Thomas Sandon Hack was born to Quaker parents – Stephen and Maria Hack - in Chichester on 24 December 1811. His Quaker credentials were reinforced with his marriage, on 22 October 1835, to Lydia Bigg, youngest daughter of Thomas Bigg of Albion Place, Reading, at the Friends’ Meeting House in Reading. They later moved to Gloucester, where Thomas entered into partnership with the iron merchant John Cannington Britton, the firm trading as Hack and Britton. We find the firm sending iron to Bideford through the port of Gloucester in April 1838 (Berrow’s Worcester Journal, 19 April 1838). The partnership was dissolved by mutual consent on 2 June 1841 (London Gazette, 4 June 1841) and the Hack family moved to Southampton. Their first home in Southampton was Bevois Hill House (image 1), a large residence on the west side of Portswood Road. Here Thomas set up as an architect and surveyor: a significant change in profession but foretold perhaps by a lecture he gave on Egyptian architecture at the Chichester Mechanics’ Institution on 11 April 1832 (Hampshire Telegraph, 2 April 1832: announcement).
Five major commissions can be attributed to Hack in Southampton: the Royal South Hants Infirmary, opened in August 1844; the Wesleyan Chapel in Alfred Street, Newtown commissioned by William Betts and opened in 1845 or 1846; the Royal Southern Yacht Club (images 2 and 3) on Town Quay, opened in August 1846; the rebuilding of William Jones’s carriage factory on Above Bar Street (image 4) after a disastrous fire in November 1846; and (if we accept the attribution of Albert Edward Richardson, the pioneer historian of English domestic classicism, in Architectural Review, 1919) Bowling Green House in Orchard Place, built according to Professor Richardson as a residence for himself. All – with the probable exception of Newtown Wesleyan Chapel – were in the Italianate style, the Royal Southern Yacht Club and Bowling Green House complementing each other on either side of the southern approaches to the town. The severely Italianate County Court House on Castle Lane, built 1851-3 after Hack had left Southampton, may owe something to the architect, for in 1847/8 he surveyed two sites for the building. Among smaller commissions may be identified two villas at Woolston Lawn for Messrs Westlake and Co (corn merchants and Quakers) in 1847 and two cottages with entrance gates, a considerable quantity of brick walling and alteration to the stabling at Bevois Mount in November 1844 for William Betts. This may point to a wider involvement in the extensive development for housing of Bevois Mount estate by Betts.
Hack ran into severe financial difficulties in the late 1840s.The family left Bevois Hill House in 1848 for smaller premises at 34 Bugle Street. Bankruptcy and a spell in the Queen’s debtor’s prison in Southwark followed. The furniture and effects of 34 Bugle Street were sold on 6 December 1849 and Thomas moved with his family to Bognor. It is possible that Hack was one of the many victims of the railway mania that gripped the nation in the autumn of 1845 for he was on the provisional committee of the Southampton and Great Western Railway Junction Company, floated in October 1845 to construct a line- on the broad gauge - between Bishopstoke and Swindon, thus forming an unbroken line between the south coast and south Wales and the north west (Southampton Times, 23 July 1881, page 7: Records of railway enterprise at Southampton). Like so many similar schemes it was an expensive failure.
Hack’s name is sometimes given as Thomas Sanden Hack.
- Bowling Green House
- Jones, William
- Royal South Hants Hospital
- Royal Southern Yacht Club
- Woolston House
'Thomas Sandon Hack: Architect of Southampton 1841-49', by Richard Preston. Southampton Occasional Papers no. 3
‘Architecture of Southampton’, by A. E. R. in Architectural Review, February 1919, p35. (HS/i)
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