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Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Gordon Thomas Tait |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||20 March 1912 |
|Died: ||3 October 1999 |
|Bio Notes: ||Gordon Thomas Tait was born in London on 20 March 1912, the eldest son of Thomas Smith Tait and his wife Constance Hardy. Despite a desire to become a sculptor, he was persuaded instead to follow his father into the profession of architecture, and studied at the Architectural Association with his younger brother Kenneth from 1930 to 1935. In 1933-34 he acted as clerk of works under his father's partner Francis Lorne on the Mount Royal flats in London's Oxford Street, during which time he amused himself sketching the workmen on the project. In 1935 and 1936 he found employment as an assistant first to Alliston & Drew and then to Hugh Minty, and in 1936 he re-joined his father's firm of Burnet Tait & Lorne, working on the Glasgow Empire Exhibition of 1938 and on housing schemes. He was admitted ARIBA on 3 April 1939, his proposers being his father, Minty and Joseph Emberton. His FRIBA nomination papers suggest that he was made a partner in the practice in that year, but soon afterwards he joined the RAF and served in Rhodesia during the Second World War, reaching the rank of squadron leader. |
After the war the practice was in some financial difficulty as a result of the sharp decline in business, the death of Ludovic Gordon Farquhar and the cancellation of the Colonial Office commission. Gordon Tait gradually took over the London practice from his father who remained a partner up to the time of his death; the younger Tait was admitted FRIBA in 1948, Basil Spence being among his proposers. From that year his main residence was at Bedford Square.
Francis Lorne remained in charge of the Edinburgh office until he moved to South Africa c.1949. In order to inject new capital Gordon Tait reluctantly took on new partners F Kennedy Axten, E A Blade, H G Hammond and C Spencer Willmott - not all of whom he liked - in the London practice, its title changing to Sir John Burnet Tait & Partners (later abbreviated to Burnet Tait). The turbulent post-war economic conditions soon gave way to a massive increase in commissions, particularly for corporate headquarters buildings, schools and housing: the practice also expanded overseas, opening an office in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia where it built the King Faisal Hospital.
Gordon Tait took an active part in public life as a conservative councillor in Paddington and as Master of the Worshipful Company of Masons. He married twice: first in 1934 to Patricia, by whom he had two children. The elder of these, Gavin, continued the practice. Patricia died in 1960. By his second wife, Marion, Tait had three children.
Tait retired in 1979 at the age of sixty-seven. He left London to live at Ladymead, East Harting, Petersfield, which he had bought in 1962 as a weekend and holiday home, and where he assembled an important collection of vintage cars and rode. He also owned and raced a sailing dinghy - a Flying Fifteen - which he kept at Hayling Island, conveniently close to Petersfield.
In his later years Tait suffered somewhat from back problems, but characteristically remained on his feet. He died on 3 October 1999. He was married twice, first in 1934 to Patricia who died in 1960 and by whom he had two sons and second in 1977 to Marion by whom he had three children. He was a man of impressive presence, bearded in his youth but with a military moustache after the war. Although described by obituarists as quiet and retiring, which in some respects he was, he was forthright and no-nonsense in manner, going straight to the crux of any issue.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|1, Montague Place, London WC1, England||Business||1939 *|| || |
|10, Bedford Square, London, England||Private/business||1948||1978|| |
|Ladymead, East Harting, Petersfield, Hampshire, England||Private||1962||1999||Weekend and holiday home|
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
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 started||Building name||Town, district or village||Island||City or county||Country||Notes|
| ||Joseph Tritton School||Battersea|| ||London||England||Probably responsible for revision of scheme|
|1933||Mount Royal Flats|| || ||London||England||As assistant clerk of works under his father, Thomas Smith Tait|
|1936||Glasgow Empire Exhibition, masterplan||Bellahouston|| ||Glasgow||Scotland||Worked with his father, Thomas Smith Tait on masterplan|
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Herald, The||4 December 1999|| || ||Obituary p18|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Professor David M Walker personal archive||Professor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material|| ||Information from Gordon Tait's son Russell Tait, per Dawn McDowell|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||A no7182 (combined box 177); F no4395 (combined box 12)|
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