Frederick William Hobill Lee (about 1876 to 1954, aged 78) was the son of Frederick W Lee, a local builder of No 18 Clarendon Avenue. He was active as an architect in Leamington Spa from around 1898 to 1954 in a partnership with Harry Quick which was simply known as Quick & Lee. The other partner, Harry Quick, was mainly active in the Coventry area. At various times their offices were at No 38 Parade and No 11 Waterloo Place. Lee’s full name includes the surname of his mother who was christened Mary Hobill. Frederick W H Lee lived at Ashow for many years before his death on 24th January 1954.
One of Frederick’s early commissions was when he designed houses in Northumberland Road in 1898 for W H Hudson and his father was the builder. It is likely that he designed several other developments which were built by his father. He designed the ‘Highfield Refreshment’ beer-house near Highfield Terrace in 1901, made improvements around the bandstand in the Pump Room Gardens in 1908 and extensions to the Pump Room itself in 1910. He designed the new printing works for the Leamington Courier in 1921 at the corner of Portland Road and Bedford Street. This had been the site of a carriage works and is St Peter’s Car Park in 2021. He also designed the memorial clock tower in the Jephson Gardens which was erected in 1925 in memory of Councillor William Davis, who had been Mayor of the town for three years from 1900 to 1902.
He went on to design several extensions of the Burgis and Colbourne’s store (Bedford Stores) on the Parade and Bedford Street from 1924 to 1929 including the extended façade on the Parade in 1925. We will see later that he had a close relationship with Burgis & Colbourne’s.
In 1927 Frederick designed the Sunday School and Institute Hall next to, and north of, the Wesleyan or Methodist Church in Dale Street; this building was retained when the church itself was demolished and replaced around 1970. In 1928 he was responsible for alterations to the Porter’s Lodge at the Town Hall.
From 1927 to 1932 he was engaged as the Architect to design the new homes for people displaced by the Slum Clearance Company; these were built in Cubbington Road (The Holt), Tachbrook Road and Windmill Road; there were initially 52 houses in Windmill Road. They were built and managed following the principles espoused by Octavia Hill. Octavia’s views formed the basis of social policy for the poor at a time when there was little consideration for them. She began by managing three houses purchased by John Ruskin in 1864 and over time developed an urban community based on three streets in a slum area of London, previously known as ‘Little Hell’. Management of the houses in Leamington was taken over from the company by the borough council in 1937.
In 1931 Lee designed a house in the upper part of Arlington Avenue opposite Riplingham. He went on to design the interior of the building which had been the Roman Catholic church in George Street when it was converted to the Mission Boys’ Club in 1932. He also designed the pavilion for Gulliman’s golf club in Tachbrook Road in the same year. In 1934 he extended the glove factory of Oswald Glove & Co at No 27 Augusta Place to accommodate an increase in staff from about 60 to over 100 people; this was one of several glove factories in the town. In 1936 he transformed the interior of Woodward’s store on the Parade and he designed extensions to Beauchamp Hall for Kingsley School in Beauchamp Avenue.
He was also responsible for designing the offices for the Leamington Building Society in Euston Place in 1937. In 1939 he replaced the four houses on the north-east corner of High Street and Lower Avenue (later demolished) and in 1940 he designed the new ‘Sun in Splendour’ public house in Tachbrook Road (also now demolished and replaced by Sayer Court). In 1953, just before his death, he did yet more work on updating the Stores of Burgis & Colbourne.
In conclusion it is important to note that being “only” an architect was not enough for this Mr Lee. In 1909 he became a long-term member of Warwick Rural District Council and was chairman of this council in 1933; in 1932 he became the chairman of the board of directors of the Burgis and Colbourne department store. He was also a member Leamington Borough Council by 1933, representing Milverton and Lillington, and he was a magistrate and chairman of the bench for some years. In honour of his public service, a street on the Shrubland estate was named Lee Road after him.
Thanks to Janet Ainley
Uncredited photos are by the author
Mick Jeffs, February 2021