Thomas H Mawson:
An article in the Lancashire Life magazine at the turn of the 21st century described the work of the landscape architect Thomas H Mawson as “unpretentious but substantial”. It is a description that would appear to serve as an appropriate summary of the man.
Mawson appears to have been far more driven by a need to work than a need for formal recognition. Even when his third son James was killed on the Western Front in 1915, Mawson’s way of coping seems to have been to throw himself into an ambitious new scheme – one that would culminate in the publication of An Imperial Obligation, the book that would create the blueprint for Westfield War Memorial Village (see picture below from book).
Born at Scorton in 1861, six years’ later the family moved to Lancaster. At the age of 12 Thomas studied design and drawing and, two years later, entered the design department at local firm Gillows. However, his mother uprooted the family – three boys and a girl – to London following the sudden death of her husband. Thomas was sent in advance, with just 20 shillings and his train fair. He not only found a job for himself but within three months had also found employment for his siblings.
In 1884 Thomas married Anna Prentice and while on honeymoon in the Lake District he decided to uproot the whole family and set up a landscaping practice back in Lancaster. A mixture of hard work, talent and ambition, was to result in commissions for large garden and park landscaping projects as well as town planning schemes across Britain, Europe, Canada and America. Many of the crowned heads of Europe were among his clients.