As one of a group of architects involved in the transformation of Newcastle into 'Tyneside Classical', Thomas Oliver played a significant role and, of his buildings today, Leazes Terrace and Leazes Crescent are the best known examples. For his work in surveying the first railway line from Manchester to Liverpool, he was offered a Knighthood, which he politely declined.
Born near Jedburgh, the only son of a weaver who died when Thomas was only two, much of his early life is unknown. He appears to have served an apprenticeship as a mason, probably came to Newcastle at the age of 22 and began working for John Dobson, during which time he married and set up home in High Friar Street.
When he was 30, Oliver set up in business on his own, eventually with an office in the Royal Arcade and a home in Picton Place, where he was to die. Besides his architectural work, Oliver surveyed and resurveyed Newcastle to such an extent that he produced various accurate and superbly engraved maps of the town. Also, as a talented artist, he drew 'on the spot' a panoramic view of Newcastle and Gateshead from windmill Hills for inclusion in his 1830 plan of Newcastle and Gateshead.