Blue plaque to commemorate ‘Concrete Cockrill’

john william cockrill

john william cockrill - Credit: Archant

A plaque to commemorate the man who designed some of Great Yarmouth's best-known buildings will be unveiled today at the Winchester Hotel.

The former Great Yarmouth School of Art close to St Georges Park which has been renovated and transf

The former Great Yarmouth School of Art close to St Georges Park which has been renovated and transformed into flats.The Old Art SchoolPicture: James Bass - Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2011

John William Cockrill was born in 1849 and died in 1924 - but not before he successfully built Gorleston Pavilion, Great Yarmouth School of Art and many other local landmarks in Yarmouth and Gorleston.

Described as one of the makers of 'modern Yarmouth' Cockrill personally, or through his pupils, also produced many designs for public buildings and development schemes.

Additionally, much of Gorleston centre was provided with drainage, street lighting and pavements under his direction. Paul Davies, chairman of Great Yarmouth Local History and Archaeological Society, said: 'Considering there are still a lot of buildings in Yarmouth that he's responsible for, we decided he deserved some recognition.

'You just have to look around to see his contribution - he was a prolific builder and architect, and after many years as the borough surveyor, has left his mark on the town.'


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In Cockrill's lifetime, Yarmouth, which had stayed much the same for centuries, saw the fishing and holiday industries expand, along with the introduction of electric power and motorised traffic.

In 1913 he was elected president of the Institution of Municipal and County Engineers, which held its annual meeting that year in Great Yarmouth, and in 1914 he was chosen as president of the Town Planning Institute.

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He was one of the foundation members and had been on its council since 1882.

During Cockrill's time as borough surveyor, slum clearance, street cleaning, better housing and an efficient sewage system became priorities in the rapidly expanding town.

He was also vice-president of Norfolk and Norwich Association of Architects and was a member of the Institute of Civil Engineers.

His one-time nickname, 'Concrete Cockrill,' came from his habit of using the material for covering streets and paths as well as using it in buildings.

His grandson, local historian Les Cockrill, along with his great grandson, Alexander Raleigh who is travelling up from Cardiff for the occasion, will unveil the blue plaque at his former home at 12, Euston Road, now Winchester Hotel, at 11.30am.

Cockrill died at the address and it is said that the entrance hall is his design.

Mr Davies said the family are keen that their ancestor should be remembered.

Ann Dunning will give a short talk about Cockrill and what his legacy means for the borough and it is hoped that the mayor will be in attendance.

The hotel owners will provide coffee and cake after the ceremony, and all are welcome, including non-society members.

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