Basic Biographical Details

Name: Leslie Grahame Thomson & Connell
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1937
Ended: c. 1940
Bio Notes: Leslie Grahame MacDougall was born Leslie Grahame Thomson on 14 August 1896, the son of Patrick William Thomson, departmental store proprietor. He was educated at Merchiston Castle School and was called up at the end of his final year, serving first with the Highland Light Infantry and as a sergeant in the Army Pay Department, and from 1917 in Egypt and Palestine with the Egyptian Expeditionary Force. On his return he commenced his architectural training at Edinburgh College of Art under Sir George Washington Browne and John Begg and was articled to Sir Robert Lorimer. The course ended with a full-time year at the end of which he and another student were the first to complete the full recognised RIBA diploma course giving exemption from the qualifying exam and he was admitted ARIBA on 14 February 1927. Prior to this he had travelled widely listing Italy, France, Switzerland, Belgium, Holland, Norway, Greece as well as the places in which he saw active service - Constantinople, Palestine, Egypt, Tunisia, Algeria and Syria.

In 1927 Thomson set up practice on his own account at 10 St Colme Street, moving to 6 Ainslie Place in 1930 or 1931. Through a combination of sheer ability, excellent presentation watercolours and family connections he was successful at once. Initially he worked in a markedly Lorimer-influenced style but quickly moved into a white-walled style with American-Italian and sometimes 'Cape Dutch' elements similar to those adopted by Oldrieve Bell & Paterson, the last of these, William Paterson being a particular friend. In 1936 Grahame-Thomson received the commission for the new headquarters building for the National Bank of Scotland but his more conservative design for it did not meet with the approval of the bank and Arthur Davis of Mewes & Davis was brought in as consultant to redesign the elevations. Later Scandinavian influences took a hold over him, following a number of study tours abroad, a development also associated with Frank James Connell who became his partner in late 1937.

Connell had been born on 23 May 1910 and had commenced his studies at Edinburgh University where he had achieved first-class marks in the first year of the Fine Arts class in June 1928. He had then proceeded to Cambridge University, where he had graduated BA (Hons) in the Mechanical Sciences tripos in 1930 and BA in architectural subjects in 1932. He had returned to Edinburgh thereafter, studying at the College of Art. In June 1934 he had been awarded the RIAS Rutland Prize for working drawings and in August that year had visited Scandinavia, including Gothenburg, Stockholm, Helsinki, Paimio and Abo, as well as Copenhagen and Hamburg. In June 1935 he had obtained his diploma and an exemption from the RIBA final exam, and the following month had passed the Professional Practice exam. He had been admitted ARIBA on 2 December that year, his proposers being Arthur Forman Balfour Paul, John Begg of Edinburgh College of Art, and Harold Tomlinson of the University of Cambridge School of Architecture, who wrote in his supporting statement: 'He was supervised by me at Cambridge in Architecture, after taking a Tripos in Engineering. His earlier training in Engineering was of great assistance to a particularly apt pupil. I have watched his brilliant later career with interest.' By that time Connell had joined Grahame-Thomson as assistant, soon before being taken into partnership. He had a large hand in the Caledonian Insurance Building.

The practice was backed up by a magnificent library sold in 1983. As was remarked at the time, Grahame Thomson 'had absolutely everything'. Thomson was elected FRIBA on 21 June 1937, his proposers being Reginald Fairlie, Frank Charles Mears and John Fraser Matthew. He was also melected ARSA in that year.

Connell was briefly the editor of the RIAS Quarterly from January 1939 but when he was called up this must have ended, as did the partnership with Grahame-Thomson. During the Second World War Grahame-Thomson taught for a short period at Edinburgh College of Art from want of other work. After the war Connell joined the staff of the Scottish office as an architect-planner, while Thomson resumed practice as sole partner.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 16, Ainslie Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1937 or 1938c. 1940(?) 

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 5John Hardie Glover19371938Assistant 
Item 2 of 5Ian Sinclair GavinOctober 1937 Assistant 
Item 3 of 5Frank James Connell1937 or 1938c. 1940Partner 
Item 4 of 5Leslie Grahame Thomson (or Leslie Grahame-Thomson; later Leslie Grahame MacDougall)1937 or 1938c. 1940Partner 
Item 5 of 5Ernest Ronald HarrisonMid 1938Before 1939Assistant 

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 151937Caledonian Insurance Building  EdinburghScotland 
Item 2 of 151937Fairmilehead Parish ChurchFairmilehead EdinburghScotland 
Item 3 of 151937National Bank of Scotland Head Office  EdinburghScotlandOriginal design and interior
Item 4 of 151937The Pantiles RoadhouseWest Linton PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 5 of 15c. 1937BecketsfieldBowden RoxburghshireScotland 
Item 6 of 151938House in KillearnKillearn StirlingshireScotland 
Item 7 of 151938New house at CrieffCrieff PerthshireScotland 
Item 8 of 151938New premises for Young Women's Christian Association  EdinburghScotland 
Item 9 of 151938SrongarbhWest Linton PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 10 of 151939A'ChomraichSilverburn MidlothianScotland 
Item 11 of 151939Exhibition Halls, Waverley Market  EdinburghScotlandCompetition entry
Item 12 of 151939Midmar CastleEcht AberdeenshireScotlandProposed restoration - not executed
Item 13 of 151939Town's Churches, Old St Paul's  DundeeScotlandPlain oak pews
Item 14 of 15c. 1939Town's Churches, St Mary's Church and church hall  DundeeScotlandReseating, oak screen etc
Item 15 of 151940HouseBowden RoxburghshireScotland 

References

Currently, there are no references for this architectural practice. The information has been derived from: the British Architectural Library / RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914; Post Office Directories; and/or any sources listed under this individual's works.