Robert Owen and the Architect Joseph Hansom

Penelope Harris


SKU: 9781858587172 Categories: , ,

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Robert Owen was a charismatic pipe-dreamer, bound to unrealistic expectations. Though born in Newtown, Montgomeryshire, by the time he met Joseph Hansom in Birmingham, he had become a self-taught manager of successful cotton mills in Manchester and New Lanark, Scotland. It was here that he developed his theories on early education and campaigned for factory reform. Lacking the support he needed to advance his plans, he purchased a community in America, only to loose all his money. The much younger Hansom was an ambitious architect, who fast-tracked his own career by winning the competition to design Birmingham Town Hall. Birmingham was a proactive town, open to Thomas Attwood’s efforts to bring about the Great Reform Bill, and the advancement of newly-formed trade unions. Along with his partner, Edward Welch, Hansom became so involved in politics that his attention was diverted away from the Town Hall, which resulted in both their bankruptcies. Nevertheless Hansom re-established his career, while Owen strove to develop his master ‘Plan’, the building of a self-sufficient community. He leased a property in a remote part of Hampshire and appointed Hansom. Despite Herculean efforts (as Hansom described the Town Hall), the community collapsed. Under new ownership, it became home to the most prestigious scientists in Britain.

Dr Harris is an authority on Hansom and the development of the architectural profession in the early nineteenth-century. She is an active member of the Victorian Society and Education Officer of the Robert Owen Museum.

“the inclusion of Birmingham and Hansom add a new dimension to the complexities of Robert Owen’s life ... a great bit of research ... should grace the shelves of any museum or library where his name rests”. Charles Rex Shayler, chairman of the Robert Owen Museum and relative of the architect who designed the building in which it is now housed.

Additional information

Weight 382 g
Dimensions 239 × 171 × 13 mm





Brewin Books




Harris, Penelope