Emma Holt Travelling Scholarship

George Holt Senior (1790-1861) moved to Liverpool from Rochdale in 1807 as a young man and made his fortune as a cotton broker firstly as an apprentice with Samuel Hope and then from 1812 as his partner. Like other brokers in Liverpool at this time, Holt traded in cotton grown and picked by enslaved people on the plantations of the southern states of America. In 1820 after marrying Emma Durning, the daughter of a wealthy and long established Liverpool family, George Holt and his wife engaged in local political affairs and educational and philanthropic schemes. George's son, George Holt Junior (1825-1896) not only inherited his father's fortune but also made his own by co-founding the shipping line Lamport & Holt. The firm traded largely with South Africa, India and South America with a particularly lucrative trade in shipping coffee from Brazil to New York and New Orleans. George Holt Junior married Elizabeth Bright and their only child Emma (1862-1944) would be raised initially in a property on Edge Lane then West Derby, before George purchased Sudley House in 1884.

Like his father and mother, George was also interested in educational and cultural philanthropy and was a major benefactor of University College in 1881 contributing £40,000 to its establishment. George’s daughter Emma would continue this work and following her father's death she would not only support the University of Liverpool financially but would also serve on its council. One of Emma's many initiatives would be the founding of the Holt Travel Scholarship. This provided winners with sufficient funds to study abroad - for example the 1906 winner Herbert James Rowse (1887-1963) used his scholarship to travel in Italy and America where he studied classical and American Beaux-Arts architecture at first hand. Rowse's studies would inform his greatest work such as the India Buildings scheme on Water Street, Liverpool which was built as a speculative venture by the shipping firm of Richard Durning Holt and Alfred Holt and Company (known as the Blue Funnel Line) between 1924-1932. Emma Holt never married and continued to live at Sudley House until her death in 1944. She bequeathed the house and the collection of paintings and furniture assembled by her father to the City of Liverpool. Sudley House now forms part of National Museums Liverpool. 

The Emma Holt Travelling Scholarship is awarded in review of student work in the third year examination for the degree in architecture.

Sudley House

Sudley House. Photograph by Man vyi (public domain)