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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Thomas ('Tom') Riddell Spaven
Designation: Architect
Born: 26 September 1920
Died: 30 October 2011
Bio Notes: Thomas ('Tom') Riddell Spaven was born in Edinburgh on 26 November 1920, the son of Edward Francis Spaven, bank teller, and his wife Martha Nellie Gray Stavert. He enrolled on the full-time architecture course at Edinburgh College of Art in October 1938, although his studies were interrupted by war service from August 1939 to May 1946. He passed his intermediate exam in December 1946 and his final exam in June 1948, both at the School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art. In the summer of 1947 he spent a month in Norway and Sweden on a travelling scholarship. He was admitted ARIBA in December 1948, his proposers being William Innes Thomson, John Ross McKay and Leslie Grahame Thomson.

From July 1948 to December 1949, Spaven was employed as architectural assistant for Professor J S Allen at the University of Newcastle, while between January 1950 and March 1952 he was employed as senior architectural assistant for Reiach & Cowan, working on projects such as East Kilbride housing and the East of Scotland Agricultural College, for which he was chief draughtsman. He then worked in the National Coal Board architects' department (Scottish Division) from April 1952 until June 1953. From December 1952, on Alan Reiach's suggestion, Spaven began working in his spare time as the first employee of Robert Matthew's newly established private practice, assisting with the Turnhouse Airport project, and only leaving the National Coal Board to work full time for Matthew as the job progressed.

In 1961, Spaven was taken into partnership with Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners. As the practice expanded, Spaven felt himself increasingly sidelined into an administrator-helper role. However, from 1964, when Kenneth Graham and John Richards were also made partners, Spaven 'settled contentedly' into a general role of office manager, acting as the partner in charge of the Edinburgh office while Robert Matthew was absent and with responsibility for job contract management, client agreements, partnership agreements and all the legal matters in the Edinburgh office. While large projects tended to be delegated to Graham and Richards, Spaven nonetheless continued to oversee many of the practice's programs, including hospitals such as Ninewells Teaching Hospital and Medical School and a series of thermal power stations for the South of Scotland Electricity Board. He was admitted FRIBA in 1968, his proposers being Robert Matthew, John Richards and Kenneth Graham. In the 1970s, Spaven was responsible for organising RMJM projects in Libya, having been stationed in the Western Desert during the war.

Following the death of Robert Matthew in 1975, Spaven became increasingly disillusioned with the practice: 'when Robert died, quite simply, something went out of my life. I must have enjoyed it all - otherwise I wouldn't have felt so sorry at his demise. After that - what was there ahead of me? My personal satisfaction had more or less disappeared, with all the endless meetings.' Spaven left RMJM in the late 1970s. In the 1979 RIBA directories Spaven appears to have been practising on his own.

Spaven died on 30 October 2011. His lost his wife in a car accident in 2010. He is survived by his son and his daughter.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 83, Devonshire Terrace, Newcastle, EnglandBusiness19481949 
Item 2 of 86, West Castle Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1948  
Item 3 of 826, Fountainhall Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1950 *After 1960 
Item 4 of 81, Eglinton Crescent, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness19521953 
Item 5 of 810, Heriot Row, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1968After 1970 
Item 6 of 8House 1/Marley Knowe, North Berwick, East Lothian, ScotlandPrivate1979 *  
Item 7 of 89A, St Colme Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business(?)1981  
Item 8 of 818, Damdale, Peebles, Peeblesshire, ScotlandPrivate1987  

* 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 5Reiach & Cowan1950(?)1952Architect 
Item 2 of 5National Coal Board, Scottish Division19531954Architect 
Item 3 of 5Robert Hogg MatthewBefore 1953Late 1956Senior Assistant 
Item 4 of 5Robert Matthew Johnson-Marshall (RMJM)19561961Senior Assistant(?) 
Item 5 of 5Robert Matthew, Johnson-Marshall & Partners (RMJM)1961 Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6Kenneth Edward Graham17 July 1968For Fellowship
Item 2 of 6Leslie Grahame-Thomson & Associates14 December 1948For Associateship
Item 3 of 6Robert Hogg Matthew14 December 1968For Fellowship
Item 4 of 6John Ross McKay14 December 1948For Associateship
Item 5 of 6John Deacon Richards17 July 1968For Fellowship
Item 6 of 6William Innes Thomson14 December 1948For 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 39 Guitar FactoryMuir of Ord Ross & CromartyScotland 
Item 2 of 39(?)Ninewells Hospital and Medical School  DundeeScotlandPartner-in-charge
Item 3 of 391950(?)Shops and houses, WhitemossEast Kilbride LanarkshireScotlandIn conjunction with Alan Reiach
Item 4 of 391950(?)University of Edinburgh, King's Buildings, Department of Agriculture  EdinburghScotlandAs chief draughtsman for Reiach.
Item 5 of 391952Local Centre, WhitemossEast Kilbride LanarkshireScotlandNoted as assistant in charge
Item 6 of 391952Turnhouse Airport  EdinburghScotland 
Item 7 of 391954Cashlie Hydro-Electric Power StationGlen Lochay PerthshireScotlandGenerating Station
Item 8 of 391954Kincardine Power StationKincardine-on-Forth FifeScotland 
Item 9 of 391954Lubreoch Power StationInnerwick, Glen Lyon PerthshireScotlandGenerating station
Item 10 of 391955Edinburgh Royal Infirmary  EdinburghScotlandRedevelopment- phase I
Item 11 of 391955New Zealand House  LondonEngland 
Item 12 of 391957Barshare Housing and comprehensive town planCumnock and Holmhead Burgh AyrshireScotland 
Item 13 of 391957Firrhill Secondary SchoolFirrhill EdinburghScotland 
Item 14 of 391957(?)Lochay (Killin) Power StationGlen Lochay PerthshireScotland 
Item 15 of 391957University of Aberdeen, Crombie Hall of Residence  AberdeenScotland 
Item 16 of 391958Hutchesontown / Gorbals Area B multi-storey flats and housing  GlasgowScotlandActed as design consultant for development of scheme.
Item 17 of 391960sTurnhouse Airport  EdinburghScotlandExtensions
Item 18 of 391960College of Nautical Studies  GlasgowScotlandProbably partner in charge (according to Vernon Lee)
Item 19 of 39c. 1960University of Aberdeen, Johnston Hall of Residence  AberdeenScotland 
Item 20 of 391962(?)Pilgrim Street development  Newcastle-upon-TyneEngland 
Item 21 of 391962Victoria Street housing developmentDunbar East LothianScotland 
Item 22 of 391964Dunfermline College of Physical Education, EdinburghCramond estate Edinburgh, MidlothianScotlandPartner in charge.
Item 23 of 391964University of Strathclyde, Colville Building (Departments of Civil Engineering and Metallurgy)  GlasgowScotlandWas probably the partner in charge (Vernon Lee)
Item 24 of 391965Aberdeen University Joint Agricultural Building  AberdeenScotland 
Item 25 of 391966University of Stirling, including library and landscapingStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 26 of 391967Hunterston B Nuclear Power Station  AyrshireScotland 
Item 27 of 391970s(?)Newbattle AbbeyNewbattle MidlothianScotlandAlterations for College
Item 28 of 391971British Home Stores  AberdeenScotland 
Item 29 of 391971Industrialised Building Project (IBP) housing projectGurgi Tripoli (near)Libya 
Item 30 of 391971Market, 8-10 Market Street  AberdeenScotland 
Item 31 of 391972Dunfermline College of Physical Education, EdinburghCramond estate Edinburgh, MidlothianScotlandExtension - perhaps also in charge?
Item 32 of 391972Opera House site  EdinburghScotlandScheme for pyramidal opera house
Item 33 of 391975Edinburgh Airport  EdinburghScotlandPartner in charge with John Richards
Item 34 of 391977Aberdeen Airport  AberdeenScotlandProbably involved
Item 35 of 391979Electronics Factory for Burroughs CorporationLivingston West LothianScotland 
Item 36 of 391979International Business Machines (IBM) FactoryGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 37 of 39Before 1979Housing for the Link Housing Association  EdinburghScotland 
Item 38 of 39Before 1979Ski Lodge for Cairngorm Chairlift CompanyAviemore Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 39 of 391984Office for architectural practice, Dean VillageDean Village EdinburghScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 12Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp13 Whitemoss shops and houses East Kilbride
p18-19, p165 Turnhouse Airport;
p18-19, p157, p170 Kincardine Power Station
p26 Hutchesontown B
p28 Ninewells Hospital
Item 2 of 12Glendinning, Miles2008Modern architect: the life and times of Robert Matthew RIBA Publishingp136,155-6,172,233-5,241,243-4,248,287,296,298,300,441-3,483,486,527
Item 3 of 12Glendinning, Miles and Muthesius, Stefan1994Tower Block: Modern Public Housing in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland Yale University Press: New Haven and Londonp169, p228, p368 Hutchesontown Area B
Item 4 of 12RIBA1948The RIBA Kalendar 1948-1949 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 5 of 12RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 6 of 12RIBA1954RIBA Kalendar 1953-54   
Item 7 of 12RIBA1961Kalendar 1960-61   
Item 8 of 12RIBA1970RIBA Directory 1970   
Item 9 of 12RIBA1979Directory of members   
Item 10 of 12RIBA1981Directory of Practices 1981   
Item 11 of 12RIBA1987RIBA Directory of Members 1987   
Item 12 of 12Willis, Peter1977New architecture in Scotland  p7-8, p15-16 Turnhouse Airport
p52-55 University of Stirling
p92-5 Ninewells Hospital

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1RIAS Quarterly2012SpringRoyal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) 

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2National Archives (via Scotlands People)Statutory births  
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no10260, F no6280 (Combined Box 130)


© All rights reserved.  courtesy of RIAS 

© All rights reserved. courtesy of RIAS