Who's Who - Sir Herbert Baker
Sir Herbert Baker (1862-1946) was a principal English architect who spent much of his career abroad. He was responsible for designing the key Tyne Cot cemetery in the aftermath of the First World War.
Born on 9 June 1862 in Kent, Baker studied architecture in London. He embarked for South Africa in 1892 ostensibly in order to visit his brother. Much taken with the country, and notably with the Cape Dutch homes in the Cape Province, Baker resolved to remain in South Africa and to establish an architectural practice.
Following an opportune meeting with Cecil Rhodes Baker received a commission to redesign Rhodes' own house (Groote Schuur); an instant success and widely admired today the property is the present-day residence of the South African president.
Other notable designs saw Baker undertake work in areas of the country including Boksburg, Cape Town (where he designed the Anglican Cathedral), Durban, Johannesburg, Oudtshoorn and Pretoria (including the renowned railway station). Possibly his most famous construction however is the Pretoria Union Building of 1910.
Baker left South Africa in 1912 to move to India where he worked on the design of the New Delhi Secretariat Buildings, a spell during which he worked closely with fellow architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.
Following the First World War Baker was approached to assist in the design of suitable monuments to the efforts of British Commonwealth soldiers. Out of this came the design for Tyne Cot, the largest British war cemetery in the world sited in Passchendaele in Belgium, unveiled in July 1927. Baker had earlier designed the war memorial at Winchester College, influences for which he carried over to his work on Tyne Cot.
Knighted in 1926 for services to art Sir Herbert Baker was responsible for the controversial design of the reconstructed Bank of England. In 1927 he received the Royal Institute of British Architects' Royal Gold Medal for Architecture. Included among Baker's many other commissions was work for Lords cricket ground in London.
Baker died on 4 February 1946 at the age of 83. He is buried in Westminster Abbey.
A "Brass Hat" was a high ranking officer.
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