1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Hansom, Joseph Aloysius

9495741911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 12 — Hansom, Joseph Aloysius

HANSOM, JOSEPH ALOYSIUS (1803–1882), English architect and inventor, was born in York on the 26th of October 1803. Showing an aptitude for designing and construction, he was taken from his father’s joinery shop and apprenticed to an architect in York, and, by 1831, his designs for the Birmingham town hall were accepted and followed—to his financial undoing, as he had become bond for the builders. In 1834 he registered the design of a “Patent Safety Cab,” and subsequently sold the patent to a company for £10,000, which, however, owing to the company’s financial difficulties, was never paid. The hansom cab as improved by subsequent alterations, nevertheless, took and held the fancy of the public. There was no back seat for the driver in the original design, and there is little beside the suspended axle and large wheels in the modern hansom to recall the early ones. In 1834 Hansom founded the Builder newspaper, but was compelled to retire from this enterprise owing to insufficient capital. Between 1854 and 1879 he devoted himself to architecture, designing and erecting a great number of important buildings, private and public, including churches, schools and convents for the Roman Catholic church to which he belonged. Buildings from his designs are scattered all over the United Kingdom, and were even erected in Australia and South America. He died in London on the 29th of June 1882.