© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Drew Conlon 

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Alexander Ritchie Conlon
Designation: Architect
Born: 29 July 1913
Died: 1983
Bio Notes: Alexander Ritchie Conlon (‘Alex’) was born in Edinburgh at 6 Legget’s Land, Dean on the 29 July 1913, the son of Peter and Jessie Conlon. He was the second youngest of six children having three brothers and two sisters. He was educated at Holy Cross Academy in Edinburgh which he left in 1927 or 1928 aged about 14 years. The family were not well off but were conscious that education was important in improving the circumstances of the children. Conlon joined the Boys Scouts in the 1930s and it was in the Scouts that he made friends with members of Edinburgh’s Italian community, some friendships lasting many years. From 1929-32 he attended classes at Edinburgh College of Art and Heriot-Watt College and took classes in ‘Technical Architecture’. On 30 March 1937 he became a student member of the RIAS.

At the outbreak of war he joined the Royal Engineers and was initially sent to a training camp in Elgin. He must have found time to continue his studies during this period as he was admitted ARIAS on 7 February 1940. In June 1941 he was commissioned with the rank of 2nd Lieutenant. He served throughout the war with the Royal Engineers in bomb disposal. He recalled going to Normandy on about D-Day + 3 and mentioned being ‘at’ a camp called Belsen. Just after the end of the war he was in Berlin and sent postcards home which are still held by his family.

On 5th July 1943, he had married Ellaline Monk in St Mary’s Church, Eccles Lancashire. In the initial years after the end of the war, he and Ellaline (‘Ella’) lived in rented properties in Edinburgh. Between 1948 and 1961, they had five children, three boys and two girls, though none followed him into architecture. In the early 1950’s, the couple purchased a house at 4, Belford Terrace, Edinburgh and this was to remain the family home till 1978 or 1979.

It is not clear when Conlon joined the practice of Reginald Fairlie. It may have been around the time of becoming a student member of the RIAS. He became a partner in the early 1950s. After Fairlie’s death in 1952 the practice was run by Conlon and another partner, Charles Gray. Gray left in about 1958 and Conlon remained as sole partner working at the Fairlie offices at 7, Raeburn Place, Edinburgh until the late 1960s. During the 1950s the completion of a number of churches, the artist Peter Miller painted representations of them. His son Drew recalls that during the 1960s Conlon was involved with groups opposing the to the proposed Edinburgh Inner Ring Road.

After the Fairlie practice was wound down Conlon moved to the office of Harley Haddow and Partners. He described accepting with cheerful resignation, not designing whole buildings now but receiving frequent requests to do the less glamorous tasks – ‘Alex will you design the drains?’).. He continued to live at 4 Belford Terrace until the house was sold in 1979. He then lived at 7a, Coltbridge Avenue, Roseburn until his death in 1983

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 24, Belford Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 2 of 27a, Coltbridge Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate 1983 

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 1Reginald Fairlie & Partners1950 Partner 

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 141950National Library of Scotland  EdinburghScotlandCompleted work begun by Reginald F J Fairlie. Alos responsible for design of large window - extecuted by Helen Turner
Item 2 of 141950St Michael RC ChurchKilmarnock AyrshireScotland 
Item 3 of 141951Our Lady of Lourdes RC Church  GlasgowScotlandPlans to be prepared for extensions, alterations and additions
Item 4 of 141952St Anne's RC ChurchCorpach Inverness-shireScotlandCompleted the work after Fairlie's death this year?
Item 5 of 141952St Benedict's AbbeyFort Augustus Inverness-shireScotlandTook over work from Fairlie
Item 6 of 141952St Catherine Laboure RC ChurchBalornock GlasgowScotland 
Item 7 of 141954St Laurence RC Church and PresbyteryDrumchapel GlasgowScotlandResponsible for Presbytery
Item 8 of 141955RC Church of St Francis and Franciscan Friary  DundeeScotlandChurch
Item 9 of 14c. 1955St Mary's ChurchBornishSouth UistInverness-shireScotland 
Item 10 of 141958St Francis Xavier RC ChurchFalkirk StirlingshireScotlandMainly responsible?
Item 11 of 141958University of St Andrews, St Mary's CollegeSt Andrews FifeScotlandSouth extension to library (cost: £85,000)
Item 12 of 141960sCraiglockhart Hydropathic InstitutionCraiglockhart EdinburghScotlandAlterations?
Item 13 of 14c. 1960Liverpool RC Cathedral of Christ the King  LiverpoolEnglandCompetition design
Item 14 of 141962St Mary's Star of the Sea RC ChurchLargs AyrshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 1Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp162 National Library of Scotland

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Courtesy of Drew ConlonInformation sent to Dictionary Biography based on information sent by Drew Conlon.
Item 2 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal recollections of David M Walker


© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Drew Conlon 

© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Drew Conlon