Basic Biographical Details

Name: McArthy & Watson
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1884
Ended: 1906
Bio Notes: David McArthy was born in 1854, the son of John McArthy, coachmen's yardsman, and Christine Durran. He was articled to Robert Rowand Anderson and John Starforth but his RIBA nomination paper does not give dates or the reason for the change. He then acted as an assistant in an unspecified practice, spending his holidays travelling to Berlin, Hamburg, Leipzig, Dresden, Brussels, Antwerp and elsewhere. He commenced business on his own account in 1880 with a practice at 2 Lothian Road.

In or shortly after 1884 McArthy entered into a partnership with John Watson, their office being at 33 South Castle Street. Watson was born in 1853 and articled to Robert Rowand Anderson in 1869. He left at the end of his apprenticeship to join James and Robert Samson Ingram of Kilmarnock but returned to Anderson in 1876, remaining with him until 1882 when he set up practice at 2 Lothian Road. He had a particularly close relationship with Anderson, working on all his major projects of the 1870s and early 1880s. Watson is said to have spent three months of each year sketching historic Scots architecture, sometimes with Anderson. He sat on the Edinburgh Architectural Association's Sketch Book Committee from at least 1875 and initiated its classes for students, most of which he supervised himself, until their role was taken over by Anderson's School of Applied Art. Watson's younger brother, George Mackie Watson, born 1859, also joined Anderson's office as an articled apprentice probably through his brother's influence and stayed with Anderson until 1892 when he commenced independent practice.

The practice of McArthy & Watson moved first to 137 George Street c.1889 and then to 25 Frederick Street in 1900. In 1906 the partnership was dissolved, Watson setting up his own office at first at 24 Castle Street and then 27 Rutland Street where he seems to have remained until at least 1923.

Watson was admitted FRIBA on 3 December 1906. Surprisingly his proposers were Hippolyte Jean Blanc, James Macintyre Henry and Alexander Hunter Crawford rather than Anderson. On the reorganisation of Edinburgh College of Art in 1908 he was appointed head of the architecture section, a position he held until his resignation in 1914 at the age of sixty-one.

Of Watson, his pupil Thomas Forbes Maclennan recalled that 'he never seemed to consider for a moment whether a job was paying or not… he would expect from those under him the same unselfish devotion, and he would be surprised and hurt if one preferred to spend a Saturday afternoon at golf to spending it laboriously measuring an ancient building under his careful and scholarly guidance… In competitive work, he frequently had the hardest of luck. While in partnership with McArthy, their design for the SSC Library was placed first, and again their design for Ayr Public Library was placed first but in neither case did the work come their way.'

Watson was Vice-President of the Edinburgh Architectural Association in 1897-1900 and its President 1908-1910. He died in 1924.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3137, George Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 18841889 
Item 2 of 333, South Castle Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1889 or 1890c. 1895 
Item 3 of 325, Frederick Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 18951907 or c. 1908 

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 7David McArthy18841906Partner 
Item 2 of 7John Watson18841906Partner 
Item 3 of 7Thomas Forbes Maclennan1 August 18881892Apprentice 
Item 4 of 7Alexander Murray Hardie18911896Apprentice 
Item 5 of 7Thomas John Miller Reid18941895Assistant 
Item 6 of 7Alexander Murray Hardie18961898Improver 
Item 7 of 7Charles Ogilvie CampbellApril 19001901Junior Assistant 

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice 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 32 Fountainhall  East LothianScotlandRepairs and restoration - date unknown
Item 2 of 32 Tron Church  EdinburghScotlandRepairs and redecoration - date unknown
Item 3 of 32After 1884126 Princes Street  EdinburghScotlandExtension/reconstruction
Item 4 of 32After 1884Craigleith Poorhouse, probationer's pavilionCraigleith EdinburghScotland 
Item 5 of 32After 1884Cramond Parish Church HallCramond EdinburghScotland 
Item 6 of 32After 1884Gorebridge Free ChurchGorebridge MidlothianScotlandInterior decoration
Item 7 of 32After 1884Mission Hall  EdinburghScotland 
Item 8 of 32After 1884Newton DonKelso RoxburghshireScotlandInterior plasterwork; additions; reconstruction of stables
Item 9 of 321888Library for Solicitors to the Supreme Courts of Scotland  EdinburghScotlandFirst premiated competition design (entered jointly with George Mackie Watson); James Bow Dunn received commission
Item 10 of 3218891-8 East Fettes Avenue  EdinburghScotland 
Item 11 of 32After 1889The HirselColdstream BerwickshireScotlandAlterations - date unknown
Item 12 of 321891Ayr Public LibraryAyr AyrshireScotlandCompetition design - placed third: apparently initially placed first. Design prepared jointly with George Mackie Watson
Item 13 of 321893St Cuthbert's Parish Church Hall  EdinburghScotlandWon in competition
Item 14 of 321894Nos 1-3 George Pape's Widows' CottagesRoseburn EdinburghScotland 
Item 15 of 321895Gorgie Free Church and HallGorgie EdinburghScotland 
Item 16 of 32c. 1895RubislawMorningside EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 32189626-28 Polwarth Terrace  EdinburghScotland 
Item 18 of 321898Bangour Village AsylumUphall West LothianScotlandWon competition for design of administration block - and awarded first premium, but not the job
Item 19 of 321899Forfar Fever HospitalWhitehills, Forfar AngusScotlandWon competition, but T M Cappon awarded job
Item 20 of 321899Midlothian County Council Buildings  EdinburghScotlandPlaced third in competition (entered jointly with John Watson)
Item 21 of 321899Tenement, WestgateNorth Berwick East LothianScotland 
Item 22 of 321900Beechmount HouseMurrayfield EdinburghScotlandHouse, lodge, stable and approach road
Item 23 of 321900Falkirk Public LibraryFalkirk StirlingshireScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 24 of 321900St Stephen's UF ChurchComely Bank EdinburghScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 25 of 321901House for Mr DottColinton EdinburghScotland 
Item 26 of 321902(?)1-7 Roseburn Cliff  EdinburghScotland 
Item 27 of 321902Roseburn Cliff gatepiers  EdinburghScotland 
Item 28 of 321903Industrial School for GirlsGilmerton EdinburghScotland 
Item 29 of 321903PinkhillColinton EdinburghScotlandAdditions
Item 30 of 321904Hamilton Municipal Buildings and Public LibraryHamilton LanarkshireScotlandAwarded 2nd prize in competition
Item 31 of 32190527 Wester Coates Avenue  EdinburghScotland 
Item 32 of 321905St Adrian's ChurchAnstruther Easter FifeScotlandInternal refit, including elaborate scheme of redecoration and refurnishing

References

Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
 Author(s)DateTitlePartPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Post Office Directories     

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builder21 March 1924  Watson's obituary
Item 2 of 3RIAS Quarterly1924no9Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)Watson's obituary
Item 3 of 3RIBA Journal22 March 1924 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsWatson's obituary p365