Basic Biographical Details

Name: Andrew Renton
Born: 22 May 1917
Died: 14 November 1982
Bio Notes: Andrew Renton was born at 170 Rumblingwell, Dunfermline on 22 May 1917, the son of John Renton, joiner, and his wife, Margaret Downie who had married in 1915 in Dunfermline. He attended Dunfermline High School, and studied from 1934 at Edinburgh College of Art. He was awarded the Andrew Grant Travelling Scholarship in 1935 and 1936, enabling him to visit the Cotswolds and Somerset. He received the RIBA bronze medal in 1937, and in that year secured a year-long work placement with Sir John Burnet, Tait & Lorne, after which he continued his ECA studies. He won a travelling scholarship that enabled him to visit Italy at Easter 1939 and France that summer. He passed the qualifying exam in June 1940 and was admitted ARIBA on 14 October that year, his proposers being Alex A Foote, George D Macniven and Joseph Weekes. Foote's supporting statement in his nomination papers describes his work as 'of a very high standard'.

He was awarded further travelling scholarships in 1939 and 1940, but was unable to benefit from them because of war service, during which he served for six years (1940-45) with the RAF in Africa, India and Burma. After his return, in 1946 he joined Lorimer & Matthew as assistant. Two years later he joined Basil Spence & Partners. He was taken into partnership as partner-in-charge of the firm's London office at 29 Buckingham Street (off The Strand) in 1949, working initially on housing estates in Sunbury-on-Thames. The office moved to 48 Queen Anne Street in 1952. There, Renton was architect for St Martin's Shrewsbury, Hatfield New Town, the University of Nottingham, and buildings in Liverpool, Ecclesfield, Sydenham, Basildon and Southampton.

Renton was elected FRIBA on 4 October 1960, proposed by Spence, James Shearer and Robert Hogg Matthew. In the preceding years, however, further commissions had proved difficult to come by, and Renton had become increasingly burdened with the practice’s administration. He secured in his own right the commission for Thorn House, an office tower on St Martin's Lane for the electrical goods manufacturer, through Jules Thorn who was a neighbour. Ostensibly a disagreement between Spence and Renton over the attribution of this design resulted in a split in the practice in 1961, but in truth the reasons would seem to be more deep-seated and more complex. Renton retained the Queen Anne Street offices and established Renton & Associates, which shortly afterwards became Renton, Howard & Wood and subsequently Renton Howard Wood Levine (later RHWL). Spence meanwhile remained at the Canonbury Place office he had opened in 1956, and opened a new office at 1 Fitzroy Square under the charge of Jack Bonnington and Gordon Collins, so that by 1964 his firm was split into three separate practices: Sir Basil Spence OM RA and Sir Basil Spence, Bonnington & Collins in London, and Sir Basil Spence, Glover & Ferguson in Edinburgh.

Major work by Renton's practice includes the Crucible Theatre at Sheffield, the Arts Centre at Warwick, and, in London, St Katherine's Dock House (1965) and the redevelopment of the St Katherine's Dock area (1978). An Edinburgh office established in 1973 under Stewart Brown produced Queen Margaret College (1973).

Renton served on the RIBA Council from 1968 to 1974. He was awarded the OBE in 1972.

He died aged 65 on 14 November 1982 in Surrey. His son, John Renton, followed his father into the profession, being a partner in Renton Welch Architects (latterly John Renton Architects - JRA, established in 1997).

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 418, New Row, Dunfermline, Fife, ScotlandPrivate1940 *  
Item 2 of 429, Buckingham Street (off The Strand), London, EnglandBusiness19491952 
Item 3 of 448, Queen Anne Street, London, EnglandBusiness1952After 1961 
Item 4 of 42, Grosvenor Gardens, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1975  

* 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 7(Sir) John Burnet, Tait & Lorne19371938AssistantYear's work placement during studies at ECA
Item 2 of 7Lorimer & Matthew19461948Assistant 
Item 3 of 7Basil Spence & Partners19481949 In Edinburgh office. Initial role unclear - Associate? Assistant? Architect?
Item 4 of 7Basil Spence & Partners19491961PartnerInitially in Edinburgh office, then entirely in London office from early 1950s.
Item 5 of 7Renton & Associates1961Before 1971Partner 
Item 6 of 7Renton, Howard & WoodAfter 1961Before 1971Partner 
Item 7 of 7Renton Howard Wood Levin (RHWL)c. 1971(?) Partner 

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 1Andrew Stewart BrownMid 1970s ArchitectIn Edinburgh office.


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6Alexander Allan Foote15 October 1940for Associateship
Item 2 of 6George Donaldson Macniven15 October 1940for Associateship
Item 3 of 6Robert Hogg Matthew4 October 1960for Fellowship
Item 4 of 6James Grant Shearer4 October 1960for Fellowship
Item 5 of 6(Sir) Basil Urwin Spence4 October 1960for Fellowship
Item 6 of 6Joseph Weekes15 October 1940for Associateship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 2Humphrey Paul Wood2 October 1968For Fellowship
Item 2 of 2Henry Wylie (or Harry Wylie)2 October 1968For 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 441947Glasgow University, Natural Philosophy Buildings  GlasgowScotlandExtension to N, for research and housing the synchrotron.
Item 2 of 441948Housing, 1-6 Harbour Court, Castle GateDunbar East LothianScotlandDesigner
Item 3 of 441948Housing, 15A-15D Victoria Street and 8 Writer's CourtDunbar East LothianScotlandDesigner
Item 4 of 441948Housing, 19A, 19B, 19C Victoria Street and 10, 12 Writer's CourtDunbar East LothianScotlandDesigner
Item 5 of 441948Housing, Victoria PlaceDunbar East LothianScotlandDesigner
Item 6 of 441949Bannerfield EstateSelkirk SelkirkshireScotland 
Item 7 of 441949Housing Scheme, SheppertonSunbury-on-Thames MiddlesexEngland 
Item 8 of 441950s(?)Daniel Stewart's Hospital  EdinburghScotlandCeiling decoration in library
Item 9 of 441950Crawford's Snack Bar interior, Queensferry Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 10 of 441950John Smith (Wools)  EdinburghScotland 
Item 11 of 441950SAI (Scottish Agricultural Industries) offices  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction?
Item 12 of 441950Scottish Agricultural IndustriesAyr AyrshireScotlandAmenities block and other work
Item 13 of 441951Festival of Britain Scotland, Exhibition of Industrial Power, Kelvin Hall  GlasgowScotland 
Item 14 of 441951The CottageLongniddry East LothianScotland 
Item 15 of 44After 1951Private house(s)Bedale YorkshireScotlandUnclear whether Renton was involved or whether Ferguson was wholly responsible
Item 16 of 44After 1951Private house(s)Ormiston East LothianScotlandUnclear whether Renton was involved or whether Ferguson was wholly responsible
Item 17 of 441952Scottish School of Art & IndustryKilsyth StirlingshireScotlandCompletion of project
Item 18 of 441953Council housesDunbar East LothianScotlandImplemented reduced scheme
Item 19 of 441953Housing, Buncles Court and Lamer StreetDunbar East LothianScotlandDesigner
Item 20 of 441953(?)Plewlands HouseSouth Queensferry West LothianScotlandRestored and converted to houses
Item 21 of 441954Inch Hall ChurchInch EdinburghScotland 
Item 22 of 441954St Andrew's ChurchClermiston EdinburghScotland 
Item 23 of 441956Flats, Great Michael Rise and AnnfieldNewhaven EdinburghScotland 
Item 24 of 441956Tenement blocks, New LaneNewhaven EdinburghScotland 
Item 25 of 441956Tenements, 14-20 Great Michael RiseNewhaven EdinburghScotland 
Item 26 of 441956Tenements, 4-12 Great Michael RiseNewhaven EdinburghScotland 
Item 27 of 441956Tenements, New LaneNewhaven EdinburghScotland 
Item 28 of 441957George Watson's School, head masters house  EdinburghScotland 
Item 29 of 441957Trinity College GlenalmondGlenalmond PerthshireScotlandExtension at E end of N range
Item 30 of 441958Housing, Gorbals Redevelopment Scheme, Commercial Road AreaGorbals GlasgowScotland 
Item 31 of 441958Hutchesontown / Gorbals Area C Housing RedevelopmentHutchesontown/Gorbals GlasgowScotland 
Item 32 of 441958Scottish Widows Head Office  EdinburghScotlandCompleted in 1962 after Renton had left the practice.
Item 33 of 441958Thurso High SchoolThurso CaithnessScotland 
Item 34 of 441959House at Oxlease EstateHatfield HertfordshireEngland 
Item 35 of 44Early 1950sSS Ninian, Martin and John RC ChurchWhithorn WigtownshireScotlandPrepared design - not executed. Commission went to Goodhart-Rendel.
Item 36 of 44Late 1950s(?)Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, blood transfusion extension  EdinburghScotland 
Item 37 of 441960RHS Ingliston showground, Yorkshire Insurance StandIngliston EdinburghScotland 
Item 38 of 441960Royal Showground Stoneleigh, Yorkshire Insurance StandStoneleigh WarwickshireEngland 
Item 39 of 441960Trinity College Glenalmond, Reid's HouseGlenalmond PerthshireScotland 
Item 40 of 44After 1960King's College, University of Durham, Research Block  Newcastle-upon-TyneEngland 
Item 41 of 44c. 1970Burrell Collection  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - based on polygon shapes
Item 42 of 441973Queen Margaret CollegeCorstorphine EdinburghScotland 
Item 43 of 441974Tron Church  EdinburghScotlandRestoration
Item 44 of 44Before 1981Premises for R S Robertson & Scott   Scotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 2Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press LtdpXI A 1958 sketch perspective of Hutchesontown / Gorbals Area 'C' proposed blocks
pXII Demolition of Hutchesontown 'C' September 1993
p10 Image of Thomas Whalen's 'Coal Cliff' relief for the 1951 Exhibition of Industrial Power
p14 Harbour Court Housing, Dunbar
p20, p39, p92-4, p98-102, p144-7, p175 Hutchesontown Gorbals Area 'C'
p92-94, p98-102
p96-7 Kilsyth Academy;
Lamer Street Housing, Dunbar
p97 Thurso High School;
The Cottage, Longniddry
Item 2 of 2Glendinning, Miles and Muthesius, Stefan1994Tower Block: Modern Public Housing in England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland Yale University Press: New Haven and LondonHutchesontown Area C: p170, p224, p327, p368

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1RIBA JournalJune 1983v90London: Royal Institute of British Architectsp70

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no7670 (stored under F5475); F no5475 (combined box 81)
Item 2 of 2Sent to DSA by emailInformation from AHRC/RCAHMS Spence project per David W Walker and Clive Fenton Clive Fenton's research notes (sent July 2010)