Basic Biographical Details

Name: Kinross & Morrison
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1920
Ended: 1923
Bio Notes: John Kinross was born at Shore Road, Stirling, 3 July 1855, the second son of William Kinross (1810-74), the owner of a sizeable and successful carriage-building firm, William Kinross & Sons in Stirling, and his second wife, Ann Marshall (1821-99). He attended Stirling High School between 1865 and 1870, and was articled to John Hutchison of Glasgow. In 1875 he moved to the Edinburgh office of Wardrop & Reid, where he worked on a range of quality country house, ecclesiastical and British Linen Bank branch projects. Between the winter of 1880 and the spring of 1881, he undertook an architectural study tour of Italy, producing on his return the folio volume, 'Details from Italian Buildings Chiefly Renaissance', published by George Waterston & Sons in 1882. By the middle of 1882, Kinross was established in independent practice in partnership with Henry Seymour at 20 George Street, Edinburgh. Seymour and Kinross lasted as a partnership until 1889 and the quality of the work indicates that Seymour assumed a lower profile throughout that period.

Kinross was an active member of the Edinburgh Architectural Association (EAA), serving as its Vice President in the years around 1886 and as President from 1890 to 1892. Ecclesiastical commissions, notably for the Episcopal Church, dominated his early practice. He was never to become involved in speculative developments and as a consequence his domestic commissions demonstrated quality and refinement. In these years a distinctive, fused, modern yet traditional style developed out of the principles of the Queen Anne revival and his personal study of the Scottish seventeenth century.

In 1889 he moved to the Howe Street office from which he secured the patronage which brought his career to its height. He relocated to 2 Abercromby Place with Harold Ogle Tarbolton as partner in 1898, in response to a greater workload. He was President of the Edinburgh Architectural Society from 1898-99 and battled alongside Rowand Anderson and Washington Browne to gain recognition for architecture in the RSA. From 1889, he began a series of exhaustively researched and sensitively handled restorations. The later projects were mostly gained through the informed and collaborative patronage of the Third Marquess of Bute; during the 1890s, two-thirds of Kinross's work came from the Marquess. Nonetheless domestic commissions remained the principal work in Kinross's practice and his preferred field. He was first engaged on the Manderston estate in Berwickshire in 1890, where his contribution escalated from ancillary structures to the reconstruction and extension of the house between 1901 and 1905, for his other major patron, Sir James Miller. In parallel with his classical work at Manderston, in the years around 1900, Kinross developed a high-quality but select portfolio of domestic work in other styles, ranging from the Cotswold Jacobean style mansion, lodge and stables at Carlekemp, to various estate cottages at Altyre, while continuing his expertise in stable design at both the latter, and at Ingliston. The Peel, with English and Scottish Renaissance inspiration, followed in 1904, and the remodelling of Ardtornish from 1908, with interior redecoration largely derived from earlier works. He worked with the leading east coast craftsmen, firms of cabinetmakers and interior specialists, notably Scott Morton & Co, Whytock & Reid, Morrison Co, Grandison & Sons, and Thomas Hadden ensuring continuing excellence in design, material and rendition. Kinross's enthusiasm for quality production and materials extended to the advanced form of cast-iron grate for Smith & Wellstood, work which gained him a regular Royalty until the War years.

From 1905, as a result of the deaths of his two major patrons, Bute and Miller, and facing a national decline in the market for quality residences, Kinross's practice suffered a sharp decline. Tarbolton moved to Hay & Henderson in 1905, and Kinross began to actively seek commissions. Elected a full academician of the RSA in 1905, Kinross immersed his energies increasingly in these artistic circles, holding a diverse array of posts, including Auditor. Through his work with the architectural section he demonstrated a rich and profound appreciation of contemporary design on an international level, working invariably alongside George Washington Browne. Education continued to demand his attention and from 1914 he contributed professionally to the Edinburgh College of Art's Design Section. A life-long passion for Italy continued in these years of dwindling commissions as indicated by Kinross's extensive investigations into Michelangelo's Bruges Madonna.

After the War, Kinross's practice revived with a short phase of War Memorial commissions. He figured on a shortlist for the National War Memorial. A breakdown in 1920 caused by the sudden surge in the availability of work revealed the degree of his financial difficulties and led to a relatively brief partnership with James Inch Morrison. Born in 1878, Morrison was articled to W H Grey of Edinburgh in 1893 and attended Heriot-Watt College. He may have spent some time in London at the South Kensington Schools as he obtained first class certificates from there in various subjects. At the end of his apprenticeship he joined first Dunn & Findlay and then Cooper & Taylor as an assistant. After some years he moved to Inverness as chief assistant to William Laidlaw Carruthers. At some point before 1907 he travelled in France, Belgium and Holland, spending seven periods of three to six weeks there. In that same year he commenced independent practice at 21 York Place sharing an office with James Alexander Arnott. He described himself in his Licentiateship Paper as 'joint architect' with Arnott for the work on Gorgie Baptist Church and Charlotte Baptist Chapel which they won in competition. He was admitted LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911. A formal partnership with Arnott seems to have been intended, but in 1910-11 Ernest Auldjo Jamieson bought the Sydney Mitchell practice and invited Arnott to join him. Morrison thereafter practised alone until being taken into partnership by Kinross in 1920.

The merged practices took the title of Kinross & Morrison. Their main business was war memorial work and when that tailed off and Kinross became more antique dealer than architect the partnership was dissolved, Morrison resuming practice as sole partner in 1923. Kinross went on to take an active interest in the dominant field of post-War housing.

(Research by D C Mays)

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate   

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 2James Inch Morrison19201923Partner 
Item 2 of 2John Kinross19201923Partner 

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 21921Norwich Union Life Assurance Office  EdinburghScotlandRebuilt the ground and first floors for Norwich Union
Item 2 of 21922Premises for Messrs Gairn, Motor Engineers  EdinburghScotland 


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.