In the U. K. rior to 1962, many young would-be architects completed their architectural training in design offices. It was a way of attaining a professional qualification for those who lacked the financial means for full-time university study. In order to regulate and standardise the quality of its membership, the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) maintained a standards testing programme through which neophyte architectural trainees were required to submit drawings to the Institute for approval. These projects were called Testimonies of Study. Applicants for architectural registration were required to complete sequential sets of Testimonies, starting out with simple tests for drafting skills, freehand sketching, graphic design and composition, and an understanding of historical building design details and architectural history, before moving on to actual design projects of increasing complexity.
As each set was completed, applicants were given a certificate and allowed to progress to the next level of difficulty. Upon completion of all of the Testimonies of Study applicants were then required to sit an examination on Professional Practice, after passing which they were accorded the title of Architect. In 1958, a wide-ranging review of Architectural education recommended that the Testimonies of Study system be scrapped and that access to Architectural registration should only be possible through recognised university courses in Architecture. This recommendation was implemented in 1962, after which date the testimonies of Study system was no longer available. Students who were already in the programme therefore had four years to complete their course of study - a difficult task since all of the people studying under this system were also working full-time in practice and often took as many as 12 or 15 years to complete the programme.
My own architectural training began as an Articled Pupil in an architects office in Blackburn and required me to submit Testimonies of Study - for which I attended day and night classes at the local Technical College. I never completed the programme, but instead chose to attend a full-time education programme at the Birmingham School of Architecture in 1962.
The drawings shown here are examples of testimonies taken from the first two groups, prior to attaining Intermediate status. They are representative of many more drawings, now lost. Along with my five years of experience in an architects office, they enabled me to enter into a five year programme in the Third Year. They were the first immature attempts that led me into fisty years of professional practice. In this, they have some historical and sentimental value.
Testimonies of Study.
Design for a book cover Freehand pen and ink drawing, Interior, Carlisle Cathedral
Perspective Sketch, Great Harwood Parish Church
Details of a Corinthian Facade, Entablature amd Capitals
Detail of aHistory of Architecture Study
Design for a Fantasy Bridge
An Artists Studio
AHarbour Beacon and Shelter
A Blacksmith Workshop
Design for a Branch Library
Design for a Skiff and Punt Club