Thomas Proctor
August 24, 2016
Rajah Rammohun Roy
August 24, 2016
Thomas ProctorArchitect & Surveyor. Politician and Lord Mayor1852 to 1932
August 24, 2016
Rajah Rammohun RoyArchitect & Surveyor. Politician and Lord Mayor1852 to 1932
August 24, 2016

Frank WillsArchitect & Surveyor. Politician and Lord Mayor1852 to 1932


Wills Tobacco family

Frank was born on 17 August 1852 in Bristol, son of Henry Overton Wills II and wife Mary. Henry was one of the owners of the W.D & H.O. Wills tobacco company. Wills tobacco was the largest tobacco importer and manufacturer of tobacco products in late 19th century Britain.

Architecture training and career

Henry, Frank’s father, had many sons who joined the family tobacco business. However unlike his brothers, Frank ventured off to pursue his own interests in architecture. Frank attended the Merchant Venturers Technical College in Bristol, where he trained as an architect. From this, he went on to become one of the most renowned Bristolian architects of his time.

He built several key buildings throughout Bristol, which include the W.D & H.O Wills factory in Bedminster in 1906 now known as the Tobacco Factory.

The Hat on the Bust!

He also worked on many chapels and schools such as Red Maids and Bristol Grammar School. He also did work on Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery. He had a bust of his cousin William Henry who became Lord Winterstoke outside of his office – if Frank’s hat was on the bust, you knew he was in!

Personal life

He married Sarah and the 1881 census records him living with his wife, known as Sallie, at 6 Charlotte Street in the parish of St Augustine’s and working as an architect. He had two children daughter Helen Maud and son John Bertram.

He was president of the St Stephens Church bell ringers, and president of the Anchor Society a charitable organisation benefiting older people.


He was a Liberal like many of his family and became a councillor in 1908 and Lord Mayor in 1911. He was Knighted by King George V in 1912 for services to the city and architecture.

Frank died 26th March 1932 and rests in a grave with his beloved wife. This Lord Mayor’s memorial can be seen on the ‘Long Path’. Go up the steps to the right of the café, turn left and the grave is on the right about 15 yards up the path.

To find out more about Bristol’s’ Mayors and Lord Mayors; read this blog by Dave Napier, friend of Arnos Vale Cemetery.

Grave of Frank and Sarah Wills

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Frank Wills<span class="ag_notability">Botanist and funghi Specialist</span><span class="ag_event_date"><i class="icon-calendar"></i>1807 to 1876</span>
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