© All rights reserved. Bell at Jarlshof. Courtesy of Bell © All rights reserved. Bell in 1945.  Courtesy of Bell © All rights reserved. Drawing of Melrose by Bell.  Courtesy of Bell © All rights reserved. Plane that took Bell to Shetland. Courtesy of Bell 

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Raymond Bell
Designation: Architect
Born: 11 January 1909
Died: 3 November 1977
Bio Notes: John Raymond Bell (known as Jack) was born on 11 January 1909, the son of George Henry Bell of Paisley and Sarah Cunningham Keane. George Henry Bell was a director of the family firm A Bell & Sons, dyers and cleaners of Paisley. At the time of Jack Bell’s birth his parents were residing in Slateford, Midlothian.

Jack Bell lived his early years in Edinburgh and then attended St Joseph’s College, Dumfries. He began his apprenticeship in the office of Donald MacDonald Mackie of Edinburgh in 1928, transferring to that of Leadbetter, Fairley and Reid in 1930. From 1934 to 1938 he studied for the diploma Course in architecture at Edinburgh College of Art, the last eighteen months of which he was also employed in HM Office of Works. He was granted exemption from the final exam in 1938. He was admitted ARIBA on 6 February 1939, his proposers being Frank Charles Mears, Robert Stirling Reid and John Jerdan. He was also a member of the Edinburgh Architectural Association.

At HM Office of Works in the Ancient Monuments Department, 122 George Street, Edinburgh he was employed as a Junior Architectural Assistant by John Wilson Paterson, the Principal Architect and Surveyor for Scotland. He was involved in the preparation of surveys of a number of historic buildings including Melrose Abbey and the work enabled him to study all periods of architectural detail at close range.

He worked in Orkney at Aikerness Broch and in Shetland at Jarlshof, Sumburgh under HM Inspector of Ancient Monuments, James Smith Richardson and Dr Alexander O Curle of the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland. This was an important time for the Commission, as these sites were being fully excavated. Bell’s work in Orkney included the supervision of the demolition and re-erection, on a new site, of the Pictish ‘Clover House’ discovered at Aikerness. (JRB can be seen on site at Jarlshof in the attached picture, together with his photo of the aeroplane in which he travelled to Shetland).

During the WWII he worked on new buildings and on alterations to existing buildings in preparation for Government wartime use. In 1942 he was posted to Cambridge where he continued this war work. He met Brenda (Bunty) Dorothy Milligan, herself a student of architecture, in the Cambridge drawing office. They were married on 5 November 1945.

After the war he continued working for the Ministry of Works, later to become the Ministry of Public Building and Works and was posted in Wrexham, Cardiff and from 1952 in Bristol. He continued with the Ministry until his retirement in 1969. He ended his membership of RIBA in 1973 after his retirement.

John Raymond Bell was an able watercolourist and photographer. Ancient architecture and church architecture remained a lifelong interest. He loved music and enjoyed singing; he had a fine light tenor voice. He died in Bristol on 3 November 1977 aged 68. Brenda died in 1997 aged 81 years. He and Brenda are survived by their 3 children: Mary, Michael and Elizabeth, who all enjoy having their father’s work on the walls of their homes. Mary, Michael and Elizabeth are all involved in the creative arts. Michael designs sculpture and makes enamels, Mary and Elizabeth paint in watercolour and Elizabeth has worked extensively as a goldsmith and jeweller.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5Kingsknowe House, Slateford, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1909  
Item 2 of 5c/o Hughes/Newlands, Kingston Road, Bishopton, Renfrewshire, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1938After 1939 
Item 3 of 5Glencraig/18, Windsor Avenue, Radyr, Cardiff (near), WalesPrivate(?)1947 *1953 
Item 4 of 5Ardmore/13, Waterford Road, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, Somerset, EnglandPrivate/business(?)1953 *1969 
Item 5 of 54, Cote House Lane, Westbury-on-Trym, Bristol, EnglandPrivate19691977 

* earliest date known from documented sources.


Employment and Training

Employers

The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3Donald MacDonald Mackie19281930Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3Leadbetter, Fairley & Reid19301933Apprentice 
Item 3 of 3H M Office of Works (later Ministry of Works, Department of the Environment and Property Services Agency)1936After 1938AssistantIn Edinburgh office, for a period of 18 months

RIBA

RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3John Jerdan6 February 1939for Associateship
Item 2 of 3(Sir) Frank Charles Mears6 February 1939for Associateship
Item 3 of 3Robert Stirling Reid6 February 1939for Associateship

References

Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
 Author(s)DateTitlePartPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3RIBA1939The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 2 of 3RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 3 of 3RIBA1957The RIBA Kalendar 1957-1958 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 2Courtesy of Bell's daughters and son.Information sent via 'Contact Us' on website Sent December 2014
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no7040 (combined box 171)

Images

© All rights reserved. Bell at Jarlshof. Courtesy of Bell 

© All rights reserved. Bell at Jarlshof. Courtesy of Bell's family.

© All rights reserved. Bell in 1945.  Courtesy of Bell 

© All rights reserved. Bell in 1945. Courtesy of Bell's family.

© All rights reserved. Drawing of Melrose by Bell.  Courtesy of Bell 

© All rights reserved. Drawing of Melrose by Bell. Courtesy of Bell's family.

© All rights reserved. Plane that took Bell to Shetland. Courtesy of Bell 

© All rights reserved. Plane that took Bell to Shetland. Courtesy of Bell's family.