John Alfred Duffill

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John Alfred Duffill was born in Hawera in 1883. His father was a carpenter and cabinet maker and the family moved with his business; first to Inglewood and later to Wellington. Here, Duffill completed high school and his studies in architecture. In those days, a university course on the subject was not offered, so Duffill learned by taking night school classes and apprenticing with a local architect. He was soon teaching at the night school, although he was only a few classes ahead of his students.

Duffill moved back to Taranaki in 1910 and joined the Eltham based firm of J.W. Rough. Duffill quickly made his mark on the town by assisting in the design of the Eltham Town Hall and neighbouring municipal building. After one year Rough decided to return home to England. Duffill moved the practice to Hawera and carried on alone until he was joined by Stephen Gibson in 1916. Gibson took over the responsibility for residential design and created many of the popular Californian bungalows in the area. This left Duffill free to focus on his passion for designing technically difficult buildings like hospitals and dairy factories. The partnership was successful and lasted 29 years until Gibson’s death in 1945. Duffill continued working for two more years, at first alone and later with Graeme Laurenson and S. Townsend. Duffill retired in 1947 after completing his last major project, a lactose factory in Kapuni. John Alfred Duffill died on 7 August 1967 at the age of 84. His legacy lives on through his buildings and through the Hawera architectural firm which 95 years later, is now known as Cowie, Rockell and Chong.


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