William B. Parnell was an architect working in Newcastle in the 19th century. Little biographical detail is available about him.
His known works in Newcastle include:
- St Nicholas Buildings, Westgate Road / St Nicholas Street (1850)
- Exchange Buildings, King Street / Queen Street, Lombard Street (1862)
- Princes Buildings, 1-23 (odd numbers) Queen Street / Akenside Hill (1863)
- Tyne Theatre - buit as the Stroll Cinema (1867)
- Pheonix House, Queen Street /Sandhill (c.1869)
- ?New Tyne Brewery, Bath Lane (1870)
Frank West Rich served as an apprentice to Parnell from 1863 to 1872. (The Directory of British Architects, 1834-1914: Vol. 2 - entry for Frank West Rich notes: "Articled to William Parnell from ca. 1863").
The Tyne Theatre is considered to Parnell's finest work. Parnell is thought to have modelled it on an Italian theatre. In the 1860's there was a focus on Italian symbolism - reflecting a strong interest in Garibaldi's ideals and campaign to liberate Italy from oppression. Garibaldi visited Newcastle and Tynemouth, and some radical Tynesiders fought in Garibaldi's army.
David Wilmore, who worked on the restoration of the Tyne Theatre after it was damaged by in 1985, traced Parnell to an unmarked grave in Croydon - Parnell had left Newcastle because of ill health and died at the home of his niece in Croydon in 1886. Wilmore erected a commemorative gravestone in the shape of the proscenium arch at the Tyne Theatre in 2007, marking the 140th anniversary of the opening of the building.
A resturant called "Dobson and Parnell" was opened at 21 Queen Street in 2019 - honouring Parell and his contemporary architect, John Dobson.