Basic Biographical Details

Name: C & L Ower
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: May 1874
Ended: 1898
Bio Notes: Charles Ower Junior was born in Dundee c.1849, the son of Charles Ower Senior and his wife Mary Fleet. He was educated at Dundee High School and articled to his father c.1864-69 as a civil engineer. He was then sent to the South Kensington Schools to study architecture. He returned to Dundee to join his father's practice as a partner in 1873, probably after a period as an assistant. His father withdrew from private practice shortly thereafter, enabling him to take his brother into partnership.

Leslie Ower was born in 1851 (christened on 28 April), educated at Dundee High School and articled to his father in September 1866. In 1872 he moved to Glasgow as assistant to the railway engineer James Fairie Blair for eighteen months which enabled him to study engineering at the Andersonian University. He returned to join his father as assistant early in 1874, the practice becoming Charles & Leslie Ower in May 1874, a date which probably marked their father's retirement.

Although both brothers practised as architects and civil engineers, they had separate professional memberships. Charles sought admission only as AMICE while Leslie sought admission only as FRIBA. He was admitted on 16 June 1890, his proposers being William Mackison, John Macvicar Anderson, London, and John Holden, Manchester, the last of these also being an engineer-architect. Nevertheless it was Charles who wrote to the RIBA on 10 February 1892 setting out his views on architectural education, compulsory examination and registration, describing the current debate on whether the profession was a science or an art as 'Practical Architects versus Fancy men and Faddists.'

The Ower partnership was successful enough from the outset both as architects and engineers and it became an important teaching office. Both brothers were kindly employers by the standards of the time but in physical appearance and personality they were very different. Charles was a bigger-built bearded man, good with clients but difficult and somewhat excitable with a tendency to over-react within the office and at meetings of the Dundee Institute of Architects of which he was effectively the founder in June 1884: at the close of the meeting called by James Maclaren on the measurement of quantities he proposed a local professional body on the lines of the Architectural Association. Leslie was slim and, at least in later years, clean-shaven with a much more equable temperament. Tensions were evident from the beginning and by the 1890s, in the words of those who worked there, 'they couldn't pull together at all.' Although the architectural side of the practice seems to have been at its most prosperous between 1896 and 1898 when William Gillespie Lamond was their head draughtsman and had taken over much of the design work, the partnership was dissolved in the latter year.

Although both brothers retained a significant domestic practice the institutional and commercial clientele was largely lost following the break-up. Charles Ower continued in practice on his own account, gifting an important collection of architectural books to Dundee Public Libraries in 1900 to commemorate the relief of Mafeking which he believed would ensure an imperial future for aspiring architects and provided an endowment from which to buy more; but his own practice gradually faded and he isolated himself from the rest of the profession by his resignation from the Dundee Institute of Architects in 1903 on the trivial issue of its objection to the Dundee Wine Spirits and Beer Association seeking competitive tenders for licensing court plans. By 1914 he was practising only as a valuator from a backwater office in unfashionable Gellatly Street. He died unmarried at Benora, the large house he had built for himself in Broughty Ferry on 25 November 1921, leaving a moveable estate of 6,841 12s 0d.

After the dissolution of the partnership Leslie's blander style became more apparent, although a few works showed the more lively hand of Charles Geddes Soutar, who returned to his office in 1900 and remained with him until 1902 after a spell with John Murray Robertson. In 1908 Ower merged his practice with that of Blackadder and Allan on Robert Blackadder's retirement: there was a long-standing relationship between the Owers and the Blackadders as they had been neighbours in Craigie Terrace from 1866 to 1877. The combined practice of Leslie Ower & Allan was located in Ower's office at 5 Whitehall Street and now presented a considerably more up-to-date image. Born in 1874 and educated at Dundee High School David Lindsay Allan had been an apprentice with John Murray Robertson from 1890 to 1894, remaining with him as assistant, and had studied at the RA Schools while in the office of Niven & Wigglesworth in London.

Late in 1912 or early in 1913 Leslie Ower was 'laid aside' by a serious illness but recovered. With business at a very low ebb because of the war, Ower retired at the beginning of 1916, the practice being taken over by Thoms & Wilkie, whereupon, in Frank Thomson's words, Allan 'simply gave up'. Late in February of the same year, Ower became ill again and he died on 1 April 1916 at Belfield, Rosemount, Blairgowrie, a substantial mansion he had built for himself some years earlier, leaving a widow who was a daughter of the Dundee Corn Exchange merchant George Hill. His moveable estate amounted to the then very substantial sum of 16,801 14s 5d, more than twice as much as his brother had left.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3Dundee, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 2 of 332, Bank Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness18711876 
Item 3 of 3104, Commercial Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness1880 From 1880 onwards

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 12Leslie OwerMay 18741898Partner 
Item 2 of 12Charles Ower (junior)May 18741898Partner 
Item 3 of 12David Barclay NivenApril 1880April 1884Apprentice 
Item 4 of 12Thomas Martin Capponc. 1880 Apprentice 
Item 5 of 12John Donald Mills18881891Apprentice 
Item 6 of 12William Macpherson26 November 18881893Apprentice 
Item 7 of 12Alexander Gairns Laskie18891891Chief Assistant 
Item 8 of 12Patrick Hill Thoms18891894Apprentice 
Item 9 of 12Charles Geddes Soutar18921898Apprentice 
Item 10 of 12William GauldieAfter 18921897Apprentice 
Item 11 of 12William Gillespie Lamondc. 18961898Chief Assistant 
Item 12 of 12Arthur BoultonMid 1890s(?)1898(?)Apprentice 

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 97 People's Journal OfficeStirling StirlingshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 2 of 971872Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotland2nd western extension of 4 storeys
Item 3 of 971875Boase & Co premises  Dundee Addition
Item 4 of 971875Jute Warehouse  DundeeScotland 
Item 5 of 971875Tenement with North of Scotland Bank belowLochee DundeeScotland 
Item 6 of 971876West End UP Church Hall  DundeeScotland 
Item 7 of 97c. 1876Ryehill Congregation Hall  DundeeScotland 
Item 8 of 971877Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotlandProposed completion by addition of tower
Item 9 of 971877Houses at Loftus HouseBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 10 of 971877Houses on Broughty Ferry Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 11 of 971877Properties, Ramsay Place  DundeeScotland 
Item 12 of 971877Tay Ferries Booking Office, shops and boathouse  DundeeScotlandOffices and waiting room
Item 13 of 971877Wallacetown Church  DundeeScotlandAddition of large tower and other alterations
Item 14 of 971878Jute Warehouse  DundeeScotlandAddition of storey to warehouse
Item 15 of 971878Stewart & Son's Whisky Bond  DundeeScotlandTop floor added
Item 16 of 97c. 1878Ferry StationNewport-on-Tay FifeScotland 
Item 17 of 97c. 1878Row of single storey shops, Boat BraeNewport-on-Tay FifeScotland 
Item 18 of 97187910 Dudhope Terrace  DundeeScotlandAddition
Item 19 of 971879Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 20 of 971879Dundee Perth & London Shipping Company Offices  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 21 of 971879Houses on Ellen Street for William Benvie  DundeeScotland 
Item 22 of 971879Tay Ferries Booking Office, shops and boathouse  DundeeScotlandLodge, barrow shed and luggage room
Item 23 of 971880sMurroes Parish ChurchMurroes AngusScotlandProbably designed stained glass windows
Item 24 of 9718802 Roseangle  DundeeScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 25 of 97188057 Magdalen Yard Road  DundeeScotlandRemodelling and enlargement to west
Item 26 of 9718808 Roseangle  DundeeScotlandOriels added
Item 27 of 971880Cottage for Henry McGrady  DundeeScotland 
Item 28 of 971880Scottish Banking Company  DundeeScotlandMajor reconstruction with new elevations
Item 29 of 971880Seymour Lodge  DundeeScotlandOriginal house and additions
Item 30 of 971880Tenement with Shops on Blackness Road and Watson Lane  DundeeScotland 
Item 31 of 97c. 1880Warehouses, Shop and Dwelling House for Mr Hynd  DundeeScotland 
Item 32 of 971881Carnoustie Young Men's Christian Association BuildingCarnoustie AngusScotland 
Item 33 of 971881Houses for James Gentle  DundeeScotland 
Item 34 of 971881Newburgh Public HallNewburgh FifeScotlandReading room and coffee house
Item 35 of 971881Royal Exchange, Merchants' Shelter  DundeeScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 36 of 971881Terrace of houses, Airlie Place  DundeeScotlandAlterations to No 1, including addition of mansard attic
Item 37 of 971881Terraced houses, South Tay Street  DundeeScotlandRemodelling to form YWCA
Item 38 of 971881Trinity UP ChurchNewport-on-Tay FifeScotland 
Item 39 of 971881Villa for W G Thomson   Scotland 
Item 40 of 971882Blackness Home Farmhouse  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 41 of 971882Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotlandExtension to west end
Item 42 of 971882Glasgow Municipal Buildings  GlasgowScotlandExhibited design for municipal buildings and public offices - unspecified but probably for the second competition - not successful
Item 43 of 971882Hilltown Free Mission Church and SchoolHilltown DundeeScotland 
Item 44 of 971882Ladywell Calender Works  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 45 of 971882Offices and Warehouses for Bailie Philips  DundeeScotland 
Item 46 of 971882Polepark Works  DundeeScotlandAdditions
Item 47 of 971882Warehouse, Seagate  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 48 of 9718834 Gowrie Street, Houses for David Gemmell  DundeeScotland 
Item 49 of 971883Balmerino Parish ChurchBalmerino FifeScotlandGothic remodelling
Item 50 of 971883Dundee Harbour Office  DundeeScotland 
Item 51 of 971883J Carmichael & Co Premises  DundeeScotlandWarehouse and new moulding shop
Item 52 of 971883Panmure Street MissionHilltown DundeeScotland 
Item 53 of 971883Pitlochry West ChurchPitlochry PerthshireScotland 
Item 54 of 971883Terraced Houses, 2, 4 and 6 Hyndford Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 55 of 971883Villas for Bailie Gentle  DundeeScotlandVillas
Item 56 of 97c. 1883Shipping Offices  DundeeScotland 
Item 57 of 971884Dundee Custom House and Harbour Chambers  DundeeScotlandEnlargement of Harbour Chambers section
Item 58 of 971885Kirriemuir Town Hall and libraryKirriemuir AngusScotland 
Item 59 of 97c. 1885Terraced Houses, 3, 5 and 7 Rockfield Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 60 of 97c. 1885Terraced houses, Rockfield Street and Shaftesbury Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 61 of 971886Villas for Bailie Gentle  DundeeScotlandFurther villas
Item 62 of 971887Balmerino Parish Church hallBalmerino FifeScotland 
Item 63 of 971887Young Men's Christian Association Building  DundeeScotlandAdditions - cost 1,400
Item 64 of 971888J Carmichael & Co Premises  DundeeScotlandAdditions to foundry
Item 65 of 97c. 1888TircarraBarnhill DundeeScotlandAddition of west wing
Item 66 of 971889Carnoustie Young Men's Christian Association BuildingCarnoustie AngusScotlandFurther work
Item 67 of 971889Downfield Free ChurchDownfield DundeeScotland 
Item 68 of 971889Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotlandFurther enlargement - cost c. 3,300 - and tunnel under Bank Street.
Item 69 of 971889Villa on Norwood Crescent  DundeeScotland 
Item 70 of 971890Ann Street Works, Engine House  DundeeScotland 
Item 71 of 971890Ardvorlich HouseComrie PerthshireScotland 
Item 72 of 971890Constable Works Engine House  DundeeScotlandReconstruction
Item 73 of 971890Duncraig  DundeeScotland 
Item 74 of 971890Edward Street Mill, Logie Works  DundeeScotlandEngine House
Item 75 of 971890Free St Paul's Overgate Mission  DundeeScotland 
Item 76 of 971890Masonic HallLadybank FifeScotland 
Item 77 of 971890Model tenements, Broughty Ferry Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 78 of 971890St Mary's Manse  DundeeScotland 
Item 79 of 97c. 1890House for Leng on Blackness Road (Redcroft)  DundeeScotland 
Item 80 of 97c. 1890House for Watson on Blackness Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 81 of 97c. 1890House on Blackness Terrace  DundeeScotland 
Item 82 of 97c. 1890House on Perth Road for Peter Kerr  DundeeScotland 
Item 83 of 97c. 1890Semi-detached villas, Somerville Place  DundeeScotlandAlterations and additions - raised from single- to two-storey villas
Item 84 of 97c. 1890Villas, Albany Terrace  DundeeScotland 
Item 85 of 971891Ward Foundry drawing office  DundeeScotland 
Item 86 of 971892Home HouseBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandAddition
Item 87 of 971892LindaBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 88 of 971894WoodknoweBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 89 of 971895Tenements on Lyon Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 90 of 971895The Anchorage  DundeeScotland 
Item 91 of 971896Craigmount HouseKirkton of Strathmartine AngusScotlandWilliam Gillespie Lamond (as draughtsman in this office) mainly responsible
Item 92 of 971896Inglis Memorial Hall and LibraryEdzell AngusScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 93 of 971896Lochee Road UP Church  DundeeScotland 
Item 94 of 971896Pearl Assurance Building  DundeeScotlandDesign mainly by Lamond
Item 95 of 971897Bannatyne HouseNewtyle AngusScotlandAlterations and additions to form Bannatyne Home of Rest (additions since demolished, original house survives)
Item 96 of 971897British Linen Bank  DundeeScotlandDesign mainly by W G Lamond
Item 97 of 971899Ferryport-on-Craig Parish ChurchFerryport-on-Craig FifeScotlandAlterations at installation of organ


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 4Architecture in Manuscript 1601-1906 Architecture in Manuscript 1601-1906, 1022  p303
Item 2 of 4Post Office Directories     
Item 3 of 4Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp180, p182, p187
Item 4 of 4Walker, Bruce and Gauldie, W Sinclair1984Architects and Architecture on Tayside Dundee: Dundee Institute of Architectsp173 et seq.

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Dundee Courier and Advertiser3 April 1916  Obituary of Leslie Ower

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from Joseph Johnston, Frank Thomson, and W Sinclair Gauldie (relayed from his father William Gauldie)