William Edward Riley was born in 1852. He joined the staff of the Admiralty Works Department in 1877 and served there for twenty-two years, reaching the rank of Assistant Director and twice received the special approbation of the Admiralty. He was appointed Chief Architect to the London County Council in 1899.
As Architect to the Council he was responsible for the general direction of many buildings or works of importance including the Central School of Arts & Crafts, Newington Sessions House, Greenwich generating station, fire stations, technical institutes, schools, working class dwellings etc. and during his tenure of the office the department gained a reputation as producing work of a very high standard which was a recognised model of departmental civic architecture. On retiring from the LCC in 1919 he entered into partnership with E B Glanfield. He retired in 1931 and died on 9 November 1937.