Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Despenser Spencely
Born: 5 October 1939
Bio Notes: John Despenser Spencely was born on 5 October 1939. He studied for the degree of MA at Cambridge University from 1959-62 and for the degree of BArch at Edinburgh University from 1962-64.

After graduation he worked as an assistant to the site agent at Crudens Ltd but moved after a year to become an assistant with Alan Reiach Eric Hall & Partners. The year 1966-67 was spent at the Architectural Association Department of Planning and Urban Design but transferred at the end of his first year there to Edinburgh College of Art and studied part-time for the diploma in town planning. He made this move because he had been invited to return to Reiach and Hall to help with the Heriot-Watt University Development Plan. He remained with the practice and in 1975 he was promoted to the position of associate and in 1977 became a partner where he remained until 1999.

As partner with Reiach & Hall he directed the design teams and oversaw the administration of building contracts for projects ranging in value from £50,000 to £30,000,000.

Spencely later trained in English and Scottish arbitration practice and as a mediator. In 1985 he founded the Buildings Investigation Centre and became its director. In 1991 he became chairman of the Centre and in the same year became chairman of Reiach & Hall. After his retirement from the latter position he became an independent consultant but remained chairman of the Investigation Centre until 2004. From 1985 he dealt with over 500 cases as arbitrator, adjudicator, technical adviser and expert witness in the United Kingdom and overseas. He dealt with disputes with values of up £290M in which a wide range of individuals from all sectors of the construction industry were involved. He acted as adviser to the Central Legal Office, the Scottish Health Service on adjudication and on contract disputes and as adviser on adjudication to the Building Directorate, Scottih Executive. He also tutored on adjudication courses for CIArb, RIAS and RICS.

He was a Fellow of the RTPI and Fellow of the CIArb. He was admitted ARIBA in 1966 He joined the Reiach & Hall practice in 1978. He became senior partner and chairman from 1991. He was apointed CBE in 2002.

Through his career Spencely held a wide range of public appointments which included non-executive director of Communities Scotland, member of the Scottish Executive Housing Imrpovement Task Force and member of hte Scottish Advisory Committee in Arbitration to name but three. He also taught courses on contract and professional practice, arbitration, adjudication and project management for students, qualified professionals and lawyers. He was Visiting Professor at Napier University and acted as external examiner in Scotland and Ireland. He chaired and served as a member of a large number of committees relating to the profession: member of the Architects Registration Board, Chairman of the RIBA President's Committee on Arbitration, Chairman of the Scottish branch of CIArb, National Assessor RIBA Awards and Civic Trust Awards and numerous others. He headed up the enquiry on the Holyrood Scottish Parliament in 2002 which was published as the Spencely Report.

In his spare time Spencely enjoys sailing and is a member of the Royal Ocean Racing Club. For some time he was a volunteer driver for St Columba's Hospice. He has been the Hon Treasurer and Hon Secretary of the Royal Forth Yacht Club and in 2011 he was Company Secretary of Edinburgh Marina Ltd and a director of Granton Dredging Ltd. In 2014 he reports that he has 'developed a career as a journeyman letter carver in wood, stone and slate and as a maker of toys for grandchildren and everyone else's ditto. Keeps me off the streets!'

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3Reiach Hall Blyth (Iran)  Partner 
Item 2 of 3Reiach & Hall1978 Partner 
Item 3 of 3Reiach & Hall1 May 1991 Senior PartnerSucceeded Stuart Renton as Chairman of Reiach & Hall.

Buildings and Designs

This 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 131968Heriot-Watt University, Riccarton CampusRiccarton Midlothian Worked on the development plan
Item 2 of 131970sHM Naval DockyardRosyth FifeScotlandDevelopment plan
Item 3 of 131976Borders General HospitalMelrose RoxburghshireScotlandDirected design team and administered contracts
Item 4 of 131977British Steel Company Imperial Works officesRochsolloch, Airdrie LanarkshireScotland 
Item 5 of 13Late 1970sForres AcademyForres MorayshireScotlandSwimming pool
Item 6 of 131980sHeriot-Watt University, Department of BuildingRiccarton MidlothianScotlandDirected design team and administration of project
Item 7 of 131981Craigleith House  EdinburghScotlandFurther development
Item 8 of 131981Fouldes HousePencaitland East LothianScotlandExtension
Item 9 of 131981St Enoch Centre  GlasgowScotland 
Item 10 of 131980s or 1990s2,500 new and rehabilitated houses for SSHA    Directed design team and administration of contracts
Item 11 of 131990Life Association of Scotland  EdinburghScotlandDirected design team and administration of buildings contracts
Item 12 of 131992Lorn and Islands District General HospitalOban ArgyllScotland 
Item 13 of 131997Stirling Centre for Further EducationStirling StirlingshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 2Bailey, Rebecca M1996Scottish architects' papers: a source book Edinburgh: The Rutland Pressp135
Item 2 of 2RIBA1987RIBA Directory of Members 1987   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1RIAS NewsletterJune 1991v2, no10  

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Courtesy of Mr John SpencelyInformation sent via 'Contact Us' on website Sent November 2014.
Item 2 of 2RIAS/HS projectRecorded interveiw with Neil Baxter  


© All rights reserved. İand courtesy of RIAS 

© All rights reserved. İand courtesy of RIAS