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THOMAS CUBITT (1788-1855)

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Originally appearing in Volume V07, Page 607 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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THOMAS CUBITT (1788-1855), English builder, was born at Buxton, near Norwich, on the 25th of February 1788. Few men have exhibited greater self-reliance in early life in the pursuit of a successful career. In his nineteenth year, when he was working as a journeyman carpenter, his father died, and he tried to better his position by going on a voyage to India, as captain's joiner. He returned to London, two years after, in the possession of a small capital, and began business as a carpenter. The growth of his establishment was steady and rapid. He was one of the first to combine several trades in a ",builder's " business; and this very much increased his success. One of the earlier works which gave him reputation was the London Institution in Fins-bury Circus; but it is from 1824 that the vast building operations date which identify his name with many splendid ranges of London houses, such as Tavistock,Gordon, Belgrave and Lowndes Squares, and the district of South Belgravia. While these and similar extensive operations were in progress, a financial panic, which proved ruinous to many, was surmounted in his case by a determined spirit and his integrity of character. He took great interest in sanitary measures, and published, for private circulation, a pamphlet on the general drainage of London, the substance of which was afterwards embodied in a letter to The Times; the plan he advocated was subsequently adopted by the conveyance of the sewage matter some distance below London. He advocated the provision of open spaces in the environs of London as places of public recreation, and was one of the originators of Battersea Park, the first of the people's parks. At a late period he received professionally the recognition of royalty, the palace at Osborne being erected after his designs, and under his superintendence; and in the Life of the Prince Consort he is described by Queen Victoria as one " than whom a better and kinder man did not exist." In 1851, although he was not identified with the management of the Great Exhibition, he showed the warmest sympathy with its objects, and aided its projectors in many ways, especially in the profitable investment of their surplus funds. Cubitt, when he rose to be a capitalist, never forgot the interests and well-being of his workpeople. He was elected president of the Builders' Society some time before his death, which took place at his seat Denbies, near Dorking, on the loth of December 1855• His son, George Cubitt (1828- ), who had a long and useful parliamentary career, as Conservative member for West Surrey (1860-1865) and Mid-Surrey (1885-1892), was in 1892 raised to the peerage as Baron Ashcombe.
End of Article: THOMAS CUBITT (1788-1855)
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