Basic Biographical Details

Name: Morton John Heddell Cowie
Designation: Architect
Born: 14 October 1905
Died: 14 October 1971
Bio Notes: Morton John Heddell Cowie was born on 14 October 1905, the son of Isaac john Cowie, company director, and his wife, Annie Ness Chapman. He was articled to Sir Robert Lorimer in November 1921, studying under John Begg at the School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art from the following year. On completion of his apprenticeship in November 1925 he became a junior draughtsman in Lorimer's office, leaving the following year to complete his diploma with four years of full-time study whilst working with Leslie Grahame-Thomson during vacations. He was awarded the diploma in 1930 and in the same year passed the RIBA qualifying exam in Edinburgh. He became ARIBA early the following year, his proposers being Begg, Charles Denny Carus-Wilson and William Davidson; at that time he was still employed in Grahame-Thomson's office, and was living in his parents' home, 'Durrisdeer', 30 St John's Road, Corstorphine, from where he began a small business shortly afterwards. He joined the practice of Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid in the early 1930s and from 1935 to 1940 was involved in a part-time partnership with David Gardiner Hardie (born 1896) based at 11 Melville Street, Leith. From 1939 Cowie and Hardie carried out the design and construction of air raid shelters across Edinburgh, Hardie patenting his own shelter design in the following year. Cowie's involvement in this sphere lead to Leadbetter, Fairley and Reid also providing plans, section and elevations for air raid shelters across the capital such.

Fairley retired in 1938 and died on 18 May 1942 at Mount Pleasant, Inverugie, Peterhead; Reid in 1947. Cowie, who had returned to the practice after service in the war, moved office in the summer of 1948 to 53 Manor Place where he continued a successful independent practice under his own name. In 1950 Cowie is recorded as being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He took Douglas William Seaton into partnership in 1961, the firm becoming Morton J H Cowie and Seaton. Cowie retired in 1970 and Seaton continued the practice under the same name until his own retirement in 1997.

Cowie died at the Royal Infirmary Edinburgh on 14 October 1971, survived by his wife Kathleen Nicholls. His home was in Northamptonshire.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 42, Memorial Green, Roade, Northamptonshire, ScotlandPrivate 1971 
Item 2 of 4Durrisdeer/30, St John's Road, Corstorphine, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1930 *1939 or after 1940 
Item 3 of 411, Melville Street, Leith, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness19351940Practice closed for the war.
Item 4 of 453, Manor Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1950 *After 1970 

* 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 7(Sir) Robert Stodart LorimerNovember 1921November 1925Apprentice 
Item 2 of 7(Sir) Robert Stodart LorimerNovember 1925September 1926Junior Draughtsman 
Item 3 of 7Leslie Grahame Thomson (or Leslie Grahame-Thomson; later Leslie Grahame MacDougall)1926After 1930Assistant(?)During holidays
Item 4 of 7Leadbetter, Fairley & ReidAfter 1930c. 1935Assistant 
Item 5 of 7Cowie & Hardie19351940Partner 
Item 6 of 7Leadbetter, Fairley & ReidAfter 19451948  
Item 7 of 7Morton J H Cowie & Seaton19611970Partner 

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 1David Peter RossJuly 1956October 1956Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3John BeggLate 1930 or early 1931for Associateship
Item 2 of 3Charles Denny Carus-WilsonLate 1930 or early 1931for Associateship
Item 3 of 3William DavidsonLate 1930 or early 1931for Associateship

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 30c. 1923Cammo House  MidlothianScotlandSketch plans in Cowie & Seaton collection; unclear whether for alterations (in which case probably by Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid) or simply study sketches by Cowie
Item 2 of 30c. 1923(?)Castle Fraser  AberdeenshireScotlandSketch plans in Cowie & Seaton collection; unclear whether for alterations (in which case probably by Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid) or simply study sketches by Cowie
Item 3 of 301930sScott House, Boarding House for Edinburgh Academy  EdinburghScotlandGrandstand, and alterations to attic storey (begun in connection with Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid)
Item 4 of 301930Edinburgh Academy Rugby Ground grandstand  EdinburghScotlandPresumably involved, continuing the project after the cessation of the Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid practice
Item 5 of 30After 1930J & G Cox's Glue WorksGorgie EdinburghScotlandTook over job in later years
Item 6 of 30c. 1934(?)Millburn Tower, South LodgeGogar MidlothianScotlandUnclear whether involved in alterations (with John Begg)
Item 7 of 301937Frosts, 67-81 Shandwick Place  EdinburghScotlandExtension
Item 8 of 30193817 Magdala Crescent  EdinburghScotlandAlterations and subdivision
Item 9 of 301939Air raid shelters  EdinburghScotland 
Item 10 of 30After 1940Rothesay Place, conversion of three houses into flats  EdinburghScotland 
Item 11 of 30c. 19412 Ainslie Place  EdinburghScotlandInternal alterations - service lift, kitchen and bathroom
Item 12 of 30c. 1945(?)21 Moray Place  EdinburghScotlandAlterations - begun before Cowie joined the Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid practice, and continued by him after its cessation
Item 13 of 301946The Limes  EdinburghScotlandAdditions
Item 14 of 301946ViewforthBo'ness / Borrowstouness West LothianScotlandAdditions and alterations - in collaboration with Dick Peddie, McKay & Jamieson?
Item 15 of 3019475 Randolph Crescent  EdinburghScotlandAdditions, alterations, and subdivision into two separate houses and dental surgery - unclear whether Leadbetter firm or Dick Peddie firm or both carried out the work
Item 16 of 301947Ivy Cottage, Gorgie MillsGorgie EdinburghScotlandAdditions
Item 17 of 301947Waverley  EdinburghScotlandMinor alterations for fire safety - presumably involved, completing the work after Reid's retirement
Item 18 of 30Before 194712 Charlotte Street  EdinburghScotlandAlterations
Item 19 of 30Before 1947Clint  East LothianScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 20 of 30c. 1947Kirknewton HouseKirknewton MidlothianScotlandAlterations after demolition of main block - in association with Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid
Item 21 of 3019481 Belgrave Road  EdinburghScotlandGarage
Item 22 of 30194825 St Peter's Place, fish restaurant  EdinburghScotlandAlterations to form fish restaurant
Item 23 of 301948Manseknowe, Peebles Old TownPeebles PeeblesshireScotlandMinor alterations - presumably carried out by Morton J H Cowie after the deaths of the partners of Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid.
Item 24 of 30Before 1948Gorgie Mills Bowling Club PavilionGorgie EdinburghScotlandAdditions - begun by the Leadbetter firm, continued by Morton J H Cowie
Item 25 of 301949Tulliallan Castle, gardens and lodgeKincardine-on-Forth FifeScotlandProposed huts for estate office, 'instruction' and living quarters
Item 26 of 30c. 194(?)43 George Square  EdinburghScotlandAlterations to form kitchenette on ground floor.
Item 27 of 301950IbrisDirleton East LothianScotlandReconstruction after fire
Item 28 of 30c. 195099-101 Maxwell Street  GlasgowScotlandAlterations including additional residential accommodation - in collaboration with Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid
Item 29 of 301955J & G Cox's Glue WorksGorgie EdinburghScotlandAlterations and additions to skin cutting house and partial demolition of storehouse
Item 30 of 301958Edinburgh Academy, Preparatory Department  EdinburghScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4Bailey, Rebecca M1996Scottish architects' papers: a source book Edinburgh: The Rutland Pressp229
Item 2 of 4RIBA1939The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 3 of 4RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 4 of 4RIBA1970RIBA Directory 1970   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3H M Register HouseDeath Register  
Item 2 of 3National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSCowie and Seaton Collection Many plans and drawings.
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no4609 (combined box 24)