Basic Biographical Details

Name: Thomas Aikman Swan
Born: 24 December 1883
Died: 14 November 1945
Bio Notes: Thomas Aikman Swan was born in Edinburgh on 24 December 1883, the son of James Gardner Swan, and educated at George Heriot's School. He was articled to Hamilton-Paterson & Rhind from 10 August 1900, remaining with Thomas Duncan Rhind after the dissolution of the partnership, and studied at the Heriot-Watt College and Edinburgh School of Applied Art. There he gained the Scottish National Art Survey Award in 1905, enabling him to make a six-month study of medieval work in Scotland, and the travelling scholarship for three months of study in Italy in 1906; his drawing of the staircase to the Laurentian Library appeared in 'Academy Architecture' Volume 2 in 1907.

Swan moved to Robert Lorimer's office as a draughtsman in 1906. He had been promoted to senior assistant by 1910 when he passed the qualifying exam in July and was admitted ARIBA on 5 December, his proposers being Lorimer, Hippolyte Jean Blanc and Francis William Deas. Some time between his application for admission as ARIBA that August and the end of the year, he was taken on as assistant and prospective partner by Alan Keith Robertson (born 1881). A branch office of the practice was then opened at Dalkeith, where Swan had connections, and the partnership of Robertson & Swan was duly formed in 1912. Swan appears to have had a considerable design role as the façade of Robertson & Swan's Moray House had points in common with the Arts Building at the University of Alberta by Lorimer's former assistant Percy Erskine Nobbs, while the architecture of the Suffolk Halls campus was pure Lorimer.

The partnership did not long survive the First World War. Robertson did not seek a commission, preferring to serve in the line with the Royal Engineers. He was severely wounded, recommencing practice in very poor health in 1917. Swan was commissioned, served in France and ended his service as a Major, thereafter being generally known as Major Aikman Swan. The partnership was resumed in 1919 but Swan withdrew in 1921, partly because of Robertson's chronic ill health, and partly because he is said to have thought it inappropriate to have a non-commissioned ex-serviceman as senior partner; but it was probably also because Swan was undertaking most of the work and had won first premiums in the competitions for four Edinburgh housing schemes, only one of which came his way.

Swan thereafter practised on his own from 42 Frederick Street until 1926 when he moved his office to 7 St Colme Street, his home being at Glenbervie, Eskbank, Midlothian. He was an active member of professional organisations, serving as a president of the Edinburgh Architectural Association and as a Vice-President of the RIAS. He was elected FRIBA on 19 June 1939, his proposers being Reginald Fairlie, Leslie Grahame-Thomson and Harold Ogle Tarbolton. He died on 14 November 1945 at the age of 61, survived by his wife Elizabeth Bleloch. He left an estate of £18532 19s 4d.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 828, Gayfield Square, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1907After 1910 
Item 2 of 812, Claremont Crescent, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/businessc. 1910 House and office initially and from about 1913 house only
Item 3 of 8Dalkeith, Midlothian, ScotlandBusinessc. 1912 Branch office of Robertson & Swan
Item 4 of 829, Hanover Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1912 Office of Aikman & Swan after about 1912
Item 5 of 842, Frederick Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness19211926 
Item 6 of 87, St Colme Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1926c. 1940(?) 
Item 7 of 8Glenbervie, Eskbank, Midlothian, ScotlandPrivatec. 1926c. 1944 
Item 8 of 845, Lauder Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1944  

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 5Hamilton-Paterson & Rhind1900Before 1906Apprentice 
Item 2 of 5(Sir) Robert Stodart Lorimer1906Late 1910Assistant 
Item 3 of 5(Sir) Thomas Duncan RhindBefore 19061906Apprentice 
Item 4 of 5Alan Keith RobertsonLate 19101912Assistant 
Item 5 of 5Robertson & Swan19121921Partner 

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 7David McGibbonOctober 1920October 1925Apprentice 
Item 2 of 7James Mackie MurrayJuly 1923c. August 1927Apprentice 
Item 3 of 7Robert Alexander Scott19251930Apprentice 
Item 4 of 7James Henderson19271928Draughtsman 
Item 5 of 7James Meldrum MitchellNovember 1927January 1931AssistantPresumably in Swan's office as both shared the address of 7 St Colme Street at this date
Item 6 of 7James Nisbet Lockerbie19291934Apprentice 
Item 7 of 7John Hardie Glover19381939Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6Hippolyte Jean Blanc5 December 1910for Associateship
Item 2 of 6Francis William Deas5 December 1910for Associateship
Item 3 of 6Reginald Francis Joseph Fairlie19 June 1939for Fellowship
Item 4 of 6(Sir) Robert Stodart Lorimer5 December 1910for Associateship
Item 5 of 6Harold Ogle Tarbolton19 June 1939for Fellowship
Item 6 of 6Leslie Grahame Thomson (or Leslie Grahame-Thomson; later Leslie Grahame MacDougall)19 June 1939for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6Owen Keith Beattie24 June 1912for Licentiateship
Item 2 of 6Peter Dunbar Lawson9 January 1940For Associateship
Item 3 of 6Robert Reid MillLate 1931for Licentiateship
Item 4 of 6James Meldrum Mitchell11 December 1945for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 6John Ogilvie18 July 1938for Associateship
Item 6 of 6Robert Alexander ScottEarly 1934for 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 341910Moray House Training College  EdinburghScotlandInvolved initially as assistant
Item 2 of 34After 1912Street improvement schemes  EdinburghScotland 
Item 3 of 341914Suffolk Road Halls of Residence, Moray House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 4 of 341917School hostelPortreeSkyeInverness-shireScotland 
Item 5 of 341917School hostelStornowayLewisRoss and CromartyScotlandDesign
Item 6 of 341919Tranent Housing SchemeTranent East LothianScotlandT A Swan appointed architect
Item 7 of 34c. 1919Edinburgh Corporation Reconstruction Scheme  EdinburghScotlandSecond premiated competition design
Item 8 of 341920TorduffColinton EdinburghScotlandAlterations
Item 9 of 341922Masonic Lodge Number 5Leith EdinburghScotlandReconstruction
Item 10 of 341923Tranent War MemorialTranent East LothianScotland 
Item 11 of 341923Wardie Housing Scheme   EdinburghScotlandWon competition to secure job
Item 12 of 3419246 Pentland RoadColinton EdinburghScotlandAdditions
Item 13 of 341924Grange Cemetery, layout, lodge etcGrange EdinburghScotlandExtensions over sites of nos 3 and 5 Kilgraston Roasd
Item 14 of 341925Bungalow, Granton Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 15 of 341925HolmwoodDavidson's Mains  EdinburghScotland 
Item 16 of 341925House at Colinton for J StorrarColinton EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 341925“Glen Affric”Balerno  MidlothianScotland 
Item 18 of 341926Hermitage Park SchoolLeith EdinburghScotlandAdditions
Item 19 of 341927Houses at Davidson's MainsDavidson's Mains EdinburghScotland 
Item 20 of 341927Perth AcademyPerth PerthshireScotlandWon competition to secure job
Item 21 of 341927Red Lion InnDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 22 of 341928George Watson's College  EdinburghScotlandCompetition design - not selected, but awarded 100-guinea premium
Item 23 of 341929Tennis PavilionBonnyrigg MidlothianScotland 
Item 24 of 34Before 1929Technical School and RC SchoolBathgate West LothianScotlandWon competition to secure job
Item 25 of 34c. 1933(?)Housing schemeDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 26 of 341934Commercial Bank of Scotland, Stockbridge BranchStockbridge EdinburghScotland 
Item 27 of 341935Housing Scheme, High StreetDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 28 of 341935Housing Scheme, Lothian RoadDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 29 of 341935Stenhouse Church of Scotland and hallsStenhouse EdinburghScotland 
Item 30 of 34193656 houses, WoodburnDalkeith MidlothianScotland 
Item 31 of 341936Old ChurchDalkeith MidlothianScotlandRestoration of east end
Item 32 of 341936Ormiston Parish ChurchOrmiston East LothianScotland 
Item 33 of 341936St Francis RC Primary SchoolCraigmillar EdinburghScotland 
Item 34 of 341939Scottish Amicable Building, Gordon Street  GlasgowScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 3Post Office Directories     
Item 2 of 3RIBA1939The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 3 of 3Who's Who in Art1929    

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Edinburgh Evening Dispatch15 November 1945  Obituary
Item 2 of 2Weekly Scotsman20 October 1945   

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 A v19 no2129 (microfilm reel 20); F no3673 (box 27)