Frank bows out after a lifetime in design

A Lancashire surveyor whose working life began in 1947 has finally hung up his scale rule after 70 years.

Frank Whittle, who founded the eponymous Frank Whittle Partnership (FWP) in Preston, has retired aged 87.

Up until now he has continued to actively undertake quantity surveying work.

Frank built his company into one the country’s best known architecture and surveying practices with a national reputation, particularly in sports stadia and NHS / healthcare design, providing, amongst others, cost management, architecture and master-planning services.

His working life began as an office boy in Appley Bridge, near Wigan, just before the Queen and Prince Philip got married in November 1947.

His duties included cleaning the office and fetching the lunchtime pies for colleagues.

But his career took off when he joined Bolton Corporation and started his RICS studies at Bolton Technical College.

He swiftly moved up to the Manchester City Council architects’ office and from there to the same job at Lancashire County Council in Preston.

Promotion soon followed to team leader in the architects’ office and then to heading up research and development at County Hall for new building structures.

In 1973, Frank left the public sector to join former colleagues in practice who had set up Vandome Jones and Partners.

As each of his new partners retired the firm was eventually renamed Frank Whittle Partnership in 1986 to reflect the start of a new era.

Frank’s contacts in the construction world and expertise, particularly in cost management, led to the growth of the firm over the next decade.

He brought in David Robinson and Martin Whittle in 1991 as fellow partners and the firm has flourished ever since.

The partnership now includes Kate Shuttleworth, Brent Clayton, Gordon Burke and Neil Ainsworth.

At a retirement celebration held in the Guild Lounge at Preston North End, Frank paid tribute to the colleagues with whom he has worked over the decades and looked back on a long, satisfying working life.

He said: “It has been a long journey starting from my home in Bolton when in 1947 at the age of 16 my mother made me leave the sixth form at Canon Slade School in Bolton and my father got me a job at Applev Bridge near Wigan.

“My mother wished me to have wages to support her house-keeping, but I had a long term vision to work for myself one day and last October I had worked for 70 years, the past few decades at 

“In between organising dances at Bolton Technical College, I found time to begin my RICS studies whilst also working at Bolton Corporation.

“In 1957 I came to work in the architects department at County Hall and so began a long and fulfilling career in Preston.

“It was when David Robinson and Martin Whittle joined me as partners in the firm in the early 1990s that we really began to progress gaining a reputation far beyond the borders of Lancashire.

“It’s been thanks to all the staff at FWP fulfilling my expectations that I’ve been able to stay on so long and enjoy the ride.”

Frank paid tribute to former colleagues Maurice Vandome, Sid Senior, Alan Jones, Bob King, Roger White and Beryl Brown, who worked with him for 40 years.

Frank added: “I officially stood down as a partner when I was 70, but it’s only now I am finally going – mainly due to the cost of insuring me!

“I feel very proud and happy with the firm and the progress it has made.

“We are well known not only in the North West but throughout the UK and I wish all my friends and colleagues continued success and progress.”

FWP continues to be run by joint managing partners David Robinson and Martin Whittle from offices in Preston, Manchester and