Basic Biographical Details

Name: Oldrieve Bell & Paterson
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1914
Ended: c. 1940
Bio Notes: William Thomas Oldrieve was born in London on 15 December 1853, the son of William Oldrieve, clerk of works and his wife Elizabeth Tyler. His father's family were Baptists from Devonshire. He was educated at Mansfield Grammar School, serving for a time under his father in the clerks of works office at Thoresby Hall under Anthony Salvin, 1868-71. He then moved to the office of the builders William Cubitt & Sons where he spent the years 1871-73. From there he obtained a place in the War Office, attached to the Royal Engineers where he remained until 1881 when he gained first place in the competitive examinations as assistant architect and surveyor in the Office of Works. During that period he spent at least part of his time in the Edinburgh office under Walter Wood Robertson. At some point post-1880 he was a distinguished pupil of Professor Baldwin Brown, gaining a class medal and the Cousin prize in the Architectural Section of the Fine Arts Class at Edinburgh University. In 1886 he was Godwin Bursar of the RIBA. This he used to visit Hamburg, Berlin, Vienna and Paris, making a particular study of post office buildings, notably Guadet's new Hotel des Postes in Paris and the General Post Office in Hamburg. As a result of his study he was appointed architect for provincial post offices in England and Wales; and in 1904 he was appointed Principal Architect for Scotland. He was admitted FRIBA on 3 December 1906, his proposers being Sir Henry Tanner, Sir John Taylor and Sir Robert Rowand Anderson. Oldrieve had strong antiquarian interests and a took a particular interest in the Ancient Monuments side of his duties, giving a paper on the Royal Palaces of Scotland at the RIBA in 1908, one on the excavation of the original abbey church at Holyrood to the Scottish Ecclesiological Society and another on the roof of Glasgow Cathedral to the Society of Antiquaries.

When Oldrieve retired in 1914 at the age of sixty he formed the partnership of Oldrieve Bell & Paterson. Of his partners William Wilson Paterson at least was a former member of his Office of Works staff, and the formation of the partnership may relate to the drastic downsizing of the Edinburgh office after Oldrieve's retirement when several staff were made redundant. Always known as 'Conky', Paterson had been born about 1889, the younger brother of John Wilson Paterson. He had been articled to the hotel specialist James Macintyre Henry, best known as the architect of Midlothian County Buildings, in 1904 and had attended Leith Technical School and studied at Edinburgh College of Art under John Watson before joining the Office of Works in 1910. He had passed the RIBA's qualifying exam in 1913 and won the Pugin studentship in the same year, and was admitted ARIBA in early 1914, his proposers being Henry, Watson and Oldrieve. Bell was Andrew W Bell, presumably the same who had been Dunfermline Burgh Engineer in the years around 1900, although no further details of him are yet known.

Shortly after his retirement from the Office of Works, Oldrieve was appointed a Royal Commissioner of Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. He also visited New Zealand and the Sandwich Islands and on his return became in 1917 Secretary for the Ministry of Munitions for North and East Scotland; and during that period he was, with Rowand Anderson and Thomas Ross, one of the principal organisers of the National Art Survey for Scotland. At the end of the war he re-formed the partnership of Oldrieve, Bell & Paterson. D Hay Fleming wrote of him 'All who came in contact with him were charmed by his pleasant unassuming and courteous manner, his unselfishness, generosity and transparent sincerity. Between him and the members of his staff, the greatest harmony ever prevailed, due doubtless on the part of his staff to the kindness and consideration he invariably showed them, and his readiness to give them the benefit of his long and varied experience'. Oldrieve was not only a good architect himself, but recruited an exceptionally able staff who were given exceptional opportunities for original design. The buildings executed during his regime were an exceptionally interesting series, predominantly Edwardian classic, but a few were late Gothic and Scots Renaissance, notably Aberdeen Post Office and the unrealised scheme for Falkland Palace - like government offices on Calton Hill.

Oldrieve was deeply religious. He was a member and elder of Morningside Baptist Church, President of the Baptist Union in 1915 and at the time of his death of stomach cancer on 12 January 1922 he was President of the Carrubbers Close Mission and a director of the National Bible Society for Scotland. He left a widow, Emma Goodchild; a son, the Rev Frank Oldrieve, Secretary of the Leper Mission, India; and a daughter. His moveable estate was 3,356 15s 10d.

The style of the practice remained unchanged after Oldrieve's death. William Paterson died c.1955.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 122, Ainslie Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1914c. 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 8William Thomas Oldrieve (sometimes William Thomas Oldgrieve)19141922Partner 
Item 2 of 8William Paterson1914After 1930Partner 
Item 3 of 8Andrew W Bell1914After 1930Partner 
Item 4 of 8George Samson Tosh19231928Apprentice 
Item 5 of 8Charles Mitchell Cuthill19251931Apprentice(?)part-time, whilst studying
Item 6 of 8Thomas Sharp Grossert19341939Apprentice 
Item 7 of 8Henry Douglas MatthewJuly 1936 Apprentice 
Item 8 of 8Rolf KorenMid 1939Mid 1939 Assisting in office during summer months

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 71921Iona Abbey IonaArgyllScotlandRebuilding of two arches at west end of north arcade
Item 2 of 7193226 Kinnear Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 3 of 71932Bristo Baptist Church  EdinburghScotland 
Item 4 of 71934Trustee Savings Bank  EdinburghScotlandBank formed in 1871 building
Item 5 of 7c. 1934Trustee Savings BankStockbridge EdinburghScotlandInterior work
Item 6 of 71938Edinburgh Savings Bank  EdinburghScotlandExtension
Item 7 of 71939Trustee Savings Bank  EdinburghScotlandWilliam Wilson Paterson as executant architect, and designer in collaboration with Thomas Cecil Howitt


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.