Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Holt
Born: 4 January 1914
Died: 21 June 1977
Bio Notes: John Holt was born on 4 January 1914, the son of Thomas Holt, colliery deputy overman, and his wife Dorothy Ann Lamb. In September 1930 he began studying at the University of Durham, School of Architecture, graduating in 1936. During his course he spent 10 months with E H Lawson in Newcastle and 3 months with Cachett Burns Dick & Mackellar also in Newcastle.

In 1933 he was the Archibald Dawney Scholar for which he researched aspects of building construction. The following year he spent a month in the area of Paris studying contemporary buildings. He also spent July of that years travelling around England, making measured drawings. He completed the course in Durham in 1935 and spent a post-graduate year studying town planning from which he was awarded a diploma in town planning. At the same time he was employed as a junior lecturer at the School of Architecture. In September 1936 he took a position as junior architectural assistant with South Shields Borough Council and two years later, in September 1938 he moved to a post as senior architectural assistant with Durham County Education Architect’s Department. He was elected ARIBA in 1936. He served in the army during the Second World War.

In May 1946 (or in 1945 according to the RIBA obituary) Holt moved to Bristol as Principal Assistant in the Architect’s Department of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, Filton, Bristol working under David Aberdeen. In late 1949 or early 1950 he spent a brief period of time with Peterlee New Town Development Corporation. He was elected FRIBA on 4 April 1950, proposed by Eric Ross, A B Edwards and David R Henderson. Also in 1950 he was awarded second prize in the competition for the medical school in George Square in Edinburgh.

In 1950 Holt was appointed Regional Architect to the South East Regional Hospital Board (Scotland). When he arrived in this post most if not all the existing members of staff left and he recruited a number of young recently qualified architects to fill their places. Amongst those was Eric Davidson. He was given considerable responsibility by Holt, far beyond his years and experience might merit. In particular Davidson was given the job of masterminding the design and construction of Victoria Hospital Kirkcaldy which was being upgraded to a District General Hospital. Holt gave him very little guidance as Holt believed in leaving his staff to solve their own problems. During his period as Regional Architect Holt gained a reputation as a designer of health service buildings. He built around him an office which produced some fine and varied works over a twenty-year period, highlighted in 1956 by the award of the RIBA Bronze medal for the Radiotherapeutic Institute, Edinburgh. After the Health Service was reorganised in 1974, he was Assistant Director in the Building Division of the Common Services Agency.

Holt always retained a love of good design and fine buildings. He was involved in matters relating to the profession and was president of the Edinburgh Architectural Association and served on the Council of the RIAS (of which he was a Fellow) and the RIBA.

His obituarist records that ‘as an architect his approach to a problem was direct and the solution reached with alacrity. He possessed the particular knack of reducing the most complex situation to a simple statement and a decision made, he seldom looked back’. As a person he was witty and humourous and a pleasant companion.

Outwith work Holt had varied interests. He was an enthusiastic gardener as well as an accomplished musician, playing the piano and organ, clarinet and saxophone. The only diploma which hung on the walls of his office in Drumsheugh Gardens in Edinburgh was one for saxophone playing.

He died after a short illness within 18 months of retirement at the Deaconess Hospital, Edinburgh on 21 June 1977. He was survived by his wife Mable Stothard, and at least one son, John, who lived in Edinburgh.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 35, Winton Loan, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate 1977 
Item 2 of 341, Burley Crescent, Downend, Bristol, EnglandPrivate1949 *  
Item 3 of 311, Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1953 * Address given as 8 Drumsheugh Gardens in the 1855-56 Kalendar.

* 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 7Peterlee Development Corporation  Assistant 
Item 2 of 7Cackett, Burns Dick & MacKellar 1935Junior Assistant 
Item 3 of 7South Shields Borough Architect's DepartmentSeptember 19351936Junior Assistant 
Item 4 of 7Durham Education Authority Architect's Department19381940Senior Assistant 
Item 5 of 7Edwin M LawsonEarly 1930s Junior Assistant 
Item 6 of 7Bristol Aeroplane Company, Architect's DepartmentMay 1946 Principal Assistant 
Item 7 of 7South East Regional Hospital Board, Architect's Department (or South Eastern Hospital Board)19501974Chief Architect 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Robert Burns Dick20 July 1936For Associateship
Item 2 of 3(Professor) Wilfrid Bythell Edwards20 July 1936For Associateship
Item 3 of 3Robert Norman Houghton MacKellar20 July 1936For Associateship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 11Douglas Haig BamberOctober 1962For Fellowship
Item 2 of 11Eric Dalgleish Davidson17 July 1968For Fellowship
Item 3 of 11Iain Dewar Haig17 July 1968For Fellowship
Item 4 of 11Robert Forbes HutchisonJune 1954For Fellowship
Item 5 of 11Thomas Inglis2 October 1968For Fellowship
Item 6 of 11Alan George Jamieson17 July 1968For Fellowship
Item 7 of 11James Robertson Marshall5 June 1968for Fellowship
Item 8 of 11Charles Ewan McEwan-Waghorn9 October 1956For Licentiateship
Item 9 of 11Alan ReiachEarly 1959For Fellowship
Item 10 of 11Walter Scott2 October 1969For Fellowship
Item 11 of 11Charles Peter Womersley (known as Peter Womersley)9 December 1964For 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 25After 1946Brabazon Assembly HallFilton BristolEnglandAs Principal Assistant with British Aerospace Company.
Item 2 of 251949BOAC North Atlantic base  BristolEnglandAs Principal Assistant with the Bristol Aeroplane Company
Item 3 of 25c. 1949Brabazon Assembly Hall, canteen and other ancillary buildingsFilton BristolEnglandAs Principal Assistant with the Bristol Aeroplane Company's architectural department
Item 4 of 251950sSt Cuthbert's PoorhouseCraigleith EdinburghScotlandOverall development of hospital
Item 5 of 251951University of Edinburgh, Medical Buildings (Pharmacology Department and Hugh Robson Building)  Edinburgh, MidlothianScotlandPlaced second in competition
Item 6 of 251952Western General Hospital, Radiotherapeutic Institute  EdinburghScotlandAs Chief Architect of the South East Regional Hospital Board
Item 7 of 251953Cameron HouseWindygates FifeScotlandAs chief architect, South East Regional Hospital Board of Scotland
Item 8 of 251953Hospital for Aged and Senile Patients Cupar FifeScotlandChief architect
Item 9 of 2512 June 1953New General Hospital, Mortonhall Estate  EdinburghScotlandPlans in hand
Item 10 of 251954Western General Hospital, Neurosurgical Department  EdinburghScotlandAs Chief Architect to the South East Regional Hospital Board
Item 11 of 25After 1954Fife and Kinross District AsylumSpringfield, Cupar FifeScotlandUnits for patients with mental health problems - for South East Regional Hospital Board
Item 12 of 251955Dunfermline Cottage HospitalDunfermline FifeScotlandCasualty Block - as Chief Architect of the SE Regional Hospital Board
Item 13 of 251955Kirkcaldy Burgh Infectious Diseases HospitalKirkcaldy FifeScotlandMajor alterations and additions to transform into a District General Hospital - as Chief Architect to the South East Regional Hospital Board
Item 14 of 251955Rheumatic Diseases Research Clinic  EdinburghScotlandChief Architect for South East Regional Hospital Board
Item 15 of 2522 February 1957Victoria Hospital, Nurses' HomeKirkcaldy  Scotland'Regional Architect to the South-Eastern Hospital Board' per Builder p 362
Item 16 of 251958Western General Hospital, central microbiology laboratory  Edinburgh, MidlothianScotlandAs chief architect of SERHB
Item 17 of 251958Western General Hospital, College of Nursing  EdinburghScotlandAdditions to N - as Chief Architect of SERHB
Item 18 of 251959Randolph Wemyss Memorial HospitalDenbeath/Methil FifeScotlandS extension
Item 19 of 251961Cameron Hospital Geriatric ExtensionWindygates FifeScotlandGeriatric block added - as architect of South East Regional Hospital Board
Item 20 of 251962Western General Hospital, Nuffield Transplantation Surgery Unit  EdinburghScotlandPreliminary designs as chief architect to South East Regional Hospital Board
Item 21 of 251963Liberton HospitalLiberton EdinburghScotlandAnnexe to Geriatric Hospital
Item 22 of 251966Forth Park HouseKirkcaldy FifeScotlandExtension in brick - as chief architect of SE Regional Hospital Board
Item 23 of 251966Royal Edinburgh Hospital, University of Edinburgh, Department of Psychiatry  EdinburghScotlandAs Chief Architect to the SERHB
Item 24 of 251966Western General, Outpatient, Casualty and Diagnostic Block  EdinburghScotlandAs Chief Architect of SERHB
Item 25 of 251970Gogarburn Hospital, children's unit  EdinburghScotlandAs Chief Architect to the SERHB


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 2Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp4 University of Edinburgh Medical School
p28 Radiotherapeutic Institute, Edinburgh
p36-7, 52, 167, 186 Nuffield Transplantation Unit
Item 2 of 2Willis, Peter1977New architecture in Scotland  p88-89 Nuffield Transplant Unit

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builder12 June 1953  p933
Item 2 of 3Builder22 February 1957  p 362
Item 3 of 3RIBA JournalSeptember 1977 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2H M Register HouseDeath Register  
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F no4518 (Combined Box 19)