Thomas Cubitt

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Cubitt, Thomas (1788–1855). English master-carpenter. He entered into partnership with his brother William (1791–1863) in c.1814, and in 1815 set up a building establishment that would encompass all the trades. He engaged in speculative developments on a huge scale in London. Later, from 1824, he built large parts of the Bedford Estate, Bloomsbury, all to an excellent standard of workmanship, and all designed ‘in-house’, largely by his brother, Lewis Cubitt. He developed huge tracts of Belgravia and Pimlico, and much of Kemp Town, Brighton. He also erected several large, substantial, and well-built houses to his own designs. These buildings were sub-Palladian or Italianate, and the most celebrated is Osborne House, IoW (1845–8), to which Prince Albert also contributed. Cubitt was active in promoting public hygiene, public parks, better building regulations, and smoke abatement.


Colvin (1995);
Hobhouse (1995);
Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2004);
Summerson (ed.) (1993)

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Cubitt, Thomas (1788–1855). Builder. Son of a Norfolk carpenter removed to London, Cubitt set up as master carpenter but abandoned traditional practices of subcontracting by employing his own tradesmen, ensuring their continuous employment and considerate for their welfare. After the London Institution (1815) he moved into speculative building, progressing from Highbury villas to Bloomsbury and Belgravia. Active during one of London's great eras of development, and described as ‘the Emperor of the building Trade’, he appeared before select committees concerned with ‘Metropolitan Improvements’, advised in town-planning and house-building, was concerned with sewage and smoke nuisance, Battersea Park and the embankment, but was never officially honoured. Cubitt's business acumen and benevolent autocracy led to great wealth, but he was generous to his family and employees; according to Queen Victoria (for whom he altered Osborne and built the east wing of Buckingham palace), ‘a better, kinder-hearted man never breathed’.

A. S. Hargreaves

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