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Charles Henry Driver

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Charles Henry Driver FRIBA (23 March 1832 – 27 October 1900) was a significant British architect of the Victorian era, with a reputation for pioneering use of ornamental iron work for which he was seen as a leading authority. He was also an expert in its casting and manufacture. Driver began his career as a draughtsman in the office of Frank Foster, Engineer to the Commissioners of Sewers, in London. In 1852, he was employed by Liddell and Gordon as a draughtsman, and he completed designs for bridges and stations for the Midland Railway on their Leicester and Hitchin Railway.

Starting in 1857, he worked under Robert Jacomb-Hood in the Engineer's Office of the London, Brighton and South Coast Railway including work on designs for their London Bridge terminus. In 1866, he created designs for the Three Bridges to Tunbridge Wells Central Line stations. In 1867, he designed for Box Hill & Westhumble railway station on the new Leatherhead to Dorking line. In 1862, he designed a drinking fountain in Kennington Park. In 1863, he submitted designs for Saint Fin Barre's Cathedral in Cork and although his design was admired, he lost out to William Burges.

After 1864, he assisted civil engineer Sir Joseph Bazalgette with designs for the landing stages and masonry of the Thames Embankment, and for the pumping stations at Abbey Mills and Crossness. These innovative facilities reduced diseases, such as deadly cholera epidemics, by moving raw sewage and polluted effluent downstream of London for discharge into the Thames.

In 1869, he began work for the Crystal Palace company designing and building the Aquarium, Orangery, and repairing the Water Towers. He also pioneered the use of ornamental tile work in industrial interiors. Based on the success of the Crystal Palace Aquarium, Driver won a contract in 1872 with the Council of the Vienna Exhibition to design a permanent aquarium in Vienna. In 1872, Driver completed the Horton Infirmary at Banbury in Oxfordshire. Beginning in 1873, he worked with Sir James Brunlees and Alexander McKerrow on designs for King's Lynn Bridge, Clifton and other stations. He also worked on piers for Llandudno, Nice, and Southend-on-Sea. Starting in 1882, he assisted Sir Douglas Fox and Francis Fox with designs for Preston Fishergate Hill railway station and for Southport railway station and others on the Cheshire lines extension.

From 1888, he worked with Edward Woods in preparing designs for Mercado Central de Santiago, and for stations on the Buenos Aires and Ensenada Port Railway. From 1894 to 1895, he was on the design teams for stations on the Tottenham and Forest Gate Railway. He designed the West Pier Pavilion at Brighton, and was the architect for the stations (including the "Station of Light" in São Paulo, Brazil) on the São Paulo Railway. He was also responsible for Dorking Town Hall, Dorking Waterworks, Dorking Union, and many shops and residences in Dorking; Banbury Hospital; the late Sir Tatton Sykes and Ellesmere Memorials; and the Mark Masons’ Hall in Great Queen Street. He also enjoyed painting oils and water colours, some of which survive today.

He died on 27 October 1900 and is buried in West Norwood Cemetery. He left an estate of about one million pounds, a massive sum for the year 1900.

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Bostjan, September 12th, 2020