Archives & Library

Dennis Sharp Archive

Dennis Sharp (1933-2010) was an architect, designer, author and teacher. The Centre holds Sharp’s archive, which comprises material compiled in the course of his research on the architecture of Connell, Ward and Lucas. The archive is fully catalogued and available for research. This spotlight feature highlights some of the key themes that emerge from the archive and some of the treasures which it contains.

Impact of the Second World War

After only six years in practice, the Connell, Ward and Lucas practice was disbanded in September 1939 at the outbreak of the Second World War.

Each architect made their own individual contribution to the war effort: Connell, after continuing to practice independently, served in the British Army as a garrison engineer, and later for the Ministry of Works and Buildings as a war damage assessor. Ward joined the Royal Navy; and Lucas worked at the British Research Station at Princes Risborough in Buckinghamshire using his expertise in reinforced concrete.

The outbreak of war also affected ongoing building projects. For example, work on the designs for the Edith Edwards Preventorium, intended for Tuberculosis sufferers and led by Mrs R. G. Edwards, was suspended and never taken up again.

Buildings designed by Connell, Ward and Lucas did not escape the air raids. For example, 42 and 44 Sinah Lane, two holiday homes designed by Connell, Ward and Lucas on Hayling Island in Hampshire, received bomb damage when the island was used as a decoy target for enemy fire in order to protect nearby Portsmouth and Portsea Island.

The hostilities also meant that some owners, who had often fought lengthy planning battles, only spent a few months in their new homes before they were displaced. Philip Proudman, of 26 Bessborough Road in Roehampton, volunteered for the army in 1939, and the property was used to house young evacuees for the duration of the war. Geoffrey Walford of 66 Frognal in Hampstead (above), was forced to evacuate the property in 1939, over concerns about the effect of bombing on the extensive glazing in the house. He never returned and sold the property, at a loss, in 1943.

Some of the Connell, Ward and Lucas buildings played their own part in the war effort. Shepperton Studios in Surrey were requisitioned by the Ministry of Defence after the nearby Vickers-Armstrong aircraft factory was bombed, whilst studio staff were involved in building decoy airfields, military bases and residential areas across the country.

Black and white photograph of figure in a half built room

Connell, Ward & Lucas, Shepperton Sound Studios, interior during construction, 1936

Meanwhile, 66 Frognal was requisitioned by the London County Council (LCC) to be used as a fire alarm station. The railings of the house were also salvaged by the Ministry of Works and Buildings.

By the end of the war, the buildings of the Connell, Ward and Lucas practice remained intact, although some had been damaged. However, the three architects behind these designs never reconvened. They would not be reunited again until a forum at the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) in 1976.

Related records in the Dennis Sharp Archive

Record Reference
Connel's work for the Ministry of Works and Buildings DCS/2/2/1
Edith Edwards Preventorium DCS/2/7/13
42 and 44 Sinah Lane DCS/2/6/12
26 Bessborough Road DCS/2/7/27
66 Frognal and the papers of Geoffrey Walford, including documents relating to war-time damage and militrary requisition DCS/2/7/17
Shepperton Studios DCS/2/7/6
Connell, Ward and Lucas at the 1976 RIBA forum DCS/2/2/3