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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Thomas Lennox Watson
Designation: Architect
Born: 21 August 1850
Died: 12 October 1920
Bio Notes: Thomas Lennox Watson was born in Glasgow on 21 August 1850, the son of Charles Watson and his wife Elizabeth (or Eliza, whose maiden name was also Watson) of 11 Loudon Terrace, Glasgow. His father was a member of the great shipping-owning firm of G & J Burns and the naval architect George Lennox Watson was his cousin. His elder sister Isabella was to become the principal of a primary school. Thomas was educated at Glasgow High School, articled to Boucher & Cousland in 1866, and studied at Glasgow School of Art under Charles Heath Wilson. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1871 he found a place as an assistant in the London office of Alfred Waterhouse, and returned to Glasgow to commence practice in 1874, initially at 137 West Regent Street, moving to number 108 of the same street soon thereafter. He came into prominence very early, securing the commissions for the free classical Adelaide Place Baptist Church, Glasgow (1875-6) and for the Gothic Kilmacolm Hydropathic (1878) and winning the competitions for the neo-Romanesque Victoria Baths Club, Glasgow and North UP Church in Perth (1876-8 and 1878) and the gigantic neo-Roman Wellington UP Church in Glasgow (1882). He was admitted FRIBA on 9 June 1884, his proposers being John Honeyman, Alfred Waterhouse and Arthur Cates.

Watson's experience with Waterhouse showed most obviously in his Romanesque competition design for Glasgow Municipal Buildings, one of the very few non-classical designs to be submitted. In his larger domestic commissions Watson drew more from Norman Shaw's Old English than from Waterhouse, a development that may in some degree have been associated with William James Anderson, who was his chief assistant from c.1883 until 1888. Anderson certainly drew out the high quality Renaissance detail of his Citizen Building in St Vincent Place.

In or about 1907 Watson took Henry Mitchell into partnership. Born at Renton in 1864 Mitchell was the son of Francis Mitchell, a gem and seal engraver, and his wife Mary Liddel. He had been articled to Campbell Douglas & Sellars from 1884 until 1889 and had worked for Honeyman & Keppie prior to forming a partnership with William Tait Conner in 1894. This had not prospered and neither had his second partnership with Charles Edward Whitelaw formed in 1902. Together Watson and Mitchell completed the very large block at 396-450 Sauchiehall Street, but the partnership was brief. It ran out of work and by 1914 Mitchell was practising alone from his house at 20 Sutherland Street, Helensburgh while Watson was maintaining a small studio separate from his house at 534 Sauchiehall Street.

Watson's date of retirement is variously given as 1911 (British Architectural Library/RIBA 'Directory of British Architects 1834-1914') and 1917 (RIBAJ Obituary), but he never retired completely, exhibiting at the Royal Glasgow Institute until 1918. His work was widely published, some of it in continental journals and he was prominent in professional life as a council member of the RIBA, President of the Glasgow Institute of Architects and of the Glasgow Architectural Association and as Governor of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College. For a time prior to 1893 he was an examiner for those sitting the RIBA's qualifying exam in Glasgow. In his later years he became a pioneer in prefabrication. Professor Alexander McGibbon related how he took out patents for hollow walls and monolithic construction in concrete. These were put to the test in a cottage at Kilbirnie with walls hardened on the flat which were raised vertical in one and a half hours. He also campaigned vigorously for a high-level bridge over the Clyde, exhibiting a design for it at the RGI in 1918.

In person Watson was described by 'Quiz' and others as 'somewhat reserved' but 'Quiz' (probably Macaulay Stevenson) found that 'from a more intimate acquaintance one is impressed by his great seriousness thoroughness and integrity'. Malcolm Stark described him as 'resourceful, precise, and business-like'. Like Honeyman he was a notable antiquary particularly in respect of Glasgow Cathedral. His theory that the central vault of the lower church was a departure from the original plan was at first accepted by MacGibbon and Ross but later repudiated after it was disputed by Peter Macgregor Chalmers. This resulted in Watson's major book, 'The Double Choir of Glasgow Cathedral,' in which he adhered to his original analysis with a detailed dissection of the building history of the lower church.

Watson died of cancer at 11 Loudoun Terrace on 12 October 1920. He left a legacy of 100 free of duty to the Glasgow Institute of Architects (a prize bearing his name is still awarded today). He had been married to Margaret Barr-Watson Pennell.

The architectural history of Glasgow Cathedral, or the autobiography of a cathedral. Glasgow, 1901
The double choir of Glasgow Cathedral: a study of rib vaulting. Glasgow: 1901
With H Ries: Elements of engineering geology, 1947 (posthumous?)
Communications, or, an urgent measure of economy, 1918 (Plan) showing advantages of a fixed bridge across the Clyde in the line of Elderslie Street, Govan, Glasgow

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 725, Lynedoch Crescent, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate(?)1871 *  
Item 2 of 7137, West Regent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1874 *  
Item 3 of 7108, West Regent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 18791895 or 1896 
Item 4 of 78, Woodside Crescent, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1888 *1901 
Item 5 of 7166, Bath Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1895 or 1896After 1911 
Item 6 of 7534, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1916 *  
Item 7 of 711, Loudon Terrace, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 191812 October 1920 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3Boucher & Cousland18661871Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3Alfred Waterhouse18711874Assistant 
Item 3 of 3Watson & Mitchell1907 or 1909Before 1917Partner 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 17William James Andersonc. 18831888Chief Assistant 
Item 2 of 17Larmont Douglas PenmanJune 18841889Apprentice 
Item 3 of 17Allan Graham18851890Apprentice 
Item 4 of 17Larmont Douglas Penman18891890Assistant 
Item 5 of 17Allan Graham18911894Assistant 
Item 6 of 17George Dykes18921898Apprentice 
Item 7 of 17Leslie Dowie18931896Assistant 
Item 8 of 17David McLeod Craik18941894Assistant 
Item 9 of 17Leslie Dowie18941896Senior Assistant 
Item 10 of 17Charles Edward Whitelawc. 1894c. 1896Chief Draughtsman 
Item 11 of 17Andrew SharpAfter 18961900Assistant 
Item 12 of 17William Hector Mackenzie18981900Assistant 
Item 13 of 17Thomas McLaren1898 or 18991902Assistant 
Item 14 of 17Gavin Lennox19001901Assistant 
Item 15 of 17George Dykes19001903Draughtsman 
Item 16 of 17George Gerard HowardSeptember 1912January 1915Apprentice 
Item 17 of 17Donald John CameronAfter 1914Before 1922Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Arthur Cates9 June 1884for Fellowship
Item 2 of 3John Honeyman9 June 1884for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3Alfred Waterhouse9 June 1884for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 36Alexander Adam27 March 1911for Associateship
Item 2 of 36Andrew Danskine Aitken5 March 1906for Associateship
Item 3 of 36William James Anderson5 June 1893for Associateship
Item 4 of 36James Alexander Arnott1910for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 36George Bell II3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 6 of 36William Tait Conner2 March 1891for Associateship
Item 7 of 36Vernon Constable2 March 1908for Associateship
Item 8 of 36William Cowie5 June 1893for Associateship
Item 9 of 36James Bow Dunn5 June 1905for Fellowship
Item 10 of 36George Dykes29 February 1904for Associateship
Item 11 of 36John Fairweather11 June 1894for Associateship
Item 12 of 36Charles Forsyth30 November 1908for Associateship
Item 13 of 36Thomas Spiers Fraser5 March 1906for Associateship
Item 14 of 36John Gaff Gillespie3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 15 of 36Charles Gourlay13 June 1889for Associateship
Item 16 of 36Allan Graham1 March 1908for Associateship
Item 17 of 36George Gunn11 March 1895for Associateship
Item 18 of 36Henry HigginsEarly 1911for Licentiateship
Item 19 of 36James HoustonEarly 1920for Associateship
Item 20 of 36James Kennedy Hunter11 June 1906for Fellowship
Item 21 of 36James Lochhead11 June 1894for Associateship
Item 22 of 36John Andrew MacAra13 January 1890for Associateship
Item 23 of 36Charles Rennie Mackintosh3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 24 of 36Thomas McLaren2 March 1903for Associateship
Item 25 of 36James Campbell Reid4 March 1907for Associateship
Item 26 of 36Andrew Robertson5 June 1893for Associateship
Item 27 of 36John Rogerson13 January 1890for Associateship
Item 28 of 36James Salmon (junior)3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 29 of 36Robert Douglas Sandilands11 June 1906for Fellowship
Item 30 of 36Archibald Scott5 December 1904for Associateship
Item 31 of 36Andrew Sharp3 February 1902for Associateship
Item 32 of 36George Sinclair30 November 1896for Associateship
Item 33 of 36Alexander Skirving11 June 1906for Fellowship
Item 34 of 36Walter Stephen Tucker3 February 1902for Associateship
Item 35 of 36John White4 December 1893for Associateship
Item 36 of 36George Penrose Kennedy Young8 June 1885for Associateship

Buildings and Designs

This architect 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 68 Flat in Loudon Street  GlasgowScotlandDate not known
Item 2 of 68 Mohican Yacht Interior    Date not known
Item 3 of 68 Oatlands Established CurchOatlands GlasgowScotlandDate not known
Item 4 of 681871Design for a country residence     
Item 5 of 681875Baptist Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 6 of 681875John Knox Street Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 7 of 681876Kilmacolm HydropathicKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 8 of 681876Victoria Baths Club  GlasgowScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 9 of 681877Evening Citizen offices and printing worksCentral GlasgowScotlandDate of original office building as given in Watson's FRIBA nomination papers
Item 10 of 681878BelmontGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandProposed new building (not built)
Item 11 of 681878North UP ChurchPerth PerthshireScotlandWon competition
Item 12 of 681879Philosophical Society Rooms  GlasgowScotlandWith W J Millar, integrated in design with Adelaide Place Church
Item 13 of 681880Glasgow Municipal Buildings  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design entered under the pseudonym Lapidas Loquinuntur
Item 14 of 681881Board SchoolMaryhill? Glasgow?Scotland 
Item 15 of 681881Greenfield UP ChurchGovan GlasgowScotland 
Item 16 of 681881RedcoteHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 17 of 681881Rockbank House and LodgeHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandStables, coachman's house, and addition of attic storey to lodge
Item 18 of 681881St George's Road School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 19 of 681882St John's Wesleyan Methodist Church  GlasgowScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 20 of 681883Baptist ChurchHillhead GlasgowScotland 
Item 21 of 681883Crieff UP ChurchStrathearn, Crieff PerthshireScotland 
Item 22 of 681883Wellington UP Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 23 of 681885Coats Memorial Baptist ChurchPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandCompetition design - sent uninvited but placed before several of the invited designs
Item 24 of 681885Evening Citizen offices and printing worksCentral GlasgowScotlandDate of original building as given in Williamson, Riches & Higgs
Item 25 of 681886Baptist Church  BristolEngland 
Item 26 of 681888Royal Clyde Yacht Club and HotelDunoon ArgyllScotlandArchitect of present building, appointed after competition
Item 27 of 68c. 1888WoodcroftLarbert StirlingshireScotland 
Item 28 of 681890CurlinghallLargs AyrshireScotlandWings added
Item 29 of 681891Glasgow Art Gallery and MuseumKelvingrove GlasgowScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 30 of 681891(?)Paisley Board SchoolPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandWon competition
Item 31 of 681891Paisley South SchoolPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandComplete reconstruction of earlier school by William Stewart
Item 32 of 681891RedhallKelvinside GlasgowScotland 
Item 33 of 681892Burgh HallCove DunbartonshireScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 34 of 681892Church of St PeterDrogheda  Eire 
Item 35 of 681892New Premises for William MacalpinePaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 36 of 68Before 1893Steam Yacht Britannia, interiors     
Item 37 of 68Before 1893Steam Yacht Foros, interiors     
Item 38 of 68Before 1893Steam Yacht Irene, interiors     
Item 39 of 681894Adelphi Terrace School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 40 of 681895Paisley Grammar School and William Barbour AcademyPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandDesign - presumably unsuccessful competition entry
Item 41 of 68Before 1895Glenburn HydropathicRothesayButeButeScotlandCompetition design
Item 42 of 681896Acme Tea Chest Factory  GlasgowScotland 
Item 43 of 681896Board SchoolMaryhill? Glasgow?ScotlandProposed addition
Item 44 of 681896Glasgow School of Art  GlasgowScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 45 of 681896Paisley South SchoolPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandAdditions
Item 46 of 681896Steam Yacht Margarita II, interior     
Item 47 of 681897ArdbegKilmun ArgyllScotlandStudio
Item 48 of 681897Building in Woodside CrescentWoodside GlasgowScotland 
Item 49 of 681897Glasgow Cathedral, Monument to Dr James Hedderwick  GlasgowScotland 
Item 50 of 681898Gairbraid Public SchoolMaryhill GlasgowScotland 
Item 51 of 68189959 Bath Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 52 of 681900396-450 Sauchiehall Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 53 of 681900Glasgow Royal Infirmary  GlasgowScotlandThird premiated competition design - in collaboration with Henry Mitchell
Item 54 of 681900Steam Yacht Margarita III, interior    Interiors
Item 55 of 68c. 1900BirnamGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandWon in competition
Item 56 of 68c. 1900Broadoak HouseAccrington LancashireEngland 
Item 57 of 68c. 1900Rosemount Buildings  GlasgowScotland 
Item 58 of 68Late 1900 or early 1901Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design submitted after invitation (in collaboration with Henry Mitchell) - unsuccessful
Item 59 of 681904Garnetbank School  GlasgowScotlandNew build
Item 60 of 681906Tenements, Barochan Place, Argyll StreetCampbeltown ArgyllScotlandNot completed until 1915
Item 61 of 681909Ashfield House  GlasgowScotland 
Item 62 of 681909Fleming's LandCampbeltown ArgyllScotland 
Item 63 of 681909Tenements, Main Street and Longrow SouthCampbeltown ArgyllScotland 
Item 64 of 68c. 1909Meteor Yacht Interior     
Item 65 of 681911HouseWhitecraigs GlasgowScotland 
Item 66 of 681916Giffnock Estate ChurchGiffnock RenfrewshireScotlandSketch design exhibited
Item 67 of 681918Proposed new street from Argyle Street to Scotland Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 68 of 68c. 1919Royal Technical College War Memorial (within Barclay building)  GlasgowScotlandDesign


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 4Drummond, Maldwin1979Salt-water Palaces London: Debrett's Peerage Limited 
Item 3 of 4Walker, Frank Arneil1986South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew  p33, p135
Item 4 of 4Who's Who in Glasgow1909    

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 4Builder22 October 1920   
Item 2 of 4Builder29 October 1920   
Item 3 of 4Quiz10 August 1893   
Item 4 of 4RIBA Journal6 November 1920 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary, p20

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v7 p83, microfiche 98/E7


© All rights reserved. Who 

© All rights reserved. Who's who in Glasgow 1909

© All rights reserved.  Glasgow Institute of Architects 

© All rights reserved. Glasgow Institute of Architects