Francis Johnson & Partners, Architects (U DFJ)

FJ at Craven HouseLetterhead FJ

Who are Francis Johnson & Partners, Architects?

Established by local architect Francis Johnson in 1937, the firm is based at Craven House, 16 High Street, Bridlington. They have a strong reputation for their work on historic properties in the Georgian style and have worked on some of our regions finest buildings. Sledmere House, Burton Agnes Hall, Burton Constable Hall, Maister House, Sewerby Hall  and Fairfax House can all be found in their portfolio. They have also undertaken many new builds such as The Orangery at Settrington and Strathconon House in Ross-shire. Johnson's personal and professional connections led him to receive a great number of commissions to work on ecclesiastical buildings. He was the appointed architect for many of our regions most notable churches including the minsters at Beverley and Howden, Hull Holy Trinity Church, and Bridlington Priory. The firm also has a history of undertaking commissions to work on agricultural conversions and restorations, development schemes for companies such as Barratts, and many of Bridlington's civic buildings. Johnson's attention to detail and authenticity meant that only the best would do and he often employed noted sculptors and carvers Richard Reid and Robert Thompson's Craftsmen Ltd on his projects.

What does the archive of Francis Johnson & Partners, Architects contain?

Typical file in the U DFJ collection

The collection consists mainly of files relating to over 2000 projects undertaken by the firm between 1939 and 2010. Each file relates to a specific project and there are sometimes multiple files relating to the same building. This reflects the reality of the firm being invited to undertake further projects for the same client.

The contents of the files generally include some or all of the following papers:

  • Correspondence with clients, local authority planning departments, contractors, suppliers, historic buildings associations; 
  • Applications relating to planning and listed building consent; 
  • Rough estimates, accounts, invoices, certificates, receipts; 
  • Schedules of work, specifications, bills of quantities, site meeting minutes and notes; 
  • Condition and architectural significance reports; 
  • Sketches, plan and elevation drawings prepared for planning applications, detail and section drawings, notes.

In addition to the ‘Project’ files, there are a number of ‘General’ files relating to dealings of the firm with specific societies or organisations, or on particular subjects or matters. Also within the ‘General’ files category are files containing papers relating to more than one property, for instance, where the firm has acted as the appointed architect for a particular association. The final category of files within the collection are ‘Personal’ files. These contain the correspondence, notes and miscellaneous papers relating to individual members of the firm.

How can the collection help my research?

You can use the files to undertake research into various subjects including:

  • 20th century restoration, conversion and alteration of Georgian townhouses, agricultural buildings, country houses and ecclesiastical buildings;
  • Case study of a 20th century architect’s practice;
  • Specific research into many individual properties in the East Riding and North Yorkshire;
  • 20th century new build country house designs;
  • 20th century commercial housing developments.

Is the collection available to researchers yet?
Thanks to a National Cataloguing Award of £32,729 granted to Hull University Archives and administered by The National Archives, the collection was catalogued in 2014/15 and is now available for research at the History Centre. (The award was one of 15 successful projects. For more information on the project see past postings to the History Centre blog.)

Anyone can use the collection and it is now available to search using our online catalogue. Items can be requested in advance for consultation in the search room. (See the 'Planning Your Visit' webpage)

Are there any related collections or documents?

FJ Tour Journal

During the cataloguing project a number of additional small deposits were received. This was a result of publicity surrounding the project and not part of the firm’s official records. An artificial collection reference [U DFJR] was created to catalogue these small deposits. Within this collection there is a digitised copy of a detailed illustrated tour journal relating to a European study tour made by Johnson in 1931 [U DFJR/1/1]. There is also a small notebook containing sketches by Johnson in 1926 [U DFJR/1/2] and a small tour journal relating to a trip he took to Paris in 1929 [U DFJR/1/3].

The Records of the Georgian Society for East Yorkshire [U DGS] also contains material relating to Johnson. He was a life-long member, undertook much work and many campaigns on their behalf, and was a contributor to the society’s journal.

Further related material can be found in a small deposit containing letters from Johnson to Neil Hynd, Regional Director of Historic Scotland [U DX325].