Basic Biographical Details

Name: Norman Alexander Gordon Neil
Designation: Architect
Born: 15 January 1899
Died: 12 April 1972
Bio Notes: Norman Alexander Gordon Neil was born on 15 January 1899, the son of Alexander Neil, Church of Scotland minister, and his wife Cecilia Morrison. He studied at Edinburgh College of Art from 1919 to 1927, attending day classes for the first two years and morning classes for the rest of his certificate course whilst working as an assistant in the office of Frank Charles Mears. In 1926 he spent time travelling in France and Italy. He remained with Mears after the formation of the latter's partnership with Charles Denny Carus-Wilson, and by 1931 had been promoted to chief assistant. In July that year he passed the qualifying exam in Edinburgh and he was admitted ARIBA at the end of the year, his proposers being Mears, Carus-Wilson and John Begg.

In 1932 he formed a partnership with a younger colleague in Mears's office, Robert Hurd (born 1905), who had recently arrived in Scotland to 'write about architecture and investigate national traditions'. Neil was the modernist in practice (whilst at the same time being a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland), designing Ravelston flats in 1935 while Hurd undertook three restoration commissions for the Marquess of Bute.

Neil's first wife was German and he took a keen interest in German architecture. He was also a keen photographer and took many official pictures of the early years of the Edinburgh International Festival.

The partnership with Hurd was suspended when Neil left for India, his engagement to the practice's secretary having caused some embarrassment. It is said that he was friendly with a maharaja and a large scheme of high-density housing was prepared for him when he returned to the practice after the war. The practice title remained unchanged as Neil & Hurd until 1950 when Neil left altogether, marrying his secretary at around that time; the name was then changed to Robert Hurd Architect.

Neil died on 12 April 1972 at his home in Edinburgh. He had been married twice, first to Hedy Deasson and second to Elizabeth Beatrice Helen Bentinck.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5Renton Hall, Haddington, East Lothian, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 2 of 57, North West Circus Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate 1972 
Item 3 of 57, Glenorchy Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1931After 1939 
Item 4 of 53, Forres Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness19321944Neil & Hurd from 1934
Item 5 of 512, Randolph Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1944c. 1950 

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 4(Sir) Frank Charles Mears1921c. 1928Assistant 
Item 2 of 4Mears & Carus-Wilsonc. 1928Before 1931Assistant 
Item 3 of 4Mears & Carus-Wilson1931 * Chief Assistant 
Item 4 of 4Neil & Hurd19321950Partner 

* earliest date known from documented sources.


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 1931for Associateship
Item 2 of 3Charles Denny Carus-WilsonLate 1931for Associateship
Item 3 of 3(Sir) Frank Charles MearsLate 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 2319327-8 Moray Place  EdinburghScotlandStage and proscenium
Item 2 of 231934Buckholm Farm  RoxburghshireScotland 
Item 3 of 231934Oxenfoord Estate, SanatoriumOxenfoord MidlothianScotland 
Item 4 of 231934Parish Church Manse IonaArgyllScotlandAddition
Item 5 of 231934Torwoodlee HouseGalashiels SelkirkshireScotlandAlterations
Item 6 of 231935Cnoc Mor IonaArgyllScotland 
Item 7 of 231935Council ChambersInverness Inverness-shireScotlandProbably competition design
Item 8 of 231935Ravelston FlatsRavelston EdinburghScotland 
Item 9 of 23c. 1935AldersideGullane East LothianScotland 
Item 10 of 231936Acheson House  EdinburghScotlandRestoration
Item 11 of 231936Royal HotelNorth Berwick East LothianScotland 
Item 12 of 231937EaglescairnieHaddington East LothianScotlandRebuilding
Item 13 of 231937Hamilton HousePrestonpans East LothianScotlandRestoration
Item 14 of 231937Highland Home Industries  EdinburghScotland 
Item 15 of 231937HouseCorpach Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 16 of 231937Lamb's HouseLeith EdinburghScotlandRestoration (completed after Second World War)
Item 17 of 231938CoirechoilleSpean Bridge Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 18 of 231938West Highland HotelMallaig Inverness-shireScotlandAlterations?
Item 19 of 2319395 Charlotte Square  EdinburghScotlandAlterations
Item 20 of 231940Woodend ButeButeScotland 
Item 21 of 231948Dungavel HouseStrathaven LanarkshireScotlandResidential training centre for National Coal Board
Item 22 of 23c. 1950(?)Cakemuir CastleCrichton MidlothianScotlandAlterations
Item 23 of 231952South End Community CentreDaliburghSouth UistInverness-shireScotlandDesigned as power station


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Post Office Directories     
Item 2 of 3RIBA1930The RIBA Kalendar 1930-1931 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 3 of 3RIBA1939The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 

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 3Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from Ian Begg (letter, 20 January 2005)
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no4782 (combined box 35)