Architect of the North East: John Dobson

John Dobson is the North East’s most celebrated architect, and the church of St Thomas the Martyr was the first church he designed.

John was born in a pub in 1787. His father was the landlord of the Pineapple Inn, North Shields, and was also a successful producer of fruit and vegetables. It was soon clear that the young boy was a talented artist and as a young teenager John created textile designs and beautiful botanical drawings. In 1804, John became an apprentice to a leading North East architect, David Stephenson.

During his career John Dobson designed more than 50 churches and 100 private houses. He is best known for designing Newcastle Central Railway Station and for the grand remodelling of the city centre with his associate Richard Grainger.

John was married to Isabella and they had eight children. It was said John could survive on only four or five hours sleep a night! He died in 1865 and is buried close by, in Jesmond Old Cemetery.