Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Nicholas Thomson
Designation: Architect
Born: 1857
Died: 1951
Bio Notes: William Nicholas Thomson was born in 1857, known to his friends as 'Nick Thomson' and educated at George Watson's College. He was articled to Cousin & Ormiston c.1872-3: because of illness and absence abroad his acquaintance with David Cousin may have been brief. There is as yet no record of him having been in any other office and he probably remained with Ormiston as assistant until he set up his own practice as architect and surveyor at 87 Constitution Street, Leith in 1889, his clients being mainly distillers, brewers and publicans. He designed mainly in a partly neo-Jacobean freestyle in which slim pilastered angles and scalloped parapets were featured.

In 1893 Thomson was is one of the jurors in the trial at the High Court of A J Monson. The case was the Ardlamont case (Argyll), Monson being charged with the attempted murder, and murder of Dudley Hambrough, at Ardlamont in August 1893. The jury found the case not proven. Monson had insured Hambrough's life in early August, attempted to drown him and then arranged it to look as if Hambrough had accidentally shot himself.

In 1915 James Dorward, who had joined the practice as assistant in 1903, was taken into partnership, the practice name becoming W N Thomson & Co, and in 1935 Samuel Edwin Duncan was also taken into partnership, the practice moving to Hope Chambers, 52 Leith Walk in Leith. In 1938 Thomson retired at the age of seventy, his interest in the practice passing to his son William Innes Thomson, both 1910. When his father was fifty-three, the younger Thomson had studied architecture at Edinburgh College of Art and Heriot-Watt College under F C Mears, subsequently obtaining post-graduate qualifications in town planning. In the mid-1930s he worked as an assistant with W Scott Morton & Co probably for practical experience in bar fitting which was the staple business of the Thomson practice. The younger Thomson's return appears to have unsettled Duncan who withdrew from the partnership in the following year.

James Dorward retired c.1944 and in 1950 William Innes Thomson, then sole partner, moved the practice to Cambridge House, 13 Castle Terrace where he was joined in 1961 by his son Nicholas Innes Thomson who became a partner in 1968.

William Nicholas Thomson died in 1951; William Innes Thomson on 20 September 1990.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 791, Albany Street, Leith, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1889c. 1899 
Item 2 of 785, Constitution Street, Leith, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1899c. 1911 
Item 3 of 774, Inverleith Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1903c. 1909 
Item 4 of 760, Castle Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1911c. 1913 
Item 5 of 787, Constitution Street, Leith, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1912c. 1934 
Item 6 of 7Sunnycroft, Cramond Bridge, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1926  
Item 7 of 752, Leith Walk, Leith, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1935c. 1940 

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 2Cousin & OrmistonAfter 18781889Assistant 
Item 2 of 2W N Thomson & Co19151938Partner 

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 4Joseph Marr Johnston18951900Chief Assistant 
Item 2 of 4Claude Cornelius Tom Warnes18971902Apprentice 
Item 3 of 4Lewis Edwin Hetherington18971902Apprentice 
Item 4 of 4James Dorward1903Late 1914Assistant 

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 17189574-76 Inverleith PlaceInverleith EdinburghScotland 
Item 2 of 171895Junction Road UP ChurchLeith EdinburghScotlandOriginal church
Item 3 of 171895Tenement, Burgess Street and The Shore  EdinburghScotland 
Item 4 of 17189744 Constitution StreetLeith EdinburghScotlandPublic house front
Item 5 of 171897Graham Street Synagogue  EdinburghScotlandConversion from church
Item 6 of 171897Noble's BarLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 7 of 171897Ordiquhill  EdinburghScotland 
Item 8 of 171897The Victoria Bar  EdinburghScotland 
Item 9 of 171898CraigforthTrinity EdinburghScotland 
Item 10 of 171898Leith HospitalLeith EdinburghScotlandLarge Renaissance-style nurses' home to south, and ward extensions, built to commemorate Victoria's Diamond Jubilee
Item 11 of 171899The Bay HorseLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 12 of 171901Cademuir  EdinburghScotland 
Item 13 of 171908The KnoweColinton EdinburghScotlandJames Dorward's name is on plans - unclear whether done as assistant to William N Thomson, or in independent practice
Item 14 of 171911170-174 Great Junction StreetLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 15 of 171923116-118 Polwarth Terrace  EdinburghScotland 
Item 16 of 171930Garage and workshopsLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 171934Offices and warehouse for D BuchanLeith EdinburghScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Bailey, Rebecca M1996Scottish architects' papers: a source book Edinburgh: The Rutland Press 
Item 2 of 3More, John W (ed.)1908Trial of A J Monson, Glasgow  William Hodge & Co.p27
Item 3 of 3Post Office Directories     

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1W N Thomson & CoWilliam N Thomson practice archive