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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Robert Scott Morton
Designation: Architect
Born: 7 November 1910
Died: 14 November 1996
Bio Notes: Robert Scott Morton was born on 7 November 1910, the son of William Stewart Morton, furniture manufacturer, and his wife, Mary Alexander Stevenson. William Stewart Morton was the eldest son of Robert Scott Morton, founder the the Scott Morton & Co cabinet-making, wall-paper manufacturing and interior design business.

Robert Morton junior was educated at merchiston Castle School. He attended day classes at the School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art under John Begg from October 1928 to June 1932. At the College he began lifelong friendships with Alan Reiach and George Lawrence. He also became close to Robert Matthew. In September of the latter year he was appointed assistant to Edward Brantwood Maufe of London. After a year in that office he returned to Edinburgh to resume his studies at the College of Art, obtaining his diploma and passing the Professional Practice exam in June 1934. He was admitted ARIBA on 3 December the same year, his proposers being John Begg, John Fraser Matthew and Frank Charles Mears. His nomination papers state that he had spent one month of each summer from 1929 to 1932 travelling, sketching and measuring: in Suffolk and Norfolk in 1929; in the Cotswolds and Worcestershire in 1930; in Tuscany in 1931; and in Stamford, Norfolk and environs in 1932. His declaration accepting his admittance was witnessed by Mary A Morton, who shared his address of 47 Ann Street, Edinburgh; she was a relative as he later married Dr Elspeth Hardie. He gave Edinburgh College of Art as his 'business address' at that time. Around this time he became a qualified town planner.

In 1935 a College travelling award enabled Mortyon to visit Denmark, Sweden Germany and Austria in which countries he made a special point of looking for examples of Mordern Movement architecture.

Morton joined the Department of Health for Scotland in July 1939 as an assistant architect. His career was interrupted by World War 11. He was given a direct commission in 1942 in the Royal Engineers. He was involved with mine clearance, and served in Burma with General Wingate's Chindits in jungle warfare. He was also in a convoy in the Mediterranean which was bombed from occupied France.

After he returned from war service in January 1947, his career advanced rapidly, immediately becoming a senior architect. He advanced rapidly to become a Planning Officer along with Alan Reiach and George Lawrence with Robert Matthew as Chief Architect and Planning Officer. In January 1950 he was promoted to Principal Architect, acting together with Bertie Woodcock, as one of the two deputies to the Chief Architect. Morton and Woodcock were formally appointed Deputy Chief Architects in December of that year, Woodcock being responsible for housing and Morton for all other Scottish Office subjects except agriculture. Morton's responsibility included building policy, architectural control and design research.

The scope of his work in this post was very wide and included schools, hospitals, health centres, police and fire service buildings, prisons and the hotels and public houses of the State Management Districts in the Gretna and Cromarty areas. Much of his work was advisory and supervisory, but later there were active research development projects and the Scottish Home Department preferred work on prisons and the state hotels and pubs to be done in-house.

He was elected FRIAS in 1954. In 1957 his remit changed. He became responsible for advice and serives to the Department of Agriculture. Schools were hived off to form a separate Group under George Lawrence. In 1962 he and the other Scottish Office architects were transferred into the Scottish Development Department. he was pleased to have agricultural buildings included in his remit, although the modern structures were very different from those of which he was very fond and about which he published a book, 'Traditional Farm Architecture in Scotland' in 1976 after his retirement.

Morton also took an interest in the complex problems of hospital planning. With his support, several imaginaticve architects had the opportunity to make valuable contributions to the work of the Deaprtment of Health's multi-disciplinary research and development effort, especially in the layout and design of wards and accident and emergency departments. Morton continued to supervise his Special Buildings Group until his retirement in 1971.

After retirement he was part-time architect on Historic Buildings Council cases until about 1980, and was full-time Historic Buildings Investigator during David Walker's long convalescence in 1973.

He was a tactful manager of his staff and was known for 'his broad sympathies, his open-minded appreciation of good work, his staunch support of his staff and his good humour and friendliness'.

Outwith his work he had a deep interest in painting and scuplture and served as President of the Scottish Arts Club from 1956-58. He was also keen on hill-walking and climbing. He conquered several Munros with his friends Alan Reiach and Sir Robert Grieve and shared with the latter a love of poetry.

Morton was a retired Fellow of the RIAS by the time of his death from a coronary artery atheroma on 14 November 1996 at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh. His wife, Francis Mary Osmaond Pitcairn, a retired physiotherapist, survived him as did their children, Alan, Frances, Robin and Janet.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 47a, Greenhill Gardens, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate 1996p/c
Item 2 of 447, Ann Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1934 *  
Item 3 of 414, Randolph Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business(?)1950 *  
Item 4 of 4The White House, Nether Liberton, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1954  

* 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 2Edward Brantwood MaufeSeptember 1932August 1933Assistant 
Item 2 of 2Department of Health for Scotland (Scottish Board of Health; later Scottish Development Department)1939 Architect(?) 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3John Begg3 December 1934for Associateship
Item 2 of 3John Fraser Matthew3 December 1934for Associateship
Item 3 of 3(Sir) Frank Charles Mears3 December 1934for Associateship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 2Robert Mather Godfrey7 February 1968for Fellowship
Item 2 of 2Thomas Ronald Wilson7 February 1968for Fellowship

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 2 House, Trinity Road  EdinburghScotlandInternal alterations and decoration
Item 2 of 21957White HouseNether Liberton EdinburghScotlandConversion of row of cottages to house.


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Glendinning, Miles2008Modern architect: the life and times of Robert Matthew RIBA Publishingpp13, 15-19, 29-31, 57, 77-8, 133, 142-3, 145, 153, 155, 205, 232, 279-80, 290-91, 504-05, 524-5
Item 2 of 2RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 5Builder10 April 1959  'Edinburgh Architectural Assocation: An Excellent Year Book' p679 - lists R. Scott Morton as the editor of the year book - CHECK
Item 2 of 5Builder22 May 1959  'Notes of the Week' p912
Item 3 of 5Builder28 April 1961  'Edinburgh Architectural Assocation: A Lively 1961 Year Book' p803 - R Scott Morton is listed as editor of yearbook
Item 4 of 5RIAS NewsletterMarch 1997v8, no2 Death note
Item 5 of 5Scottish Arts Club NewsletterJanuary 1997   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2RIAS, Rutland SquareRecords of membership Obituary etc.
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no5553 (combined box 87)


© All rights reserved. Courtesy of the Scottish Arts Club.  

© All rights reserved. Courtesy of the Scottish Arts Club.