Basic Biographical Details

Name: Eric Dalgleish Davidson
Born: 7 September 1928
Bio Notes: Eric Dalgleish Davidson was born on 7 September 1928, the son of David Dalgleish Davidson and his wife Agnes Mabel Bell. His father died when he was 11 so his mother brought him up alone. From the years 1933 to 1945 he was educated at Musselburgh Grammar School. At school he was both Captain of Cricket and Captain of Rugby. On leaving school he was articled in the office of the architect and builder James Miller (later Sir James Miller) in Edinburgh at the same time commencing the part-time course at the School of Architecture, Edinburgh College of Art. He continued until he was called up for military service in 1946. He served with the Royal Engineers in the 8th Field Squadron attached to the 1st Armoured Division and saw active service in Palestine until the mandate ended in 1947. He was then stationed in Egypt and Kenya until demobilisation in September 1948.

Davidson returned to Edinburgh and recommenced his studies at the College of Art, now as a full-time student. He was able to do this because, after serving in the Forces, he was entitled to his fees being waived and to a generous grant. During this period he was awarded the Andrew Grant Travelling Bursary with which he travelled to Spain, France and Italy. He graduated in 1954. During the vacations when he was a student Davidson worked in the office of Leslie Grahame (Thomson) Macdougall. After graduation he worked as an assistant in the office of Lorimer & Matthew for a year. He was elected ARIBA and ARIAS in 1955.

He then joined the Architect’s Department of the South East Regional Hospital Board to pursue his interest in health buildings and hospital architecture in the developing NHS under John Holt who had recently arrived in Edinburgh as Regional Architect. Most of the existing members of the Department had left when Holt arrived and he recruited a team of young and enthusiastic architects. During the late 1950s and early 1960s Davidson carried out many schemes including health centres, geriatric wards and units for the mentally handicapped in Fife and the Lothians. He was group leader and project architect for the new Victoria Hospital, Kirkcaldy, the first general hospital to be built under the Government White Paper of 1960 in Scotland.

In 1960 Davidson was promoted to Assistant Regional Architect. He was elected FRIBA on 17 July 1968, proposed by John Holt, Alan George Jamieson and A D Leiper. In 1974 he was appointed Assistant Director and Chief Architect in the newly formed Scottish Health Service Building Division (a division of the Common Services Agency) following Health Service reorganisation in 1974. He was responsible for the major programme in Scotland, serving the fifteen Scottish Health Boards. In 1985 he became Director of the Scottish Health Service Building Division with responsibility for the Scottish Health Service Capital Programme. His staff consisted of four medical and four nursing advisors as well as architectural staff, engineers, technicians etc. His total budget per year was £120 million. He retired in 1989.

From 1960 to 1964 Davidson was Chairman of the Scottish Hospitals Study Group. This was a multidisciplinary group of architects, surveyors and building scientists charged with designing a dry modular system as part of a national modularity co-ordinated exercise for all building components in the new hospital programme for the UK. A successful system was produced and a testing system set up in association with the industry and Heriot Watt University. The partitions were manufactured by various plasterboard manufacturers and adopted throughout the hospital building programme and schools programme in the UK. This work was undertaken for the Ministry of Health.

At the Oxford Conference on architectural education it had been decided that professional management should become a part of the architectural courses at the universities. The RIBA then made this a requirement. Professor Charles Robertson who held the Chair of Architecture at Strathclyde University invited Davidson to set up a course in the Department of Architecture at Edinburgh University on management. Davidson designed the course, Advanced Practice and Management, and presented twenty lectures per year to 4th year students from 1966 to 1974. He also lectured on Post Contract Activities in the pre-Associate courses for both the University of Edinburgh and Heriot Watt. He was a member of the Joint Board of Management Studies at the two Universities.

Davidson served as an examiner for RIBA Part 3 examinations (Professional Practice Examinations) in all five University Schools of Architecture in Scotland. He was eventually Chairman of the Part 3 Examinations Board and Joint Practical Training Committee of the five Schools. He was a Council member of the RIAS and served on various sub-Committees and was a member of the Scottish Building Contracts Committee.

Davidson published a range of articles in various technical and professional journals including Hospital and Health Services Review, Health and Social Services Journal, Building Technology and Management, Faculty of Building Newsletter, Hospital Development, Building and Civil Engineering Year Book and RIAS Practice Information.

Outwith his professional life he always took a keen interest in sport. He joined Musselburgh Rugby Club and played senior rugby for the club, becoming Vice President. He also represented Edinburgh against the English Counties and played for the Scottish Co-Optimists. After he retired he became Chairman and Honorary President of the Corstorphine Trust and oversaw the rehabilitation and conversion of the 16th century Dower House at Corstorphine into a heritage centre with grants from Historic Scotland and the HLF.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 49, Eskside East, Musselburgh, Midlothian, ScotlandPrivate1954  
Item 2 of 427, Linkfield Road, Musselburgh, MidlothianPrivatec. 1960  
Item 3 of 418, Rothesay Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1968  
Item 4 of 427, Belgrave Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate1968  


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3John Holt17 July 1968For Fellowship
Item 2 of 3Alan George Jamieson17 July 1968For Fellowship
Item 3 of 3Alistair Douglas Leiper17 July 1968For Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Alan George Jamieson17 July 1968For Fellowship
Item 2 of 3James Robertson Marshall5 June 1968for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3Walter Scott2 October 1969For 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 8 District laboratories for Fife  FifeScotlandAs group leader and project architect with SERHB
Item 2 of 8 Group Laundry for hospitals in Fife  Fife ScotlandAs group leader and project architect with SERHB
Item 3 of 8 Nurses' home and training school  EdinburghScotlandAs group leader and project architect with SERHB
Item 4 of 8 Surgical HospitalKirkcaldy FifeScotlandPart of the redevelopment of Victoria Hospital - as Group Leader and Project Architect with SERHB.
Item 5 of 81955Kirkcaldy Burgh Infectious Diseases HospitalKirkcaldy FifeScotlandMajor alterations and additions to transform into a District General Hospital - as project architect and group leader with SERHB - mainly responsible for design and execution.
Item 6 of 81956Victoria Hospital, Nurses' HomeKirkcaldy  ScotlandAs Group Leader and Project Architect (RIBA papers)
Item 7 of 81968New Sick Children's Hospital  EdinburghScotlandPlans being prepared - as Assistant Regional Architect. This information comes from Davidson's Fellowship Paper although he later denies involvement.
Item 8 of 81968Nurses' residential flats  EdinburghScotlandAs Assistant Regional Architect


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 3RIBA1954RIBA Kalendar 1953-54   
Item 2 of 3RIBA1960The RIBA Kalendar 1959-19601959-1960  
Item 3 of 3RIBA1966Kalendar 1966-67   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3Interview with Eric Davidson, 20 October 2010Information to Yvonne Hillyard   
Item 2 of 3RIAS, Rutland SquareRecords of membership  
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F no6164 (Combined Box 123)