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:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|137, George Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||c. 1884||1889|| |
|33, South Castle Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||1889 or 1890||c. 1895|| |
|25, Frederick Street, Edinburgh, Scotland||Business||c. 1895||1907 or c. 1908|| |
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architectural practice:|
|Post Office Directories|| || || || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||21 March 1924|| || ||Watson's obituary|
|RIAS Quarterly||1924||no9||Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)||Watson's obituary|
|RIBA Journal||22 March 1924|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects||Watson's obituary p365|