Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Morgan Aitken
Designation: Architect, Engineer
Born: 1851 or 1852
Died: 27 August 1923
Bio Notes: John Morgan Aitken was born in 1851 or 1852, the son of Robert Aitken, master slater, and his wife Margaret Williamson. After leaving school, he worked with his brother, C W Aitken, a contractor. After a short time he left to set up business on his own account. He rapidly gained a reputation for excellent workmanship in the buildings he supervised and in the 1870s he appears to have been appointed school board architect and was called on to design schools all over the Shetland Isles. He was also employed on country house renovations and designed churches and manses. His first major commission was Lerwick Town Hall followed by the Grand Hotel and the Central School. He also designed and constrcuted many houses in Lerwick.

Aitken was employed on various lighthouse commissions around the Shetland coast and several fog signals at lighthouse stations. He had a good knowledge of the currents around the the coast. He would appear to have been the contractor for the Bsas Rock lighthouse, presumably on the strength of his experience in Shetland.

He was a Fellow of the Surveyors' Institute and Fellow of the Highland Agricultural Institute. He was Superintendent of Lerwick Water Supply and Sewerage Works from 1872 to 1883, and was a building contractor as well as architect-engineer. He died in Lerwick on 27 August 1923 aged 71. He was married twice, first to Agnes Henderson and then to Margaret Manson. He was buried in the New Caemetery

Aitken was well-liked in Lerwick and took a keen interest in local matters. He was involved with a proposal for a war memorial but it was not executed. He was a member of the Morton Lodge of Freemasons - and in due course was one of its oldest members. He acted as architect to the Lodge.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect, engineer:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1Market Street, Lerwick, Mainland, Shetland, ScotlandPrivateBefore 18721923Was in Market Street in 1911 (but not certain before or after that time)

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect, engineer (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1Henry ('Harry') Wilson19001901Assistant 

Buildings and Designs

This architect, engineer was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 37 Broonie's Pier  ShetlandScotlandDate not known
Item 2 of 37 Cullivoe Water SupplyCullivoeYellShetlandScotlandWorked as engineer - date not known
Item 3 of 37 Harbour StreetLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandStreet layout - date not known
Item 4 of 37 Hillswick HotelHillswickMainlandShetlandScotlandDate not known
Item 5 of 37 Leagarth House FetlarShetlandScotland 
Item 6 of 37 Lerwick New TownLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandStreet layout - date not known
Item 7 of 37 Lighthouses   ScotlandDate not known
Item 8 of 37 New Market PlaceLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandDate not known
Item 9 of 37 Portsoy Coastguard StationPortsoy BanffshireScotlandDAte not yet established
Item 10 of 37 Roe Bridge  ShetlandScotlandEngineered bridge - date not known
Item 11 of 37 Scalloway Water SupplyScallowayMainlandShetlandScotlandWorked as engineer - date not known
Item 12 of 37 Slaughter HouseLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandDate not known
Item 13 of 371870sDrill Hall, Fort CharlotteLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 14 of 371870s(?)North of Scotland Oil Company officesLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 15 of 371870sPremises of Goodlad and GoodladLerwickMainlandShetland  
Item 16 of 371871Union Bank of ScotlandLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandActed as executant architect or clerk of works?
Item 17 of 371873Tumpan Head LighthouseStornowayLewisWestern IslesScotland 
Item 18 of 371881Town Hall (or Municipal Buildings)LerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandAlterations to design and addition of a tower.
Item 19 of 371885Summerside TerraceLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 20 of 371885Tenement with shopsLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 21 of 371886Scalloway HotelScallowayMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 22 of 371887Grand HotelLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandActed as builder for George Beattie & Son
Item 23 of 37Early 1880sPublic HallVidlinMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 24 of 371892Clydesdale BankLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 25 of 371894Baptist ChurchLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 26 of 371895Lighthouse, Sule Skerry Orkney Islands ScotlandActed either as architect or as contractor
Item 27 of 371895Parish ChurchLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandAddition of chancel
Item 28 of 371895Rechabite HallLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 29 of 37c. 1895Whalsay Pier WhalsayShetlandScotland 
Item 30 of 371896Voders Beacon  ShetlandScotland 
Item 31 of 371899North of Scotland Company officesLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 32 of 371901Central Public SchoolLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 33 of 37c. 1903Lighthouse, Bass RockNorth Berwick (off) East LothianScotlandActed as contractor.
Item 34 of 37c. 1904Alexandra WharfLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandResponsible for the formation of the Esplanade
Item 35 of 371905St Magnus SchoolLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandAlterations.
Item 36 of 37c. 1905Gardie House BressayShetlandScotland 
Item 37 of 37c. 1919Bruce HostelLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandWas the contractor and credited with walls, gates and gatepiers etc


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect, engineer:
Item 1 of 3Manson Lerwick in the Last Half Century  Biography, list of works
Item 2 of 3Measurers\' Companion1911The Scottish Architects' and Measurers' Companion   
Item 3 of 3Scotlands People Website - Statutory Registers - Deaths   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect, engineer:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Courtesy of Niall BraidwoodInformation sent via 'Contact Us' on website Sent April 2015
Item 2 of 2St Magnus Episcopal ChurchSt Magnus School, Original Drawings St Magnus School