Basic Biographical Details

Name: W N Thomson & Co
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1915
Bio Notes: William Nicholas Thomson was born in 1857, known to his friends as 'Nick Thomson' and educated at George Watson's College. He was articled to Cousin & Ormiston c.1872-3: because of illness and absence abroad his acquaintance with David Cousin may have been brief. There is as yet no record of him having been in any other office and he probably remained with Ormiston as assistant until he set up his own practice as architect and surveyor at 87 Constitution Street, Leith in 1889, his clients being mainly distillers, brewers and publicans. He designed mainly in a partly neo-Jacobean freestyle in which slim pilastered angles and scalloped parapets were featured.

In 1915 James Dorward was taken into partnership. Dorward had been born on 28 September 1877 and had been articled to an unspecified architect in Edinburgh in 1895, studying at Heriot-Watt College. On completion of his apprenticeship in 1900 he had found employment with the North British Railway Company as an assistant on the North British Station Hotel, presumably in association with George Beattie & Son. He had joined William Nicholas Thomson's practice as an assistant in 1903. The practice title changed to W N Thomson & Co when Dorward was taken into partnership. Dorward was elected FRIAS in 1923.

In 1935 Samuel Edwin Duncan was also taken into partnership, the practice moving to Hope Chambers, 52 Leith Walk in Leith. Duncan had been born on 10 January 1899 and articled to James Bower Bennett of 5 Hill Street, Edinburgh in September 1915. His apprenticeship had been interrupted by war service but he had completed it with William Nicholas Thomson, and had studied at Heriot-Watt College and at Edinburgh College of Art under George Washington Browne. He had remained as assistant in the Thomson practice and had been promoted to principal assistant in 1925, superintending and inspecting all work for the firm, and working principally on domestic buildings, factories, shops, stores and alterations. He had been admitted LRIBA in late 1930 or early 1931, his proposers being George Washington Browne and A Nicol Bruce, the then secretary of the RIAS.

In 1938 Thomson retired at the age of seventy, his interest in the practice passing to his son William Innes Thomson, who had been born in 1910. William Innes Thomson had commenced the diploma course at the School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art and Heriot-Watt College in 1928, studying under John Begg and Frank Charles Mears. He had been awarded an exemption from the RIBA intermediate exam in 1931 and had spent the following year gaining experience in an unspecified office. He had continued his studies thereafter and had obtained his diploma in 1934, receiving an exemption from the final exam. He had been admitted ARIBA on 14 January 1935, his proposers being Begg, Frank Charles Mears and James Inch Morrison. His nomination papers state that between 1928 and 1934 he had made visits to traditional buildings throughout Britain and had studied contemporary work in London. At the time of his admittance he had been awarded a post-graduate scholarship in Town Planning and was still at the School of Architecture. In the mid-1930s he worked as an assistant with W Scott Morton & Co probably for practical experience in bar fitting which was the staple business of the Thomson practice.

The younger Thomson's return appears to have unsettled Duncan who withdrew from the partnership in the following year. Dorward was admitted LRIBA late in life on 20 July 1943, his proposers being John Ross McKay, Thomas Forbes Maclennan and William Innes Thomson. He was also a Fellow of the Edinburgh Architectural Association. He retired c.1944 and in 1950 William Innes Thomson, then sole partner, moved the practice to Cambridge House, 13 Castle Terrace where he was joined in 1961 by his son Nicholas Innes Thomson who became a partner in 1968.

William Nicholas Thomson died in 1951; William Innes Thomson on 20 September 1990.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 587, Constitution Street, Leith, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1889After 1935 
Item 2 of 5Hope Chambers/52, Leith Walk, Leith, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1935After 1943 
Item 3 of 5Cambridge/13, Castle Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1950 *After 1975 
Item 4 of 58, Manse Road, Aberdour, Fife, ScotlandBusiness1980 * Branch office
Item 5 of 584, Main Street, Davidson's Mains, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1981  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 9William Nicholas Thomson19151938Partner 
Item 2 of 9James DorwardEarly 1915c. 1944Partner 
Item 3 of 9Samuel Edwin DuncanAfter 1918Before 1925Apprentice 
Item 4 of 9(Sir) William Hardie Kininmonth c. 1924c. 1929Apprentice 
Item 5 of 9Samuel Edwin DuncanBefore 19251935Chief Assistant 
Item 6 of 9Samuel Edwin Duncan19351939Partner 
Item 7 of 9William Innes Thomson1938After 1975Partner 
Item 8 of 9Nicholas Innes ThomsonBefore 1965 Architect 
Item 9 of 9Nicholas Innes Thomsonc. 1975 Partner 

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 141930Garage and workshopsLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 2 of 141934Offices and warehouse for D BuchanLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 3 of 141938Seafield CrematoriumLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 4 of 141947Murray's Craigmillar Park Brewery and CottagesCraigmillar EdinburghScotlandReconstruction and extension, approximate cost 133,000
Item 5 of 141947Public House, Easthouses, for William Murray & Co LtdDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 6 of 141947Public House, Holytown, for William Murray & Co LtdHolytown LanarkshireScotland 
Item 7 of 141947Public House, Newtongrange, for William Murray & Co LimitedNewtongrange MidlothianScotland 
Item 8 of 141949Murray's Craigmillar Park Brewery and CottagesCraigmillar EdinburghScotlandDemolitions, additions and extensions costing 30,000
Item 9 of 141951Murray's Craigmillar Park Brewery and CottagesCraigmillar EdinburghScotlandFor extension of tun room
Item 10 of 141953The Doocot  EdinburghScotland 
Item 11 of 14Before 1975Automobile Association offices   Scotland 
Item 12 of 14Before 1975Queene Anne Whisky PlantNewbridge West LothianScotland 
Item 13 of 14Before 1975Ravelston Court  EdinburghScotland 
Item 14 of 14Before 1975Sports PavilionDuddingston EdinburghScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 2Municipal Annual1964Scottish Municipal Annual1964-1965  
Item 2 of 2RIBA1980Directory of Practices 1980   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Builder19 August 1949  p245
Item 2 of 2Builder26 October 1951  p570