Basic Biographical Details

Name: Walter Fairbairn
Born: 1877
Bio Notes: Walter Fairbairn was born in 1877, educated at George Watson's College, and articled to William Hamilton Beattie in 1892. He left Beattie in 1896 to become an assistant in the offices of Frank Worthington Simon (1896-97), Robert Rowand Anderson (1897-99) and Leadbetter and Fairley (1899-1901) before returning to Simon and Anderson in the merged practice of Anderson, Simon & Crawford in 1901. During that period he had attended Simon's classes at the School of Applied Art and those of Heriot-Watt College, winning the Tite prize in 1901. In 1903, Fairbairn and George Donaldson Macniven were taken into partnership by Alfred Greig, who had also trained with Frank Worthington Simon and Rowand Anderson and was principal teacher of architecture at the School of Applied Art at that time.

After the School of Applied Art merged as part of Edinburgh College of Art in 1906, Greig's appointment came to an end in 1908, but Fairbairn secured a part-time appointment at Edinburgh College of Art and Lauder Technical School in Dunfermline. The practice was based at 31 York Place and seems to have specialised in small-scale competitions, particularly for public libraries, but they also won that for a model United Free church for the Highlands, which brought a considerable number of commissions for small churches in that area. All three architects were admitted LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911 with the same proposers - John Wilson, James Bow Dunn and Thomas Duncan Rhind.

The partnership continued until the First World War when Macniven withdrew to enter government service. He married Maud Grace Hendry in 1922 and became in succession Principal Architect and Housing Commissioner for the Scottish Board of Health, Depute Chief Architect at the Department of Health for Scotland and later Chief Architect. He died in 1949.

On Macniven's withdrawal the partnership became Greig & Fairbairn and was fortunate in securing a share of the Scottish National Housing Company's Admiralty Dockyard Garden City at Rosyth in 1915, a development planned and partly designed by Alfred Hugh Mottram from Sir Raymond Unwin's office, which came to an end with the closure of the dockyard in 1925. Thereafter the partnership was dissolved; Fairbairn continued to specialise in housing work, becoming Chief Technical Officer of the Scottish Special Housing Association in 1937-39.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 431, York Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1903c. 1915 
Item 2 of 49, Spence Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1903c. 1909 
Item 3 of 458, Duddingston Park, Portobello, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1910 From 1910 onwards
Item 4 of 4Glenkevock, Lasswade, Midlothian, ScotlandPrivate/business(?)1930 or 1931 *1939 or 40A0s(?) 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 8William Hamilton Beattie18921896Apprentice 
Item 2 of 8Frank Lewis Worthington Simon18961897Assistant 
Item 3 of 8Wardrop & Anderson18971899Assistant 
Item 4 of 8Leadbetter & Fairley18991901Assistant 
Item 5 of 8Anderson Simon & Crawford19011902Chief Assistant 
Item 6 of 8Greig, Fairbairn & Macniven1903April 1915Partner 
Item 7 of 8Greig & Fairbairn19141925Partner 
Item 8 of 8Scottish Special Housing Association (SSHA)19371939 Chief Technical Officer


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3James Bow Dunn20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 2 of 3(Sir) Thomas Duncan Rhind20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 3 of 3John Watson20 July 1911for Licentiateship

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 251903Carnegie Public LibraryMotherwell LanarkshireScotlandWon competition and was commissioned
Item 2 of 251903Design submitted for Tite Prize competition     
Item 3 of 25After 1903Alvie UF ChurchAlvie Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 4 of 25After 1903Aultbea UF ChurchAultbea Ross and CromartyScotlandWith executant architects Mackenzie & MacDonald
Item 5 of 25After 1903Bonnyrigg Infant SchoolBonnyrigg MidlothianScotland 
Item 6 of 25After 1903Glenurquhart UF ChurchGlenurquhart Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 7 of 25After 1903Kinloch UF ChurchKinlochLewisRoss and CromartyScotland 
Item 8 of 25After 1903Rosehall UF ChurchRosehall SutherlandScotland 
Item 9 of 25After 1903UF ChurchMuir of Ord Ross and CromartyScotland 
Item 10 of 251905Prestonpans Public LibraryPrestonpans East LothianScotlandCompetition design, not selected
Item 11 of 251905Whitehaven Public LibraryWhitehaven CumberlandEnglandWon open competition to secure job
Item 12 of 251906Kippenross HouseDunblane StirlingshireScotlandStaircase
Item 13 of 251907Maxton Public LibraryMaxton RoxburghshireScotland 
Item 14 of 251907Strathy Lochs UF Church and manseStrathy Lochs SutherlandScotlandWith Sinclair MacDonald as executant architect
Item 15 of 251908Bonnyrigg Public LibraryBonnyrigg MidlothianScotlandWon open competition to secure job
Item 16 of 251909Bruan UF ChurchBruan CaithnessScotlandWith Sinclair MacDonald as executant architect
Item 17 of 251909Cockpen Parish Council OfficesBonnyrigg MidlothianScotland 
Item 18 of 251909Latheron UF ChurchLatheron CaithnessScotland 
Item 19 of 251909Rogart UF ChurchRogart SutherlandScotland 
Item 20 of 251909UF ChurchBrora SutherlandScotland 
Item 21 of 251910Tobermory UF ChurchTobermoryMullArgyllScotland 
Item 22 of 25Before 1914Loganbank HouseGlencorse MidlothianScotlandInternal reconstruction and decoration
Item 23 of 251915Rosyth Garden City, one hundred and fifty housesRosyth FifeScotlandWon competition to secure job
Item 24 of 251916(?)ArdtaraigDunoon (near) ArgyllScotlandRemodelling
Item 25 of 251918(?)Rosyth Garden City developmentRosyth FifeScotlandWorked on the scheme while Mottram was in the army


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 2Laperriere, Charles Baile de (ed.)1991The Royal Scottish Academy Exhibitors 1826-1990   
Item 2 of 2Who's Who in Architecture1914    

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v17 no1256