Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Robb Scott
Born: 11 February 1882
Died: 1965
Bio Notes: James Robb Scott was born in the Gorbals, Glasgow on 11 February 1882, the illegitimate son of the 30-year-old architect Andrew Robb Scott and the teenager Mary Fletcher. His parents married two years later in 1884.

James Robb Scott studied architectural classes in Edinburgh's School of Applied Arts from 1898 and was articled to Leadbetter & Fairley of Edinburgh by around 1900. Around 1905 he joined the noted office of Belcher & Joass in London: John James Joass was a fellow Scot, and his father may have provided the introduction. Scott was seemingly promoted to chief architectural assistant there but left in March 1906 to join the London & South Western Railway (LSWR). Tremellen notes he became the Railways' senior architectural assistant after 1918, and during the period of the reconstruction of Waterloo Station between 1909 and 1923. The engineer J W Jacomb-Hood (1822-1900) and A Q Szlumber had designed the roof and platforms, but Scott designed the large office range and the impressive Victory Arch, a main entrance and war memorial to the fallen employees of the Railway, in 1922. The office range housed the architects' office of the LSWR and later Southern Railways (SR) after the amalgamation of the 123 British railway companies into four principal companies in 1923. At this point Scott received three architectural assistants Rodney Thomas, Guy Morgan and Maxwell Fry. His department was very small, with only nine staff, and Scott served under the Chief Engineer Szlumper.

As chief architect to the Southern Railway, Scott designed, or was in charge of the design team of the stations at Ramsgate (1925), Bromley (1925), Byfleet and New Haw (1927), Ramsgate Dumpson Park (1928), Exmouth (1929), Wimbledon (1930), Wimbledon Chase (1930), Hastings (1931), Bishopstone (1936), Surbiton (1937), Richmond (1938), Malden Manor (1938), Horsham (1938), Chessington North (1939) and Chessington South (1939). Other stations designed by the company around this period include Woking, Margate, Kingston, Southampton Central, Tolworth and Southampton. There is some dispute as to Scott's actual involvement in these works: it has been remarked that the notable difference in style between his early classical Baroque of Waterloo Station and the later modernistic/art deco designs of the 1920s and '30s require that the buildings were designed by the team rather than Scott himself. Often the architectural drawings for the stations are unsigned, and it has been suggested that Scott's chief assistant from c.1923 to 1927, Edwin Maxwell Fry (1899-1987), may have had a hand in some of the early classical designs along with a team of young architects that went on to undertake the 1930s commissions. Fry is scathing about Scott in his autobiography, describing him as 'a lumbering Scotsman only waiting for the salmon rivers to rise' who 'fell into my hands like a ripe plum as by one of these sudden spurts of decisive action I took over the hotel design that was beyond him, and was installed by the Chief Engineer as his deputy and working factotum … and I immediately set about reinforcing the time-serving staff of old bodies with all the friends and acquaintances I could lay hold of. There was plenty of work and one by one I signed on an assortment of young men who transformed the place of lingering fears and deceptions…'

However, there is no direct evidence for Scott not being the architect of these stations, and much of Fry's biography, which Tremellen calls 'highly suspect' cannot be taken on trust.

Unusually Scott never became a full member of the RIBA, only becoming a Licentiate. He married in 1908 in Richmond, Surrey and in 1914 he was living at 29 Moormead Road, St Margarets-on-Thames. He died in Edinburgh in 1965.

(Biographical notes derived from text by Steven M Robb)

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 329, Moormead Road, St Margarets-on-Thames, London/Surrey, EnglandPrivate1914 *  
Item 2 of 3Waterloo Station, London, EnglandBusiness1923  
Item 3 of 311, Withdean Court, Preston Park, Brighton, Sussex, EnglandBusiness1940 *  

* 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 4Leadbetter & Fairleyc. 1900c. 1905Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4Belcher & Joassc. 19051907AssistantLatterly chief assistant
Item 3 of 4London and South Western Railway Architect's Department19071923 or 1924 or 1925Chief Assistant 
Item 4 of 4Southern Railway Architect's Department1923 or 1924 or 1925After 1939Chief Architect 

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 11909Waterloo Station  LondonEnglandReconstruction - as chief architectural assistant


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 4Betjeman, John1972London's Historic Railway Stations John Murray 
Item 2 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 3 of 4Murray Tremellen2022The career of James Robb Scott - Reassessing Architectural Practice on the Southern RailwayMay 2022Backtrack magazine 
Item 4 of 4Stamp, Gavin2004The Architecture of Britain's Transport in the Twentieth Century New Haven and London: Yale University Press 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 5Architect and Building News3 June 1938   
Item 2 of 5Architectural Design and ConstructionApril 1938   
Item 3 of 5Architectural Design and ConstructionDecember 1938  'Modernisation on the Southern Railway'
Item 4 of 5Architecture IllustratedApril 1938   
Item 5 of 5Scotsman6 May 1914  Obituary of A R Scott

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3British Architectural Library, RIBARIBA Biographical Files  
Item 2 of 3Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Information from Steven Robb, English Heritage, a relative. Also information from Neil Brown
Item 3 of 3Robb family archiveArchitectural drawings, photographs, letters and documents in possession of the Robb family