Cubitt, Thomas

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b. 25 February 1788 Buxton, Norfolk, England
d. 20 December 1855 Dorking, Surrey, England
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English master builder and founder of the first building firm of modern type.
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He started his working life as a carpenter at a time when work in different trades such as bricklaying, masonry, carpentry and plumbing was subcontracted. The system had worked well enough until about 1800, but when large-scale development was required, as in the nineteenth century, it showed itself to be inefficient and slow. To avoid long delays in building, Cubitt bought land and established workshops, founding a firm that employed all the craftsmen necessary to the building trade on a permanent-wage basis. To keep his firm financially solvent he had to provide continuous work for his staff, which he achieved by large-scale, speculative building even while maintaining high architectural standards.
Cubitt performed a major service to London, with many of his houses, squares and terraces still surviving as sound and elegant as they were over 150 years ago in the large estates he laid out. His most ambitious enterprise was Belgravia, where he built 200 imposing houses for the aristocracy upon an area of previously swampy land that he leased from Lord Grosvenor. His houses expose as inferior much of the later phases of development which surround them. All his life Cubitt used his influence to combat the abuses of architecture, building and living standards to which speculative building is heir. He was especially interested in drainage, smoke control and London's sewage arrangement, and constantly worked to improve these. He supplied first-class amenities in the way of land drainage, sewage disposal, street lighting and roads, and his own houses were soundly built, pleasant to live in and created to last.
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Further Reading
Hermione Hobhouse, 1971, Thomas Cubitt: Master Builder, Macmillan.
Henry Russell-Hitchcock, 1976, Early Victorian Architecture, 2 vols, New York: Da Capo.
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Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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