Basic Biographical Details

Name: Peter Whiston & Partners
Designation: Architectural practice
Bio Notes: Peter Rice Whiston was born in Leith on 19 October 1912, the son of Thomas Vincent Whiston, electrical engineer, and his Irish wife Maria Barrett. The strict Roman Catholic family lived in a Leith tenement with a shared WC and no bathroom, and Peter and his six siblings were encouraged to work hard in order to ‘get on’ in life, which they all duly did. Peter was articled to Ebenezer James MacRae, Edinburgh City Architect for five years from October 1930, attending morning classes at the School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art. On completion of his apprenticeship he studied full-time for a further two years, obtaining his diploma in June 1937. He was awarded the RIBA Recognised Schools Silver Medal in that year. During this period he spent one month in Aberdeen and Norway and three weeks in Sweden in 1936, and one month in Paris in 1937. He was admitted ARIBA on 10 January 1938, his proposers being MacRae, Reginald Fairlie and William James Walker Todd. By that time he had been made a partner in Todd's firm of Dick Peddie, Todd & Jamieson, at an unusually early stage in his career. MacRae wrote of Whiston in his supporting statement: ‘he had a brilliant course at the School of Architecture in the College of Art, and has taken every opportunity of furthering his knowledge by travel and study.' Whiston was also an Associate of the Edinburgh Architectural Association, and in 1939 he was elected ARIAS.

During the Second World War he served with the Royal Engineers in India, where he was involved with the destruction of bridges to prevent invasion from the east, and rose to the rank of Captain. After the cease of hostilities in 1946 he was appointed Chief Architect to the Scottish Special Housing Association, building homes for returning servicemen.

Disapproving of moves towards high-rise construction, he left the SSHA in 1950 to establish a private practice that focused principally on ecclesiastical architecture, both Roman Catholic and Church of Scotland. He balanced post-war modernism with a sense of Scottish restraint, and used traditional materials including local stone, harling, pitch pine and cobbles recycled from Edinburgh streets. His church interiors are white and largely unadorned, save for the occasional sculpture specially commissioned from Whiston’s ECA contemporaries. Perhaps his most significant building is Sancta Maria Abbey at Nunraw, a Cistercian monastery built by the monks and volunteer builders to his designs. It was this building that earned him his appointment as a Knight of St Gregory the Great in 1969. By this time his practice appears to have been called Peter Rice & Partners.

Concurrently with his private practice, he was a Senior Lecturer at the ECA, and directed its first postgraduate course in Environmental Conservation. He also served on many ‘hanging’ committees for the Royal Scottish Academy.

He retired in 1977 and resigned his RIBA membership in July 1980, at which time he was living at Castle Moffat, Garvald, Haddington, East Lothian.

Although self-critical and rather shy, Whiston was a stimulating conversationalist with those close to him. He was married twice, first to Agnes Campbell, a schoolteacher, and second to Kathleen (‘Kaye’) Anne Moran Parker, a state-registered nurse. His second marriage produced one son and four daughters, who were a great source of happiness and pride to the couple.

Whiston died at the Royal Infirmary, Edinburgh on 24 January 1999 at which time he was a retired FRIAS. His stepdaughter registered his death, his wife having predeceased him in 1983.

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 1Peter Rice Whiston1967 * Partner 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 11967St Anthony's ChurchHigh Burnside, Rutherglen LanarkshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 1Williamson, Riches, Higgs1990Glasgow (The Buildings of Scotland)  p493