Newark Town Hall launches schools design challenge to celebrate 300th anniversary of John Carr

Posted on: Thursday, May 18, 2023

One of the 18th century’s finest neoclassical architects, John Carr of York made an important imprint on Britain’s heritage.

The hundreds of great houses, churches and public buildings he created in the 1700s were the style statements of their day and many still stand proudly on the 300th anniversary of his birth.

Newark Town Hall was built by John Carr in 1776 and to celebrate the architect’s achievements and encourage future talent, Newark Town Council and Newark and Sherwood District Council are teaming up with nationwide architects Donald Insall Associates for the John Carr 300 Challenge.

Schools in Newark and Sherwood are being invited to create lessons around Carr’s life and encourage students to fill in the blank of an architectural drawing of Newark Town Hall with their own design.

Matt Lamb, Director of Growth and Regeneration at Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “This is such a brilliant opportunity for schoolchildren to let their creative juices flow whilst also learning the architectural history of such an important building in Newark and the importance of preserving it for future generations. I can’t wait to see what everyone comes up with!”

“We want budding designers and architects of the future to let their imaginations run riot and create something exciting to go in its place. It could be strikingly modern or influenced by architecture of the past; the choice is theirs,” said Matthew Gleadell, Newark Town Council Clerk.

“Our challenge celebrates the work of one of the North’s most respected sons and aims to encourage creativity and career aspirations in young people.”

Schools in the area can still sign up for the John Carr 300 Challenge by emailing The deadline for entries is the 30th of June.

Guy Taylor Associates, an award-winning architecture studio located in Newark, are sponsoring the prizes which includes a Lego kit for first place and a prize for the runner up in each age category. 

A display of the entries will also be curated in the Town Hall ballroom during the national Heritage Open Days festival in September. The competition and the exhibition are opportunities for the public to engage with the fantastic heritage of Newark’s town centre, a key priority for the High Streets Heritage Action Zone and other town-based projects which are currently underway.

Nine other landmark John Carr buildings, spread across four counties and including Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham, are also taking part in the design challenge. Each will be encouraging local schools to re-think a historic detail of their building.

Donald Insalls’ architects will be working with each site to choose winners from Key Stages 1, 2 and 3 at the end of June.

Tony Barton, chairman of Donald Insall Associates, commented: “We are specialist conservation architects and are proud to have worked on some of John Carr’s magnificent buildings.

“Wouldn’t it be marvellous if this project inspires only one young person to train as a conservation architect, who works with us in the future, especially on a John Carr building, and follow in the footsteps of our brilliant trainee architects, Emma Chrystie-Lowe and Ryan Farrell who produced the drawings for the John Carr 300 Challenge?”