Basic Biographical Details

Name: Henry ('Harry') Thomson
Born: 1880
Died: 2 November 1921
Bio Notes: Henry ('Harry') Thomson was born in Dundee in 1880, the son of James Thomson, then an assistant in the Burgh Engineer's office in Dundee, and educated at Dundee High School. He was articled to John Murray Robertson in 1896, and took classes at the Technical Institute. He remained with Murray Robertson until the latter's death in early 1901 when he commenced practice in Dundee on his own account, but continued to assist Robertson's successor James Findlay part-time with the completion of Robertson's Medical School building until 1902.

In 1906, having obtained the commission for the King's Theatre in Dundee, Harry engaged his brother Frank, then in London, to design it. Some time before the opening on 15 March 1909 Frank was taken into partnership by his brother, enabling him to marry and set up house in Cupar. Some time previously Harry had set up his own household at 5 Yew Bank Avenue, Broughty Ferry. Before the theatre was completed the original promoter, who had a link with the D'Oyly Carte Company, had embarrassed himself and his backers deserted him, the project being taken over by another local syndicate, United County Theatres, who brought in an untraced English consultant named Ward (perhaps an assistant in one of the larger theatre architects' offices) to complete it with more elaborate plasterwork ('all right if you like that kind of thing').

Harry was admitted LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911, proposed by William Fleming Wilkie and the Dundee Institute of Architects. In that year the partnership won the competition for St John's Cross Church, a burgh church transferred to the Blackness area and shortly thereafter Frank moved to Daisybank, Maryfield where he lived for the rest of his life. But by the beginning of the First World War the partnership had run into difficulty. Harry was more socialite than worker, and although the practice had prospered he had borrowed heavily from his brother, partly to finance his move from Yew Bank Avenue to Oakley Place in Queen Street. Their problems came to a head over unpaid tradesmen, a matter which went to court where Frank had to give evidence which contradicted that of his brother. The practice was damaged by the publicity the case received and the partnership was dissolved: 'he broke it, I didn't, I always regretted it' Frank observed some forty years later, although Harry's debts had never been repaid. After the war Harry and Frank practised independently but on 2 November 1921 Harry died from a fall in the stairwell of a Broughty Ferry hotel.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 226, Castle Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1909After 1911 
Item 2 of 25, Yewbank Avenue, Broughty Ferry, Dundee, ScotlandPrivate1911 *  

* 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 3John Murray Robertson18961901Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3James Findlay19011904AssistantWorked as part-time assistant to complete Medical School, whilst also carrying out independent practice
Item 3 of 3H & F Thomson1908c. 1914Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1William Fleming Wilkie20 July 1911for Licentiateship - as President of the Dundee Institute of Architects

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 221901University College Dundee, medical schools  DundeeScotlandAs part-time assistant to James Findlay, whilst in independent practice
Item 2 of 22190211-13 Hillcrest Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 3 of 221905Stables  DundeeScotland 
Item 4 of 221906King's Theatre and Hippodrome  DundeeScotlandCompleted in association with ___Ward
Item 5 of 221909Factory (hackle-making works) fronting North Lindsay Street  DundeeScotlandOriginal building
Item 6 of 221909Warehouses, Laing Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 7 of 221910Eagle Buildings   DundeeScotland 
Item 8 of 221910St David's Parish Church hall  DundeeScotland 
Item 9 of 221910Two-storey shopfronts, Overgate  DundeeScotland 
Item 10 of 221910Whitehall Works  DundeeScotlandExtension
Item 11 of 221911Masonic HallBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 12 of 221911St John's Cross Church and halls  DundeeScotland 
Item 13 of 221911Ward Road public gymnasium  DundeeScotlandGallery added
Item 14 of 221912Loftus Tea RoomsBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 15 of 221913Broughty Picture HouseBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 16 of 221913Factory (hackle-making works) fronting North Lindsay Street  DundeeScotlandExtension
Item 17 of 221913G L Wilson's Department Store  DundeeScotland 
Item 18 of 221915Frew's Bar  DundeeScotlandInterior refitted
Item 19 of 221919Logie Housing Scheme  DundeeScotlandDesigned some areas within Logie
Item 20 of 221919Tivoli Cinema  DundeeScotland 
Item 21 of 221920Houses, Waverley Terrace  DundeeScotland 
Item 22 of 221920Regent Cinema  DundeeScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 1Horan, Martin2001The King's, God's and Commoners   

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 Copy of letter from Trixie Thomson to Historic Buildings and Monuments, 10 July 1990; personal information from Frank Thomson, Gertie and Trixie Thomson and W Sinclair Gauldie
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v21 no1625