Basic Biographical Details

Name: Robert Walter Elder
Born: 1899
Died: 15 February 1963
Bio Notes: Robert Walter Elder was born at Cathcart in 1899 (Reg Dist 560, entry no 159), the son of David Elder, assistant city assessor, and his wife Elizabeth Sorley Buchan. He was educated at Uddingston Grammar School and took a two-year evening class course in building construction at Glasgow High School to qualify for entrance to the Glasgow School of Architecture. He undertook the diploma course from 1921 to 1926 while articled to Southorn & Orr, and won the bronze medal with a design for a shelter in a public park in 1923. A minor travelling scholarship enabled him to spend a fortnight in London. He was admitted ARIBA on 20 June 1927, his proposers being T Harold Hughes, James Lochhead and William Brown Whitie.

Immediately thereafter, Elder became the junior partner of the cinema specialist Charles James McNair, whose main client was the ABC group. Elder was the principal designer, working with five assistants and an apprentice in a back room on accomplished Art Deco schemes which ensured the practice's continuing success.

Elder was personally a timid chain-smoker who preferred to let McNair deal with the clients. He was remembered by an assistant, Robert Forsyth, as 'a very shy man who didn't want to take the credit'. He never married and in later years suffered from Parkinson's disease. He died of pneumonia at Belvidere Hospital on 15 February 1963.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3Castlewood, Greenock Avenue, Cathcart, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1927 *After 1950 
Item 2 of 3272, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1937After 1941 
Item 3 of 35, Deanston Drive, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1963 *  

* 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 5Frank Southorn & Orr19211926Apprentice 
Item 2 of 5Charles James McNairAfter 19271936Partner 
Item 3 of 5Charles James McNairc. 1927Before 1936Chief Assistant 
Item 4 of 5McNair & Elder1936After 1941Partner 
Item 5 of 5C J McNair Elder & RidleyBefore 1950 Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Thomas Harold Hughes20 June 1927for Associateship
Item 2 of 3James Lochhead20 June 1927for Associateship
Item 3 of 3William Brown Whitie20 June 1927for Associateship

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 281930sThe Old Church, AyrAyr AyrshireScotlandSession House
Item 2 of 281930Talkie TheatreDumfries DumfriesshireScotland 
Item 3 of 281931Regal CinemaDumfries DumfriesshireScotlandAs assistant to Charles James McNair
Item 4 of 281931Regal CinemaHamilton LanarkshireScotlandAs assistant
Item 5 of 281933Regal cinemaPaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 6 of 281934CinemaMotherwell LanarkshireScotlandAlterations and additions after a fire
Item 7 of 281934Regal Cinema and Bingo HallCoatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 8 of 281935Bellgrove Hotel  GlasgowScotland 
Item 9 of 281936CinemaInverness Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 10 of 281936Cinema on Palladium siteTollcross GlasgowScotland 
Item 11 of 281936Cinema, Mount FloridaMount Florida GlasgowScotland 
Item 12 of 281936Palaceum CinemaShettleston GlasgowScotlandRebuilding
Item 13 of 281936Plaza CinemaGovan GlasgowScotland 
Item 14 of 281936Princes CinemaSpringburn GlasgowScotland 
Item 15 of 281936Two Super CinemasMiotherwell LanarkshireScotland 
Item 16 of 281937Dennistoun Palais de DanseDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 17 of 281937Glen Moray HotelDunoon ArgyllScotland 
Item 18 of 281937Greenock BB cinemaGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandReconstruction and additions - with Stewart Tough & Alexander.
Item 19 of 281937Playhouse CinemaGalashiels SelkirkshireScotland 
Item 20 of 281937State CinemaKing's Park GlasgowScotland 
Item 21 of 281937State CinemaShettleston GlasgowScotland 
Item 22 of 281937Super Cinema CartsdykeGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 23 of 281938Lyceum Cinema (II)Govan GlasgowScotlandRebuilding after fire
Item 24 of 281938Olympia Theatre of VarietiesBridgeton GlasgowScotlandInternal rebuilding
Item 25 of 281938Super cinemaRenfrew RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 26 of 281939Ascot CinemaAnniesland GlasgowScotland 
Item 27 of 281939Mosspark Cinema  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 28 of 281939Plaza CinemaKilmarnock AyrshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 3Peter, Bruce1996100 Years of Glasgow's Amazing Cinemas Edinburgh: Polygon 
Item 2 of 3Post Office Directories     
Item 3 of 3RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Research by Iain Paterson; personal information from Elder's apprentice, Robert Forsyth.
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no4080 (box 6)