Research can be a tricky business. The internet offers the researcher plenty of opportunities to find pictures, archived material and other useful records… but it can also throw up its own new set of new mysteries.
For instance, the top returned result in a Google search for L.G. Summers, Watson Fothergill’s assistant and the man who carried on working at the George Street office after Fothergill retired, is a page at the Watson Fothergill website* that hasn’t been updated in a while. There’s lots of tantalising nuggets of information there, but to the researcher looking to dig deeper there is a frustrating lack of citations and references to sources.
I’ve been looking for more information on Summers, looking for more about the man who seems to have been somewhat in the professional shadow of the more flamboyant Fothergill.
As I become more emersed in searching for all things to do with Nottingham architecture, I find myself running names through different search engines and websites. After finding a coffee cup that seems to be from The Black Boy Hotel on eBay (see previous blogpost) I check back from time to time to see what else might be out there. A while ago, a search for Lawrence G. Summers and a few variations on his name, threw up a link to some pictures that I hadn’t seen before. They were prints that were for sale and eventually I tracked them down to an online print gallery.
Further variations on Summers’ name (L.G., Lawrence C. etc) returned more results and I couldn’t quite believe my luck. Compelled by curiosity and reasonable prices, I bought the prints. It turns out that they are lithograph pages from the trade publication The Building News and they are not copies.
On receipt of the lithographs I realised they were actually pages from the magazine and I was able to look up the accompanying articles. Archives of some of the issues are online. It turns out the designs were Summers’ winning entries in competitions.
Tracing the lithographs to the relevent issues of The Building News in online archives reveals that Summers won the “National Silver Medal Prize” for his Church design, “The highest award in the kingdom”.
The town hall, also gained the Silver Medal in a prize from Kensington (from where architecture qualifications were dispensed). This appears to have been while Summers was a student at the Nottingham School of Art.
Excited about my finds, I did another search and discovered that the other lithograph in the set had been bought by someone (who I found on Twitter) who I think works at Nottingham Trent University, (perhaps even in the Nottingham School of Art building.)
More on Summers in the next blog…
Meanwhile I treated myself to having the lithographs framed:
*If this is your site, please get in touch!