Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Begg Simpson
Designation: Architect
Born: 1880
Died: 22 July 1959
Bio Notes: William Begg Simpson was born in 1880, the son of an Aberdonian farmer. He was described by his obituarist D F Fyffe as 'a man of amazing vitality and cheerfulness of spirit'. He was articled to Alexander Marshall Mackenzie from May 1896 to May 1901 and remained in the same office as assistant until August 1902, working alongside Mackenzie's son, Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie who was a year older. During this period he attended classes at Aberdeen School of Art. On leaving Mackenzie's office he moved to London as assistant to Read & MacDonald, both of whom had worked for Sir Ernest George. He was promoted to principal assistant in December 1907 and left in May 1910 to work for Arthur Conran Blomfield.

Simpson was a brilliant draughtsman. He was admitted LRIBA on 20 March 1911, his proposers being Reid, Blomfield and Alexander Marshall Mackenzie. In June that year he joined Edmund Walter Wimperis as an assistant, making his name with 26 Grosvenor Street in a neo-Georgian manner influenced by Lutyens. He became a partner in 1913.

The partnership of Wimperis and Simpson was renewed at the end of the First World War and in 1923 Wimperis & Simpson achieved still wider fame by winning the limited competition for the rebuilding of Fortnum & Masons. In 1925 Leonard Rome Guthrie was taken into partnership to help with the Grosvenor House project for which Lutyens was consultant, the practice name now becoming Wimperis Simpson & Guthrie. Born in 1880, Guthrie was educated at Glasgow High School and articled to William Leiper from 1895 to 1900, during which period he studied under William James Anderson at Glasgow School of Art. He won the Thomson Scholarship in 1899, enabling him to spend eight months travelling in Italy, Spain, France and Germany the following year. On his return in 1901 he spent some time travelling in Scotland, preparing drawings of Scottish gardens for Harry Inigo Triggs' book 'Formal Gardens of England and Scotland', and in the same year became head draughtsman to William Flockhart, marrying one of Flockhart's two daughters. He left Flockhart in 1907 but stayed in London to commence practice on his own account at 3 Gray's Inn Square. He passed the qualifying exam in 1909 and was admitted ARIBA on 28 February 1910, his proposers being Flockhart, Andrew Noble Prentice and Edwin Alfred Rickards. He specialised in domestic architecture and landscaping, but was also appointed architect to the Royal Institution in 1913. He was elected FRIBA on 8 June 1925, his proposers being Edward Prioleau Warren, James Glen Sivewright Gibson and William Curtis Green.

Edmund Wimperis died in retirement in 1946. The practice was continued by Simpson and Guthrie with Doulgas James Fyffe who had been taken into partnership in 1931. Guthrie retired in 1953 and died in April 1958 and Simpson, who had retired two years earlier in 1951 on 22 July 1959.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 316, Braemar Avenue, Wood Green, London, EnglandPrivate1911 *  
Item 2 of 361, South Molton Street, London, EnglandBusiness1911After 1939 
Item 3 of 3Little Pipers, Clay Hill, Enfield, London, EnglandPrivate1919 *  

* 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 8Alexander Marshall MackenzieMay 1896May 1901Apprentice 
Item 2 of 8Alexander Marshall MackenzieMay 1901August 1902Assistant 
Item 3 of 8Read & MacDonaldAugust 1902December 1907Assistant 
Item 4 of 8Read & MacDonaldDecember 1907May 1910Principal Assistant 
Item 5 of 8Arthur Conran BlomfieldMay 1910June 1911Assistant 
Item 6 of 8Edmund Walter WimperisJune 19111913Assistant 
Item 7 of 8Wimperis & Simpson19131925Partner 
Item 8 of 8Wimperis, Simpson & Guthrie1925 Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6Arthur Conran Blomfield20 March 1911for Licentiateship
Item 2 of 6James Glen Sivewright GibsonMid 1919for Fellowship
Item 3 of 6Alexander Marshall Mackenzie20 March 1911for Licentiateship
Item 4 of 6Herbert Read20 March 1911for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 6Herbert ReadMid 1919for Fellowship
Item 6 of 6Edmund Walter WimperisMid 1919for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 5William Robertson Annan3 April 1939for Associateship
Item 2 of 5Maurice Joseph Brown3 April 1939for Associateship
Item 3 of 5John Murray EastonLate 1921for Associateship
Item 4 of 5Douglas James Fyffe6 March 1939for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 5Thomas Shepherd Morris2 December 1935for 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 61897Aberdeen University, Marischal College  AberdeenScotlandSouth wing - probably involved, as apprentice to A Marshall Mackenzie
Item 2 of 61901Greyfriars Church  AberdeenScotlandAs assistant to Alexander Marshall Mackenzie
Item 3 of 61923Fortnum & MasonPiccadilly LondonEnglandWon competition to secure job
Item 4 of 6After 1925Dupplin CastleForteviot PerthshireScotlandAlterations
Item 5 of 61932Flats, Brook House site  LondonEnglandAppointed for job
Item 6 of 61935 or 1936North Scottish Regional Broadcasting StationBurghead MorayshireScotland 


Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Builder14 August 1959   
Item 2 of 2RIBA JournalNovember 1959 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary p30

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v13 no847; F no1662 (microfilm reel 14)