of an elegantly severe transition from Arts and Crafts to Art Deco. His practice was confined to Sheffield, but his work added unexpected distinction to its suburban townscapes. His intelligent professionalism was reflected in his term as President of the Sheffield Society of Architects and Surveyors (1909-1911) and his support for the University's new Architectural Department (1908).

He was a trustee and Sunday School secretary at Wesley Church, Fulwood, and a circuit steward. He was related to the Fordham family, which included a cousin, William Henry Fordham (1860-1918), a Sheffield GP and Tory city Councillor, and WM missionaries in Fiji and China, and he and his daughter married into two other influential WM families, the Toothills and the Coles.

  • N.D. Wilson in Miscellany 1 (The Chapels Society, 1998) pp.51-73
  • Directory of British Architects 1834-1914


Entry written by: CB
Category: Person
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