Basic Biographical Details

Name: Robert James Naismith
Designation: Architect
Born: 4 March 1916
Died: 9 June 2004
Bio Notes: Robert James Naismith was born on 4 March 1916, the son of Robert James Sinclair Naismith, funeral director, and his wife Ann Smith. In January 1935 he commenced the part-time course at the School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art whilst serving his articles with J & F Johnston of Leith. He remained there until September 1939. In October of that year he commenced the full-time 2-year diploma course at the College in Edinburgh and was awarded the RIBA Archibald Dawnay Scholarship and Andrew Grant Maintenance Scholarship. The following year he was awarded the RIAS Rutland prize, in 1941 2nd place in the Rowand Anderson Studentship and the Andrew Grant Town Planning Scholarship (£120). In June 1941 he passed the final diploma exam. He was elected ARIBA on 21 October 1941, his proposers being James Stewart Johnston, Frank Charles Mears and Leslie Grahame Thomson.

In the early 1940s Naismith became an assistant in the practice of Sir Frank Mears working alongside Horace Arthur Rendel Govan. In 1945 he was appointed to the post of Burgh Architect of Penicuik and subsequently Burgh Architect of Dalkeith, posts which he retained for 30 years. He also acted as Planning Consultant and Architect to the Burghs of Perth, Tranent, Inverness, Inverkeithing, Lanark, Hawick, Johnstone, Stirling and Selkirk as well as to the Cities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. Realisation of such works through urban renewal, expansion and building projects continued beyond Local Government reorganisation. In 1954-56 he acted as assessor in the architectural competition for the redevelopment of central Perth. Along with other private and commercial work he undertook housing, civic buildings, churches, cultural and leisure centres, commercial and industrial complexes and won many awards.

Shortly before his death in 1953 Sir Frank Mears took Naismith and Rendel Govan into partnership, the name becoming Sir Frank Mears & Partners. In 1954 Naismith was elected ARIAS and in 1965 FRIBA his proposers being Alexander Esme Gordon, William Gordon Dey and John Denoon Carnegie.

In his spare time Naismith served on the EAA and RIAS Councils, was an expert witness in Public Enquiries, was actively involved with the Cockburn Association and Scottish Georgian Society (now the Architectural Heritage Society of Scotland) and was a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries. He travelled widely and studied painting and design in Europe, North Africa, North America, Russia and the Far East.

Naismith was always a hands-on architect, enjoying designing and drawing but at the same time retaining an in-depth knowledge of professional practice on which he lectured at Edinburgh College of Art.

In his later years he devoted much time to the study of Scottish rural buildings, culminating in a National Research Study for the Countryside Commission of Scotland and later published as ‘Buildings of the Scottish Countryside’. After his retirement in 1986 he published a second book which had been begun by Rendel Govan, who had retired by 1979, entitled ‘The Story of Scotland’s Towns’.

Naismith died at Murrayfield House, Murrayfield Avenue on 9 June 2004. He never married. He had bequeathed his flat in Ramsay Garden – once the home of Sir Patrick Geddes – to the National Trust for Scotland in 2000.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 614, Ramsay Garden, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate   
Item 2 of 6Murrayfield House/66, Murrayfield Avenue, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate 2004 
Item 3 of 6249, Great Junction Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate(?)1950 *  
Item 4 of 6Municipal Buildings, Bog Road, Midlothian, ScotlandBusiness24 May 1957 Address given in Builder - perhaps because working for Local Authority?
Item 5 of 646, Northumberland Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1965 *  
Item 6 of 61, Summerside Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1965 *  

* 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 3J & F Johnston1935 Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3(Sir) Frank Charles MearsEarly 1940s Assistant 
Item 3 of 3(Sir) Frank Mears & PartnersBefore 1953After 1975Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6John Denoon CarnegieMid 1965For Fellowship
Item 2 of 6William Gordon DeyMid 1965For Fellowship
Item 3 of 6Alexander Esmé Gordon (or Esmé Gordon)Mid 1965For Fellowship
Item 4 of 6James Stewart Johnston21 October 1941For Associateship
Item 5 of 6(Sir) Frank Charles Mears21 October 1941For Associateship
Item 6 of 6Leslie Grahame Thomson (or Leslie Grahame-Thomson; later Leslie Grahame MacDougall)21 October 1941For 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 49 Hunterston Nuclear Power StationHunterston AyrshireScotlandControl Tower
Item 2 of 491945Housing, north end of Pentland Terrace Penicuik MidlothianScotland 
Item 3 of 491947Housing to E of Pentland TerracePenicuik MidlothianScotland 
Item 4 of 491950Miller's Foundry  EdinburghScotlandArchitect for additions and alterations
Item 5 of 491950West Princes Street Gardens, Royal Scots Memorial  EdinburghScotland 
Item 6 of 491951Second Church of Christ Scientist  EdinburghScotland 
Item 7 of 491952Housing and Coronation Clock Tower, John StreetPenicuik MidlothianScotland 
Item 8 of 49195370-78 Baker StreetStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 9 of 491954Maxton CourtDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 10 of 491954Redevelopment of St Andrew Street (formerly Back Street)Dalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 11 of 4919551, 3, 10 and 21 Broad StreetStirling StirlingshireScotlandCompletion
Item 12 of 491956Tenement, High StreetDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 13 of 4924 May 1957Houses at Tait Drive and ShottsdownPenicuik  Scotlandper Builder p973
Item 14 of 491959Group of tenements, Hunt's CloseDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 15 of 491960sCornbank EstatePenicuik MidlothianScotland 
Item 16 of 491960Clydebank Core Development Area, Radnor ParkClydebank DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 17 of 491961Primary SchoolHilton of Cadboll Ross and CromartyScotland 
Item 18 of 491961White Horse Close  EdinburghScotlandRedevelopment
Item 19 of 491962Dalkeith Central Area redevelopmentDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 20 of 491963Group of tenements, Hunt's CloseDalkeith MidlothianScotlandSecond block
Item 21 of 491963HousingInverkeithing Fife  
Item 22 of 491963Housing for Dalkeith Town CouncilDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 23 of 491963Housing for East Lothian County CouncilTranent East LothianScotland 
Item 24 of 491963Housing for East Lothian County CouncilOrmiston East LothianScotland 
Item 25 of 491964Community Centre, WoodburnDalkeith MidlothianScotlandNew community centre
Item 26 of 491964Dalnottar CrematoriumClydebank DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 27 of 491964Whitehorse Close (Bishop Paterson's House)  EdinburghScotlandRestoration
Item 28 of 491965Selkirk Central redevelopmentSelkirk SelkirkshireScotland 
Item 29 of 491966Glasgow Public Halls  GlasgowScotlandReconstructed. Mitchell library extended and halls restored. Only minor role - Rendel Govan in charge.
Item 30 of 4919676 Salisbury Road  EdinburghScotlandNew hall and chapel
Item 31 of 491967Wester Hailes developmentWester Hailes EdinburghScotlandPartner in charge
Item 32 of 491968Public LibraryInverkeithing FifeScotland 
Item 33 of 491969Auchindrain Farm TownshipInveraray (near) ArgyllScotlandRestoration. Partner.
Item 34 of 491970sCambuslang Recovery areaCambuslang LanarkshireScotland 
Item 35 of 491970sFred Olsen Ltd buildings   Scotland 
Item 36 of 491970sHealth Centres for Lothian Health Board  LothianScotland 
Item 37 of 491970sShipyard for Lewis Offshore   Scotland 
Item 38 of 491970sSt Enoch Redevelopment  GlasgowScotland 
Item 39 of 491970sSwimming pool  East LothianScotland 
Item 40 of 491970Kilbucho PlacePeebles PeeblesshireScotlandRestoration, conservation and repair.
Item 41 of 491972Robertson's Court  EdinburghScotlandBack side of court restored
Item 42 of 49After 1975Development planThurso CaithnessScotland 
Item 43 of 49After 1975Dornoch development planDornoch SutherlandScotland 
Item 44 of 49Before 1975Houses and flats Johnstone RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 45 of 49Before 1975Library and Arts CentreDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 46 of 491979Ore Terminal, HunterstonHunterston AyrshireScotland 
Item 47 of 491979St Peter's Episcopal Church  EdinburghScotlandRepairs and restoration. Partner
Item 48 of 491980Old ChurchDalkeith MidlothianScotlandRepairs. Partner in charge.
Item 49 of 491981Buildings, East High Street and Edinburgh RoadDalkeith MidlothianScotlandRestoration and repairs. Partner.


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp9 Image of Baker Street redevelopment
p20 Hunterston nuclear power station
p22 Dalkeith Town Centre Redevelopment
Item 2 of 3Glendinning, Miles and Muthesius, Stefan1994Tower Block: Modern Public Housing in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland Yale University Press: New Haven and Londonp381, Gazetteer 2. Baker Street
Item 3 of 3RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 6Builder7 April 1950  p472
Item 2 of 6Builder24 May 1957  p973
Item 3 of 6Builder18 August 1961  'Civic Trust Design Awards, 1960 - Results of Competitions in the County Boroughs, The Awards, Scotland' pp304-305 - served as assessor for Kilmarnock projects
Item 4 of 6Builder11 September 1964  p571
Item 5 of 6Official Architecture and PlanningApril 1954  p160-2 Baker Street
Item 6 of 6RIAS Chartered Architect2003Spring  

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2RIAS, Rutland SquareRecords of membership  
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A 7924 F 44, (Combined box 95). F 5736 (Combined box 97)


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© All rights reserved. © The Scotsman Publications Ltd. Licensor