Toastrack Museum

Leonard C. Howitt – Architect

L.C. Howitt, as City Architect, is credited as the designer of the Toastrack. Here is a brief biography (courtesy of, alongside a fascinating series of photographs kindly provided for Manchester Modernist Society by Leonard’s grandson Ed.

Leonard Cecil Howitt 1896-1964

Leonard Cecil Howitt was born in Islington in 1896, the only child of William Howitt, type founder, and his wife Ada and was baptised at Holy Trinity, Islington on 27 December 1896. William seemingly died in about 1910, Ada and Leonard returning to Manchester to live with her mother and step-father in Old Trafford.

Leonard Howitt began his career in Manchester City Architect’s office shortly before the First World War, and after war service he entered Liverpool University School of Architecture, where he obtained his degree in 1925. Following graduation he joined Herbert J. Rowse, in Liverpool, rising to managing assistant and was a member of the team responsible for the design of the Mersey Tunnel.

He remained with Rowse until 1934 when he took the appointment of chief architectural assistant to Lancelot H. Keay, Liverpool Director of Housing. In 1937 he returned to Manchester as deputy city architect under G Noel Hill, but his career was again disrupted by service in the Army during the Second World War, where he rose to the rank of major.

He returned to Manchester in 1945 as acting city architect. In June 1946 he was appointed City Architect and remained in this post until his retirement in 1961.

Among his best known designs in the city are the reconstruction of the Free Trade Hall after bomb damage, the new Courts of Justice (1957-1962), the Terminal Buildings at Manchester Airport and Hollings College (1957-1960). He was also responsible for the design of many schools, colleges and other corporation buildings.

Leonard C. Howitt became a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in March 1942. He was its vice-president from 1956-1958 and served on its council for twelve years; he was president of the Manchester Society of Architects, 1955-1957; president of the City and Borough Architects’ Society, 1948-1956; a member of the Architects’ Registration Council,1950-1952; and a member of the Building Research Board, 1951-1955.

He also served on a number of other professional committees dealing with architects’ salaries and status and was Honorary Fellow of the Institute of Clerks of Works of Great Britain.

In recognition of his services to Manchester the Regional College of Art awarded him an honorary DA (Manc) in 1959. On his retirement from the corporation in 1961 he entered private practice in Manchester in partnership with Leonard J. Tucker.

Leonard C. Howitt died at his home in Mowbray Avenue, Brooklands, Sale on 20 May 1964 aged 67. He was survived by his wife Patricia two daughters and a son.

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