THE influential architect behind the design of numerous Brighton and Hove public buildings will be honoured with a plaque.

Thomas Simpson designed more than a dozen city schools as well as a number of churches and other religious buildings.

Planning permission for a blue plaque to be placed on his Connaught Road School was submitted to Brighton and Hove City Council last week. Campaigners hope to unveil the memorial by the end of the year.

Ninka Willcock, from the Brighton Society, said: “He is often overlooked in favour of his more famous son, Sir John William Simpson, but his influence in Brighton and Hove is quite incredible really.

“His name is perhaps not widely known but he had a real influence on so many buildings in the city.

“I’m delighted there will be a blue plaque in his memory. He was an incredible man.”

Mr Simpson was born in Scotland in 1825 and trained as an architect. He travelled to Germany and Italy for research before settling in Brighton. In particular he took note of the approach the Germans took to mass education and architecture, which influenced much of his work.

In Brighton he set up his office at 16 Ship Street, where he was based for the rest of his life.

In 1871 he was appointed architect and surveyor to the Brighton School Board and held the same position at the Hove School Board from 1876.

Over the next 33 years he designed a series of board schools to facilitate the roll out of education for all.

His buildings include Preston Road Board Schools (1980), now part of City College, Finsbury Road Board Schools (1881) now apartments, Connaught Road Board Schools (1884), now part of West Hove Infant School, and Ditchling Road Board Schools (1890), now Downs Junior School.

He is also behind York Place Higher Grade Schools (1884), now part of City College, Central National Infants’ School, Upper Gardner Street (1887), now apartments and Belgrave Street Congregational Chapel and School (1862), now apartments.

Mr Simpson is also behind religious buildings like Belgrave Street Chapel which was part of Brighton Technical College after its closure in 1942, and the former Dials Congregational Church, which was demolished in 1972.

The plaque has been funded by the Brighton Society, Hove Civic Society and the Brighton and Hove Heritage Commission and is set to be unveiled by a relative of Mr Simpson.

Ninka Willcock is appealing for descendants of Mr Simpson to come forward, in particular descendants of Arthur Lloyd-Taylor (1898–1976), a grandson of Thomas Simpson.

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