Arthur Edward Cogswell was one of those important local architects who are relatively unknown but have left their imprint on the surviving Victorian and Edwardian urban landscape. Arthur was the son of a Peterborough wood carver whose family arrived in Portsmouth around 1870/72. His lucky fate was to become the pupil of George Rake, the most renowned contemporary architect. His apprenticeship would have included work on Kingston Jail (opened 1877) and Milton Lunatic Asylum (later St James' Hospital) which opened in 1879.
A sixty year career involved Cogswell turning his draughtsman's hand to every type of building: schools and stores, churches and cemetaries, banks and mortuaries, cinemas and libraries, offices and hotels, and many, many pubs.
He felt confident to use and adapt any style from 'neo-Flemish Renaissance' (Highland Road Schools) to Gothic (the Coach & Horses at Hilsea which Andy Nash in his book 'Architect within a Victorian City' calls the 'Scottish Baronial' style).
Much of his practice's work came from the brewery companies in the last quarter of the Victorian era - then a boom time for pub building. Many survive, including a distinctive series of half-timbered and turreted Public Houses - The Talbot, Pelham and Rutland Hotels. Cogswell also designed ceramic pub fronts, the pale-green glazed bricks of the Eastfield Hotel is a particularly fine example.
There are significant survivals but much of his work has been lost, the victims of war and development. Morants Store in Palmerston Road and Bulpitts Store in Kings Road were hit in the bombing raids of 1941. The Evening News building in Stanhope Road was demolished in 1972, seemingly to make way for the Zurich Insurance car park, and in an act of civic vandalism two years earlier, a fine urban landmark - the Portsmouth Water Company building, in Commercial Road, was demolished.
Cogswell could be civic-minded - he designed the Carnegie Library in Fratton Road for free; and he could be idiosyncratic, two examples being Branksmere, the Brickwood family's personal Xanadu in Queens Crescent and the Palace Cinema, now the Uropa Club in Guildhall Walk, with it's distinctive turreted silhouette signalling perhaps the only example of Pompey Islamic.
When he died in 1934, his two sons carried on the business.
[Further reading - 'AE Cogswell:Architect within a Victorian City' by Andy Nash (Portsmouth Polytechnic, 1976]