William Walter Begley (1893-1980), Architect, Historian and Ecclesiologist, was the inaugural Chairman (and later President) of The Vauxhall Society. Begley worked in the GLC Architects’ Department from 1912 to 1954, and headed the Historic Buildings Department of the former London County Council.
He was also an active member of the London Survey Committee, which supervised the preparation and publication of the LCC’s Survey of London series, a detailed account of the Historic Buildings of London. Volumes XXIII (1951) and XXVI (1956) cover the former Metropolitan Borough of Lambeth. On retirement, Begley was elected as LCC Councillor for Vauxhall, and served on both the Town Planning and Housing Committees.
In 1964 he was elected a councillor of the newly-formed London Borough of Lambeth and was vice-chairman of the Development Committee until 1968. Begley was also President of the Albert Square Association and presided over the inaugural meeting of the Vauxhall Society in April 1969, at which he was elected Chairman, a post he held until his election as President in 1977. Begley campaigned against the proposal by the Church Commission to demolish the Parish Church of St Mary-at-Lambeth; St Mary’s was eventually saved to become the Garden Museum.
In his later years, Begley made a number of visits to the Soviet Union, where Russia where he met eminent architects and archaeologists. A keen collector of postage stamps and medals, he was also an expert on Morris & Co. stained glass.
William W. Begley died shortly after Christmas 1980, bequeathing part of his library of books on the architecture of London to The Vauxhall Society. He also left a collection of newspaper cuttings on London topography to Lambeth Archives, and letters and research papers to The Royal Institute of British Architects: www.nationalarchives.gov.uk