© All rights reserved. Edinburgh Architectural Association 1907 Exhibition Catalogue  

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Hamilton Beattie
Designation: Architect
Born: 10 December 1842
Died: 29 November 1898
Bio Notes: William Hamilton Beattie was born on 10 December 1842, the son of George Beattie, architect and builder. Around 1855 he was articled to David Bryce, returning to the family firm (see George Beattie & Son) c.1860 and taking over the architectural practice as George Beattie & Son. Throughout his career he practised as George Beattie & Son. With William's arrival the architecture became more up-market with the Greek revival 16 Princes Street (1864) and a Venetian Gothic warehouse in West Register Street, both for Cowans, the papermakers.

In January 1877 he adopted the family name Hamilton and was thereafter to be known as William Hamilton Beattie, Architect in Edinburgh.

In 1870 Beattie began his career as a hotel architect with the reconstruction of the Royal Hotel on Princes Street where he superseded David MacGibbon. Work went on until 1875: it ended in a lawsuit with the client Don R MacGregor but it made his name and resulted in the commission for the original Central Hotel (1873), the Clarendon (1875) and the giant Morningside Hydropathic (1879).

George Beattie died on 11 June 1872 and was buried in St Cuthbert's churchyard. He was survived by his wife Anne Leitch who lived until 10 February 1898. George's role as a valuator to the City Improvement Trust was taken on by William. In 1878 William's much younger brother George Lennox Beattie (born 1862) joined the firm as an apprentice and took classes at the University. Educated at the Edinburgh Collegiate School and the Government School of Design, he was an ordained surveyor and civil engineer as well as an architect. He became a partner in the family firm in 1890.

Engineering was an important element in the practice's business. In 1883 William Hamilton Beattie and ____ Mann SSC, with John Waddell as chairman and Beattie as engineer promoted a bill for a cable tramway from Hanover Street to Leith via Canonmills, Inverleith Row, Goldenacre, Trinity and Newhaven. The system had been developed by a Scot in San Francisco Andrew Smith Halidie (born Andrew Smith) and introduced to London by E S Eppelsheimer at the Highgate Hill line in London in May 1884. The firm behind the scheme was Dick Kerr who built colliery winding engines and were to provide the equipment. The bill failed but an amended bill with Trinity as its terminus and a separate route from Frederick Street to Comely Bank was duly passed on 7 August 1884. The Beatties supervised the laying of the track and designed the engine house and car shed at Henderson Row, the line eventually being opened for traffic on 28 January 1888.

In 1893 Charles Jenner entrusted the Beatties with the rebuilding of the Princes Street department store in a mixed German and Bodleian early Renaissance. Jenner died later that year but it was reputedly through the influence of his partner and successor James Kennedy that William Hamilton Beattie won the limited competition for the North British Station Hotel in 1895 but the story seems to be apocryphal as Kennedy was not a director of the North British. The result brought an angry protest from Rowand Anderson who also had been invited to compete. Following the win Beattie made a study tour with the North British Railway's general manager John Connacher and several of the directors, taking in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam and Budapest; and engaged Andrew Robb Scott (1849|50-1914) as chief assistant to see the project through to completion.

William Hamilton Beattie died at his home, 13 Douglas Crescent, of a cerebral haemorrhage while the hotel was under construction on the evening of 29 November 1898. He was buried in Dean Cemetery. At that date he was a widower, his wife Iona Mary McCaskie (born 16 August 1847) having predeceased him on 30 December 1889. He was survived by an only son, Ivor Hamilton Beattie born 23 November 1885 and educated at Rugby and Christ Church College Oxford, where he became a demonstrator in Physics.

William Hamilton Beattie's estate was the largest of any Scottish architect at that date at 42,176 17s 3d, with an eke of 1,236 4s 7d in 1910. The completion of the North British fell to Scott who then went into partnership with George Lennox Beattie. The partnership did not survive the completion of Jenners and was dissolved c.1903-04.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 917, Grove Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18631872NB Builders only 1863-64; architects and builders 1865-66; architects ordained surveyors & valuers only 1867-72
Item 2 of 913, Grove Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate18631873 
Item 3 of 994, Constitution Street, Leith, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18721875Branch office
Item 4 of 910, George Square, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business(?)18731876NB Architects, ordained surveyors & valuators
Item 5 of 917, Regent Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate(?)1874After 1881 
Item 6 of 968, George Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18771894 
Item 7 of 9Magdala Crescent, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1891 *  
Item 8 of 9136, George Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18951898 
Item 9 of 913, Douglas Crescent, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1898  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2David Brycec. 1855c. 1860Apprentice 
Item 2 of 2George Beattie & Sonc. 18601898Partner 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 4Francis (Frank) James Chambers Carruthers18771880Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4Francis (Frank) James Chambers Carruthers18801882Draughtsman 
Item 3 of 4Charles Ernest Hay1890s Assistant 
Item 4 of 4Walter Fairbairn18921896Apprentice 

Buildings and Designs

This architect 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 65186416 Princes Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 2 of 651864Warehouse for Cowan & Co, West Register Street  EdinburghScotlandOriginal building
Item 3 of 651865City PoorhouseCraiglockhart EdinburghScotlandWon competition to secure job (150 premium)
Item 4 of 651867Houses, Greenbank Drive, The Steils and Mid Steils  EdinburghScotland 
Item 5 of 651868Villa at DeanDean EdinburghScotland 
Item 6 of 651869Melrose District AsylumMelrose RoxburghshireScotlandCompetition designs
Item 7 of 651870Buildings (new) for Kennington & Jenner  EdinburghScotland 
Item 8 of 651872Edinburgh City Club  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction
Item 9 of 651872Grove Street Mission Church  EdinburghScotland 
Item 10 of 651872Grove Street Mission Church, West Fountainbridge Hall  EdinburghScotland 
Item 11 of 651872(?)Melrose UP ChurchMelrose RoxburghshireScotlandMay have provided design for his uncle Adam Beattie's enlargement of the church and redesign of the tower
Item 12 of 65187338-50 Shandwick Place  EdinburghScotland 
Item 13 of 651873Lanark LodgeDuns BerwickshireScotland 
Item 14 of 651873Tenement block with shops at ground floor  EdinburghScotland 
Item 15 of 651873Tenement block, Canongate, Jeffrey Street and Cranston Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 16 of 651873Tenements and shops, 7, 9, 11 High Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 65c. 1873Central Hotel  EdinburghScotland 
Item 18 of 651874Tenement, GrassmarketOld Town EdinburghScotland 
Item 19 of 65c. 1874Tenements, 1-5 Argyle Park Terrace  EdinburghScotland 
Item 20 of 651875Castle BreweryOld Town EdinburghScotland 
Item 21 of 651875Clarendon Hotel and Shopping Arcade  EdinburghScotland 
Item 22 of 651875Easter Duddingston House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 23 of 65March 1875Hydropathic InstitutionNorth Berwick East LothianScotlandAdditions to hydropathic
Item 24 of 651876Albert Buildings  EdinburghScotland 
Item 25 of 651876Royal Hotel and cinema  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction
Item 26 of 651876Young Men's Christian Association  EdinburghScotland 
Item 27 of 65187751 George Street  EdinburghScotlandNew ground floor
Item 28 of 651877Dalry Road SchoolDalry EdinburghScotland 
Item 29 of 651877Houses, West Mayfield DevelopmentWest Mayfield EdinburghScotland 
Item 30 of 651877Warehouse for Cowan & Co, West Register Street  EdinburghScotlandAlterations
Item 31 of 651878Canongate School  EdinburghScotland 
Item 32 of 651879Dowell's Rooms  EdinburghScotland 
Item 33 of 651879Goldenacre tenementsGoldenacre EdinburghScotland 
Item 34 of 651879Morningside Hydropathic HotelMorningside EdinburghScotland 
Item 35 of 651879Plewlands FeuingMorningside EdinburghScotland 
Item 36 of 651880sBlock of tenements, Chamberlain Road to Forbes Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 37 of 6518808-11 Hillside Crescent  EdinburghScotland 
Item 38 of 65188240-44 Elm Row  EdinburghScotland 
Item 39 of 651885Edinburgh International Exhibition of Industry, Science and Art, 1886  EdinburghScotlandCompetition design- premiated but did not win
Item 40 of 651885Paton's Art Galleries and Central Hotel  EdinburghScotland 
Item 41 of 651885Tenement, Elm Row and Montgomery Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 42 of 651885Turkish BathsLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 43 of 651885Villa, 63 and 63A Colinton Road  EdinburghScotlandDoubled the villa in size
Item 44 of 651886Braid Hills Hotel  EdinburghScotland 
Item 45 of 651886Northern Cable Tramway Engine House and Sheds  EdinburghScotland 
Item 46 of 65c. 1886Hydropathic InstitutionNorth Berwick East LothianScotlandAdditions
Item 47 of 6518872-10 Braid CrescentGreenbank EdinburghScotland 
Item 48 of 651887Grand HotelLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 49 of 651888Hall and Shops, Morningside DriveMorningside EdinburghScotland 
Item 50 of 651889Block of tenements, 176-196 Bruntsfield Place  EdinburghScotland 
Item 51 of 651889Houses on south side of Braid Crescent (numbers 36-40)Greenbank EdinburghScotlandUnexecuted proposals
Item 52 of 651889J G Stewart House, BroomieknoweLasswade MidlothianScotland 
Item 53 of 65c. 1890Milton Road East Lodge, gates and scaliger railing  EdinburghScotlandProbably - HS
Item 54 of 651892Tenement, Dalry RoadDalry EdinburghScotland 
Item 55 of 651893Jenners Buildings  EdinburghScotland 
Item 56 of 651894Nenthorn HouseKelso BerwickshireScotland'Buildings of Scotland' say Beatties responsible
Item 57 of 651895North British Railway Hotel  EdinburghScotlandWon competition to secure job
Item 58 of 651895Tenement, Howard Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 59 of 651898Carlton Hotel  EdinburghScotland 
Item 60 of 651898Commercial Bank of Scotland, North Bridge Branch  EdinburghScotlandNorthernmost section - see notes
Item 61 of 651898HotelGullane East LothianScotlandUnclear whether W H Beattie was involved or whether the building was by his firm after his death
Item 62 of 651898New North Bridge Buildings  EdinburghScotlandBegun by W H Beattie and Scott, completed by G L Beattie and Scott
Item 63 of 651898Royal Insurance Offices  EdinburghScotland 
Item 64 of 65Before 1898Bonded stores, BonningtonLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 65 of 65Before 1898Waterloo Hotel  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction as offices of railway company


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 4Edinburgh Academy1982Edinburgh Academy Register   
Item 3 of 4Glendinning, M, MacInnes, R and MacKechnie, A1996A History of Scottish Architecture   
Item 4 of 4Johnston, W T2003Artists of Scotland Officina Publications CDROM 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Builder10 December 189875 p535, 584 Obituary
Item 2 of 2Scotsman12 July 1872  p4 - report referring to William taking on his late father's post as valuator to the City Improvement Trust

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBARIBA Biographical Files  
Item 2 of 4Census records onlineCensuses  
Item 3 of 4Information via emailInformation from Donald Cattanach Sent November 2007
Item 4 of 4National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSNMRS Architects Index  


© All rights reserved. Edinburgh Architectural Association 1907 Exhibition Catalogue  

© All rights reserved. Edinburgh Architectural Association 1907 Exhibition Catalogue