Basic Biographical Details

Name: Carver & Symon
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1888
Ended: 1934
Bio Notes: John Carver was born on 11 November 1834 and appears to have been the son of John Carver of Carverfield, Kinloch (see Howard Colvin, 'Dictionary of British Architects 1600-1840') who died 27 February 1858 and the cousin of the much older David Carver (born 1803, died 19 July 1878) who practised from Kinloch throughout his career (no work yet identified). John was trained as an architect by his father but was also apprenticed as a joiner before entering the office of an Edinburgh architect: the style of his draughtsmanship suggests that of David Bryce. He returned to Meigle to take over his father's practice in the mid-1850s.

The parish church at Coupar Angus shows Carver to have been a very able Gothic designer while the City of Glasgow Bank at Kirriemuir showed an original if idiosyncratic approach to Scottish baronial. Although he designed a few large houses his practice seems to have consisted mainly of secondary estate work.

In his later years Carver also had offices in Arbroath and Forfar, the latter becoming the main office. These were in partnership with Archibald Anderson Symon, born 1846 at Crathie who was articled to Carver 1866-71 and remained as assistant until he became a partner in 1888.

John Carver died at his house, Kirkhill, Meigle on 2 August 1896 and was buried beside his cousin David in Meigle Churchyard, his wife, Ellen Binny Isles (25 December 1836-28 February 1894) having predeceased him.

Symon retained the style of Carver & Symon into the 20th century. In 1890 Symon's son Alexander (b 1875) entered the practice as an apprentice and remained as an assistant 1895-98 before seeking wider experience first with Forman and Alston in Belfast in 1898 and then with Horace Field in London and finally the firm's ex-assistant, Archibald Campbell Dickie who was then in partnership with William Curtis Green. While in London he attended the classes of the Architectural Association, passing the qualifying exam in 1900. He applied for Associateship of the RIBA in October 1900, by which time he was working for the London County Council, and was admitted ARIBA on 3 December that year, proposed by the then president and secretary of the Architectural Association, William Howard Seth Smith and G B Carvill.

Alexander had returned to his father's office as a partner by 1912. A London office was opened in 1919 with Alexander in charge, his father being based in Arbroath with an additional office in Forfar and retaining responsibility for the Angus end of the practice.

Archibald Anderson Symon died in 1930 at the age of 84; Alexander on 4 September 1934. Prior to his death a Dundee office had been opened and he had taken into partnership Donald Ross, from Thoms and Wilkie's practice, the firm becoming Carver Symon & Ross.

Information from gravestones in Meigle Churchyard.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4Meigle, Perthshire, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 2 of 4Brothock House, Brothock Bridge, Arbroath, Angus, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1911 *After 1912 
Item 3 of 434, Castle Street, Forfar, Angus, ScotlandBusiness1912 * Main office
Item 4 of 412, Hart Street, London, EnglandBusiness1930 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 12Archibald Campbell Dickie18851893ApprenticeIn the Forfar office
Item 2 of 12John Carver18881896Partner 
Item 3 of 12Archibald Anderson Symon18881930Partner 
Item 4 of 12Alexander Symon18901895ApprenticeLater assistant and partner
Item 5 of 12John Holden Peacock18931898Apprentice 
Item 6 of 12Alexander Symon18951897 or 1898Assistant 
Item 7 of 12John Holden Peacock18981900Assistant 
Item 8 of 12Alfred Louis HayApril 1899April 1904Apprentice 
Item 9 of 12Alfred Louis HayApril 1904April 1905Junior Assistant 
Item 10 of 12Alexander SymonBefore 19121934Partner 
Item 11 of 12James Douglas NairnOctober 1923October 1928Apprentice 
Item 12 of 12James Douglas NairnOctober 1928January 1929Improver 

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 141883Fern Parish ChurchFern AngusScotland 
Item 2 of 141889High SchoolArbroath AngusScotlandTook over from Rowand Anderson whose design was not liked
Item 3 of 141890Inverbrothock Public SchoolInverbrothock AngusScotlandNew school
Item 4 of 141892Parkhouse SchoolArbroath AngusScotland 
Item 5 of 141893Woodside House and stables  AngusScotland 
Item 6 of 141894Bruce HotelCarnoustie AngusScotland 
Item 7 of 141895Alyth Public SchoolAlyth PerthshireScotlandAddition
Item 8 of 141895High SchoolArbroath AngusScotlandSouth wing
Item 9 of 141896(?)Bruce HotelCarnoustie AngusScotlandAlterations?
Item 10 of 141897Keptie Public SchoolArbroath AngusScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 11 of 141900Memus Free ChurchTannadice AngusScotlandSymon working alone - reconstruction
Item 12 of 141907Rescobie Parish ChurchRescobie AngusScotlandInterior remodelled with new furnishings
Item 13 of 14c. 1910Keith & Blackman's Engineering WorksArbroath AngusScotland 
Item 14 of 141916ManseInverbervie KincardineshireScotlandRefronting of older section


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 2Colvin, H M1995A Biographical Dictionary of British Architects 1600-18403rd editionNew Haven and London: Yale University Press 
Item 2 of 2Measurers\' Companion1911The Scottish Architects' and Measurers' Companion