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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Thomas Martin Cappon
Designation: Architect
Born: 4 April 1863
Died: 26 January 1939
Bio Notes: Thomas Martin Cappon was born in Monifieth on 4 April 1863, the son of James Cappon, a Dundee shipmaster and whose grandfather, also James, had served under Lord Nelson, and his wife Janet Martin Educated at Newport Public School and Dundee High School, he showed an aptitude for drawing and was apprenticed c.1880 to Charles and Leslie Ower, studying in parallel under Sir Alfred Ewing at University College, Dundee, where he gained first place for surveying and levelling in 1885. Cappon thereafter had the offer of a good appointment in America but preferred to set up practice on his own account in Dundee at the end of his apprenticeship. His early domestic work of the late 1880s and early 1890s shows the influence of John Murray Robertson as well as that of the Owers, notably at his St Andrews houses.

Although Newport Episcopal Church which he designed entirely on his own indicates that he was not without ability, Cappon quickly became dependent on well-selected assistants and apprentices. The earliest of these were Patrick Hill Thoms who was articled to him from 1889 to 1894 and managed the Brechin branch office until his departure in 1898; Harry Edward East (born 1877), articled to him from 1894 to 1898 who left for Gibson & Russell's; and Thoms's future partner William Fleming Wilkie, who had been articled to him in 1892. Following their departure Cappon engaged the much older William Gillespie Lamond from C & L Ower's office; Frank Thomson had become an apprentice rather earlier but did not enjoy his time with Cappon, much as he appreciated the company of Thoms, East and Lamond.

Cappon had in fact led what proved to be an over-active life. He was 'a keen votary of all recreative sports' with trophies in cricket, rowing, shooting and curling. He was an enthusiastic volunteer and by the later 1890s was a senior captain in the First Volunteer Battalion of the Black Watch. He represented the Battalion at the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London, resuscitating the volunteer movement in Newport as an addition to his own company in the same year (1897) and co-founded the Newport Boys Brigade in 1899; and in 1898 he was elected president of the Dundee Institute of Architecture Science and Art which together with his record as a Royal Academy exhibitor resulted in him being admitted FRIBA on 7 November of that year. As president of the Dundee Institute he was instrumental in establishing a school of architecture at Dundee Technical College with Thoms as lecturer. All these activities, combined with a peak in business in his practice in 1897-1900 brought about a serious breakdown in health early in the latter year. On medical advice Cappon sailed for Durban at the beginning of March and made a comprehensive tour of the battlefields of the South African Wars making a particular study of military hospitals, hospital trains and their equipment. He returned to Dundee in June bringing with him a collection of militaria gathered from the battlefields which included such curiosities as 'the hoof of the mule that took the Maxim Gun of the Highland Brigade into action'.

Inevitably Cappon's three month absence affected his practice. Lamond left about 1904 for the office of J H Langlands who was about to embark on a major school building programme. By that date Cappon required only his former apprentice John Morrison Mathers, nominally his head draughtsman, and a few apprentices to deal with his practice which now consisted only of a few large suburban houses. When commissions for these began to dry up, in 1908 Mathers left to take up the appointment of burgh surveyor of Tayport.

In 1912 Cappon secured - without competition - the commission for the large new Teacher Training College and Demonstration School in Park Place: for this he recruited Robert Norman Houghton McKellar, an assistant in the Glasgow practice of Miller & Black who had studied at the Glasgow School of Architecture under Eugene Bourdon. The executed building, carried out in 1913-23, has affinities with the work of the Edinburgh architects J M Dick Peddie and James Forbes Smith rather than with that of the Glasgow School, although there are some Burnetian touches in some of the details.

From 1901 to 1903 he was convener of the Nine Incorporated Trades of Dundee. He was a former member of the Dundee Harbour Trust and a Volunteer for twenty years. During the First World War Cappon was Dundee's recruiting officer with the rank of major, not a popular assignment with many people as the loss of life and casualties became ever more severe. At one time he was vice-president of the Dundee Unionist Association but latterly was an Independent Nationalist.

Cappon had no significant practice after the Training College was completed in 1922. He retired in 1929 selling what business there was to Joseph Johnston, a former pupil of William Alexander, who destroyed all the older practice records.

Cappon published his memoirs in 1935. These were concerned with his role in public life rather than in architecture and told little of the office. He died at his house, The Shieling, on 26 January 1939 and was buried at Balgay. He was predeceased by his wife but survived by his son J Denis Cappon, a well-known rugby player, and his daughter. He left moveable estate of £12,582 1s 8d.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 433, Reform Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 2 of 430, Reform Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 3 of 432, Bank Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1911After 1930 
Item 4 of 4The Shieling, Barnhill, Dundee, ScotlandPrivate1939 *  

* 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 1C & L Owerc. 1880 Apprentice 

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 24Joseph Johnston 1929(?) Johnston took over Cappon's business in 1929; unclear whether previously employed by him
Item 2 of 24William Fleming Wilkie18921896Apprentice 
Item 3 of 24John Morrison Mathers18931897Apprentice 
Item 4 of 24David Wishart Galloway18941895Assistant 
Item 5 of 24John Walker Smart18941895Assistant 
Item 6 of 24Patrick Hill Thoms18941898Senior AssistantManaged branch office in Brechin for final two years
Item 7 of 24Harry Edward EastJuly 1894November 1898Apprentice 
Item 8 of 24William Fleming Wilkie18961897Assistant 
Item 9 of 24John Carrick Stuart SoutarJuly 18979 September 1901Apprentice 
Item 10 of 24John Morrison Mathers18981903 or 1904(?)Junior Assistant 
Item 11 of 24Frank Drummond Thomsonc. 1898c. 1902Apprentice 
Item 12 of 24William Gillespie Lamondc. 18981904Senior Assistant 
Item 13 of 24David Adams Lumsden1898 or January 18991902 or June 1903ApprenticeWorking under William Gillespie Lamond
Item 14 of 24Henry BlackadderAugust 1899June 1903Apprentice 
Item 15 of 24John Morrison Mathers1903 or 1904December 1907Senior Assistant 
Item 16 of 24James Mollison Wilson1904c. 1907Apprentice 
Item 17 of 24David Thomson19041911Assistant 
Item 18 of 24Oliver Frederick Savege19061909Apprentice 
Item 19 of 24James Mollison Wilsonc. 19071909Assistant 
Item 20 of 24William Clark19091909 or 1910Assistant 
Item 21 of 24Robert Norman Houghton MacKellar19111912(?)Draughtsman 
Item 22 of 24David SharpeMarch 19111919Chief Assistant 
Item 23 of 24William Lambie ClunieMay 1919May 1923Apprentice 
Item 24 of 24William Lambie ClunieMay 1923May 1925Assistant 


RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6John Alexander Ogg Allan1915for Fellowship
Item 2 of 6Henry Blackadder3 December 1906for Associateship
Item 3 of 6David Adams LumsdenLate 1922for Associateship
Item 4 of 6John Morrison Mathers16 January 1911for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 6John Robert Moore29 March 1926for Associateship
Item 6 of 6William SalmondLate 1929for 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 75 Feus at Newton of Panbride  DundeeScotlandDate unknown
Item 2 of 75 Forfarshire Cricket PavilionForthill, Broughty Ferry DundeeScotlandDate unknown
Item 3 of 75 Houses, Inveraray Terrace  DundeeScotlandDate unknown
Item 4 of 75 Houses, Norwood Crescent  DundeeScotlandDate unknown
Item 5 of 75 Houses, Rockfield Street  DundeeScotlandDate unknown
Item 6 of 751886Flisk Parish ChurchFlisk FifeScotlandReconstruction
Item 7 of 751886St Mary's Episcopal Church and rectoryNewport FifeScotland 
Item 8 of 751888St Margaret of Scotland Episcopal ChurchMasterton/Mastertown FifeScotland 
Item 9 of 751892St Saviour's Episcopal Church HallBridge of Allan StirlingshireScotland 
Item 10 of 751893LiscombeSt Andrews FifeScotland 
Item 11 of 751893NetherleaWest Newport FifeScotland 
Item 12 of 751894Mission HallWormit FifeScotland 
Item 13 of 751894Ward Road Baptist Church  DundeeScotland 
Item 14 of 751894Wormit Free Church HallWormit FifeScotland 
Item 15 of 751894Wormit Parish ChurchWormit FifeScotland 
Item 16 of 75c. 1894The Castle HouseSt Andrews FifeScotland 
Item 17 of 751895East Free Church HallBrechin AngusScotlandBuilt by Thoms from the Brechin office
Item 18 of 751895Ethelstone HouseWest Ferry DundeeScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 19 of 751895Leng Memorial Chapel, lodge and gateway, Vicarsford CemeteryForgan FifeScotland 
Item 20 of 751895Newport SchoolNewport Fife?Scotland 
Item 21 of 751895Newport-on-Tay Parish ChurchNewport-on-Tay FifeScotland 
Item 22 of 751895Panmure Arms HotelEdzell AngusScotlandMajor extension. Largely designed and built by Thoms from the Brechin office
Item 23 of 751895Wormit SchoolWormit FifeScotland 
Item 24 of 751896Ramsay Arms HotelFettercairn KincardineshireScotlandLargely designed and built by Thoms from the Brechin office
Item 25 of 751896Scotscraig Golf ClubhouseTayport FifeScotland 
Item 26 of 751896St Patrick's RC Church, Presbytery and halls  DundeeScotlandDesign of church (and font) and presbytery
Item 27 of 751897Brechin Drill HallBrechin AngusScotlandFrontage - built by Thoms from the Brechin office
Item 28 of 751897House at East MylnefieldInvergowrie Perthshire/AngusScotlandProbably assisted by William Fleming Wilkie, whose family owned the property
Item 29 of 751897Joint Infectious Diseases HospitalBrechin AngusScotlandBuilt by Thoms from the Brechin office
Item 30 of 751897Meffan InstituteForfar AngusScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 31 of 751897Model railway cottages on East Mylnefield estateInvergowrie Perthshire/AngusScotland 
Item 32 of 751898Lawside Convent and school  DundeeScotlandSchool
Item 33 of 751899Episcopal Church hall (St Margaret of Scotland)Tayport FifeScotland 
Item 34 of 751899Forfar Fever HospitalWhitehills, Forfar AngusScotlandThird premiated competition design, but awarded job
Item 35 of 751899Liff Board School  DundeeScotlandAsked to provide plans for school
Item 36 of 751899St Mary's RC Church  DundeeScotlandMajor rebuilding of earlier church - mainly new façade
Item 37 of 751899St Roque's Episcopal ChurchBlackscroft DundeeScotland 
Item 38 of 751899Wishart Memorial Church  DundeeScotland 
Item 39 of 751900Airlie Memorial Tower, GlenprosenTullahill, Cortachy AngusScotlandWon in competition
Item 40 of 751900Double house, The Gables and Cranes MeadowMontrose AngusScotland 
Item 41 of 75After 1900TircarraBarnhill DundeeScotlandWing raised
Item 42 of 75c. 1900Kingennie House and Cottage  AngusScotlandor c1905 (Gifford)
Item 43 of 75c. 1901St Joseph's RC School for Boys  DundeeScotlandNew gateway and other alterations
Item 44 of 751902St Mary's RC School  DundeeScotlandSingle storey link to church heightened by a second storey
Item 45 of 751902St Mary's RC School (Boys)  DundeeScotlandadditions
Item 46 of 75c. 1902Canon Phelan's model tenementHilltown DundeeScotland 
Item 47 of 751903Valentine's Factory  DundeeScotland 
Item 48 of 751904Carselea, Easter MylnefieldInvergowrie PerthshireScotland 
Item 49 of 751904City of Perth Fever Hospital, FriartonPerth PerthshireScotlandDesign highly commended
Item 50 of 751904Clepington UF ChurchClepington DundeeScotlandPlaced second by assessor but secured the job
Item 51 of 751904St Joseph's RC ChurchBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 52 of 75After 1904Balgersho  PerthshireScotland 
Item 53 of 75After 1904Dundee Royal Lunatic Asylum, Nurses' Home etcLiff AngusScotlandNurses' home and drainage and heating
Item 54 of 75After 1904Newport SchoolNewport FifeScotland 
Item 55 of 75After 1904Panmure Golf ClubhouseBarry AngusScotland 
Item 56 of 75After 1904SchoolsTayport FifeScotland 
Item 57 of 75After 1904Scotscraig Golf ClubhouseTayport FifeScotlandAlterations?
Item 58 of 751905Montrose Public LibraryMontrose AngusScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 59 of 75After 1905InniscarraHazelhall DundeeScotlandAdditions to rear to Williamson's design
Item 60 of 751906Farington House, 1 Farington Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 61 of 75190728 Farington Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 62 of 751907Dunholm  DundeeScotland 
Item 63 of 751907Lawside Convent and school  DundeeScotlandAdditions and building of new school (including dormitories)
Item 64 of 751907Pitlair House  FifeScotland 
Item 65 of 751907Redgorton  DundeeScotland 
Item 66 of 751908Hall  DundeeScotland 
Item 67 of 751908Villa, Argyle Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 68 of 751 May 1908Balmerino ManseBalmerino FifeScotlandScheme of repairs agreed by Heritors
Item 69 of 751909Traprain  DundeeScotland 
Item 70 of 751910Feu at InvergowrieInvergowrie Perthshire/AngusScotland 
Item 71 of 751910Forgan Public SchoolForgan FifeScotlandExtension
Item 72 of 751911Dundee Training College for Teachers  DundeeScotlandPlans of college, schools and hostel
Item 73 of 75c. 1911Mayfield  DundeeScotland 
Item 74 of 75c. 1911Mills Observatory, Balgay Park  DundeeScotland 
Item 75 of 751914The Home  DundeeScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 1RCAHMS1992Dundee on Record RCAHMSSt MAry's RC Church; Image of the east gable (1989) p46

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 4Architect and Building News10 February 1939  Obituary
Item 2 of 4RIBA Journal22 May 1939 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary p744
Item 3 of 4Scotsman27 January 1939  Obituary
Item 4 of 4The Piper of Dundee4 July 1900   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Courtesy of Margaret LyeInformation to D M Walker Sent July 2010
Item 2 of 3Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from the late Frank Thomson, Joseph Johnston and Thomas Hill Thoms
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v13 p11, microfiche 117/E2 - no job list


© All rights reserved. The Piper o 

© All rights reserved. The Piper o' Dundee 4 July 1900