Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Watson
Born: 1853 or 1855
Died: Early 1924
Bio Notes: John Watson was born in 1853 (or 1855), the second son of George Watson, cabinet maker and house gurnisher and his wife Agnes Shaw. Thre younger brothers were also architects George Mackie WAtson who remained in Edinburgh and Arthur John Paul Watson and Robert James George Watson who emigrated to Australia. John Watson was articled to Robert Rowand Anderson in November 1869. He left in 1875 to join J & R Ingram of Kilmarnock but returned to Anderson in 1876, remaining with him until 1882. He had a particularly close relationship with Anderson, working on all his major projects of the 1870s and early 1880s. Between 1876 and 1880 Watson spent three months of each year sketching historic Scots architecture, sometimes with Anderson. He sat on the Edinburgh Architectural Association's Sketch Book Committee from at least 1875 and initiated its classes for students, most of which he supervised himself, until their role was taken over by Anderson's School of Applied Art. Watson's younger brother, George Mackie Watson (born 1859), also joined Anderson's office as an articled apprentice probably through his brother's influence and stayed with Anderson even longer, not commencing independent practice until 1899.

In or shortly after 1884 John Watson entered into a partnership with David McArthy (born 1854), their office being at 33 South Castle Street. The practice moved first to 137 George Street c.1889 and then to 25 Frederick Street in 1900. In 1906 the partnership was dissolved, Watson setting up his own office at first at 24 Castle Street and then at 27 Rutland Street where he seems to have remained until at least 1923.

Watson was admitted FRIBA on 3 December 1906; surprisingly his proposers were Hippolyte Jean Blanc, James Macintyre Henry and Alexander Hunter Crawford rather than Anderson. On the reorganisation of Edinburgh College of Art in 1908 he was appointed head of the architecture section, a position he held until his resignation in 1914 at the age of sixty-one.

Of Watson, his pupil Thomas Forbes Maclennan recalled that 'he never seemed to consider for a moment whether a job was paying or not… he would expect from those under him the same unselfish devotion, and he would be surprised and hurt if one preferred to spend a Saturday afternoon at golf to spending it laboriously measuring an ancient building under his careful and scholarly guidance… In competitive work, he frequently had the hardest of luck. While in partnership with McArthy, their design for the SSC Library was placed first, and again their design for Ayr Public Library was placed first but in neither case did the work come their way.'

Watson was Vice-President of the Edinburgh Architectural Association in 1897-1900 and its President 1908-1910. He died in early 1924.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 914, Shandwick Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1882c. 1884 
Item 2 of 933, South Castle Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1884c. 1889 
Item 3 of 910, Grove Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1884 or 1885  
Item 4 of 9Primrose Vill, Davidson's Mains, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1889  
Item 5 of 9137, George Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 18891900 
Item 6 of 925, Frederick Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1900  
Item 7 of 95, Morningside Park, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1903 or 1904c. 1923 
Item 8 of 924, Castle Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1906 *  
Item 9 of 927, Rutland Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1909c. 1924 

* 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 5(Sir) Robert Rowand AndersonNovember 18691874Apprentice 
Item 2 of 5J & R S Ingram18751876Assistant 
Item 3 of 5(Sir) Robert Rowand Anderson18761881Assistant 
Item 4 of 5Anderson & Browne18811882Assistant 
Item 5 of 5McArthy & Watson18841906Partner 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 1Robert Philip ShawDecember 1907 Apprentice 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Hippolyte Jean Blanc3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 2 of 3Alexander Hunter Crawford3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3James Macintyre Henry3 December 1906for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 36Walter Alison3 March 1919for Associateship
Item 2 of 36John Ramsay ArmstrongLate 1916for Associateship
Item 3 of 36Owen Keith Beattie24 June 1912for Licentiateship
Item 4 of 36William Beattie-Brown20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 36James Spalding BennetMid 1921for Associateship
Item 6 of 36Thomas Johnston Beveridge1931for Licentiateship
Item 7 of 36Edward Henry Anthony BlountEarly 1931for Licentiateship
Item 8 of 36Robert Macfarlane Cameron20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 9 of 36David Alexander Crombie20 March 1911for Licentiateship
Item 10 of 36Walter Fairbairn20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 11 of 36Alexander Allan FooteMid 1919for Associateship
Item 12 of 36Alexander Garden ForgieLate 1920 or early 1921for Associateship
Item 13 of 36J Simpson FyfeEarly 1916 or mid 1916for Associateship
Item 14 of 36John Proudfoot Goodsir20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 15 of 36John Peter Dippie GrantEarly 1920for Associateship
Item 16 of 36Alfred Greig20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 17 of 36Alexander Murray Hardie24 June 1912for Licentiateship
Item 18 of 36Thomas Charles HardyLate 1920for Associateship
Item 19 of 36Andrew Duncan KellockMid 1919for Associateship
Item 20 of 36John Scott Lawson3 March 1919for Associateship
Item 21 of 36Alexander Ross Lindsay20 March 1911for Licentiateship
Item 22 of 36George Donaldson Macniven20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 23 of 36Ebenezer James MacRaeLate 1914for Associateship
Item 24 of 36John McIntyreLate 1910for Licentiateship
Item 25 of 36John Galt Mitchell4 July 1910for Licentiateship
Item 26 of 36Alec Nisbet1 March 1920for Associateship
Item 27 of 36John Wilson Paterson4 December 1911for Associateship
Item 28 of 36William PatersonEarly 1914for Associateship
Item 29 of 36Robert Philip ShawJuly 1920For Associateship
Item 30 of 36James Forbes Smithc. February 1911for Licentiateship
Item 31 of 36George Mackie Watson20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 32 of 36George White27 February 1911for Licentiateship
Item 33 of 36George Wilson2 December 1907for Fellowship
Item 34 of 36James WoodMid 1920for Associateship
Item 35 of 36Gordon Lorimer Wright4 July 1910for Licentiateship
Item 36 of 36Frederick Robert Wylie11 March 1947For Fellowship

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 36 Fountainhall  East LothianScotlandRepairs and restoration - date unknown
Item 2 of 36 Tron Church  EdinburghScotlandRepairs and redecoration - date unknown
Item 3 of 36After 1884126 Princes Street  EdinburghScotlandExtension
Item 4 of 36After 1884Craigleith Poorhouse, probationer's pavilionCraigleith EdinburghScotland 
Item 5 of 36After 1884Cramond Parish Church HallCramond EdinburghScotland 
Item 6 of 36After 1884Gorebridge Free ChurchGorebridge MidlothianScotlandInterior decoration
Item 7 of 36After 1884Mission Hall  EdinburghScotland 
Item 8 of 36After 1884Newton DonKelso RoxburghshireScotlandInterior plasterwork; additions; reconstruction of stables
Item 9 of 36After 1884Residence for Mr D M Westland  EdinburghScotland 
Item 10 of 361888Library for Solicitors to the Supreme Courts of Scotland  EdinburghScotlandFirst premiated competition design (entered jointly with George Mackie Watson); James Bow Dunn received commission
Item 11 of 3618891-8 East Fettes Avenue  EdinburghScotland 
Item 12 of 36After 1889The HirselColdstream BerwickshireScotlandAlterations - date unknown
Item 13 of 361891Ayr Public LibraryAyr AyrshireScotlandCompetition design - placed third: apparently initially placed first. Design prepared jointly with George Mackie Watson
Item 14 of 361893St Cuthbert's Parish Church Hall  EdinburghScotlandWon in competition
Item 15 of 361894Nos 1-3 George Pape's Widows' CottagesRoseburn EdinburghScotland 
Item 16 of 361895Gorgie Free Church and HallGorgie EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 36c. 1895RubislawMorningside EdinburghScotland 
Item 18 of 36189626-28 Polwarth Terrace  EdinburghScotland 
Item 19 of 361898Bangour Village AsylumUphall West LothianScotlandWon competition for design of administration block - and awarded first premium, but not the job
Item 20 of 361899Forfar Fever HospitalWhitehills, Forfar AngusScotlandWon competition, but T M Cappon awarded job
Item 21 of 361899Midlothian County Council Buildings  EdinburghScotlandPlaced third in competition (entered jointly with McArthy & Watson)
Item 22 of 361899Tenement, WestgateNorth Berwick East LothianScotland 
Item 23 of 361900Beechmount HouseMurrayfield EdinburghScotlandHouse, lodge, stable and approach road
Item 24 of 361900Falkirk Public LibraryFalkirk StirlingshireScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 25 of 361900St Stephen's UF ChurchComely Bank EdinburghScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 26 of 361901House for Mr DottColinton EdinburghScotland 
Item 27 of 361902(?)1-7 Roseburn Cliff  EdinburghScotland 
Item 28 of 361902Roseburn Cliff gatepiers  EdinburghScotland 
Item 29 of 361903Industrial School for GirlsGilmerton EdinburghScotland 
Item 30 of 361903PinkhillColinton EdinburghScotlandAdditions
Item 31 of 361904Hamilton Municipal Buildings and Public LibraryHamilton LanarkshireScotlandAwarded 2nd prize in competition
Item 32 of 36190527 Wester Coates Avenue  EdinburghScotland 
Item 33 of 361905St Adrian's ChurchAnstruther Easter FifeScotlandInternal refit, including elaborate scheme of redecoration and refurnishing
Item 34 of 361907Blackhall Primary School  EdinburghScotlandWon in competition
Item 35 of 361911Women's InstituteDunfermline FifeScotlandPlaced second in competition
Item 36 of 36Before 1914Hall and Museum  RangoonBurmaFirst premiated competition design


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 1Who's Who in Architecture1914    

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builder21 March 1924v126 p452 - obituary
Item 2 of 3RIAS Quarterly1924no 9Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)Obituary
Item 3 of 3RIBA Journal22 March 1924v31London: Royal Institute of British Architectsp365 - obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3H M Register HouseDeath Register  
Item 2 of 3National Archives (via Scotlands People)Statutory births  
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v18 p51 no1199 (microfilm reel 12)