Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Ronald Beaton
Designation: Architect
Born: 25 March 1915
Died: 28 August 1990
Bio Notes: John Ronald Beaton was born at 58 Ashvale Place, Aberdeen on 25 March 1915, the son of William Robertson Beaton, grocer's assistant and his wife Mary Ann Robb. They had married in St Machar's in Aberdeen in 1912. John Ronald Beaton commenced his studies at Aberdeen School of Architecture on 29 August 1932. He was apprenticed in the Aberdeen office of A Marshall Mackenzie & Son from 15 July 1935, returning to the School of Art on 25 October 1937 to complete his studies. He obtained his diploma on 17 June 1938 and was appointed assistant architect in the Edinburgh firm of Dick Peddie, Todd & Jamieson the following month. In February 1939 he moved to Glasgow to join the Glasgow Corporation Housing Department as an assistant, and four months later on 19 June he was admitted ARIBA, his proposers being Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie, Robert Leslie Rollo, and John Gibb Marr who described him as 'a good all-round man & interested in the Profession'.

Beaton served with the 14th Army of the Royal Engineers from March 1940, spending the war years in India and Burma. He was Lieutenant-Colonel under General Slim and latterly Lord Louis Mountbatten. He attained the rank of Major. He returned to the Glasgow Corporation as Principal Architect on his demobilisation in March 1946.

He emigrated with his wife Margaret A Beaton and baby daughter to South Africa in October 1948, and was appointed Senior Assistant to Durban Corporation. He moved again in April 1950 and joined the offices of the Government of Northern Rhodesia. He was working for the Ministry of Transport in Lusaka when he was elected FRIBA on 11 April 1961, proposed by Peter Dunbar Lawson, Alfred Lloyd Spencer and George Clifford Duke. By that time he had been responsible for a large programme of school building: 900,000 in 1954-7, 700,000 in 1957-8, 600,000 in 1958-9 and 400,000 in 1959-60.

He was subsequently appointed Assistant Director Buildings in the Ministry of Public Works, and he remained in that position until the end of 1965 when he commenced independent practice in Durban. He seesm to have been in partnershiop with Alfred Lloyd Spencer as Beaton & Lloyd Spencer.

Beaton retired in 1985 and died suddenly of leukaemia on 28 August 1990, survived by his wife, daughter, son-in-law and two grandsons. In a letter notifying the RIBA of his death, his widow described him as an 'all-round sportsman, but he was a keen golfer first and foremost all his life'.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4c/o Miss Young/307, Crofthill Road, Croftfoot, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1939 *  
Item 2 of 4Lusaka, Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia toBusiness1960 *  
Item 3 of 4Durban, Zimbabwe (Southern Rhodesia toBusiness1965  
Item 4 of 4Suite 1807, Eagle Buildings/355-361, West Street, Durban, Natal, South AfricaBusiness1970s  

* 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 6A Marshall Mackenzie & Son15 July 1935June 1938Apprentice 
Item 2 of 6Dick Peddie, Todd & JamiesonJuly 1938February 1939Assistant 
Item 3 of 6Glasgow Corporation Housing Department (later Architectural & Planning Department, Glasgow Corporation)February 1939March 1940Assistant 
Item 4 of 6Glasgow Corporation Housing Department (later Architectural & Planning Department, Glasgow Corporation)March 1946October 1948Principal Architect 
Item 5 of 6Durban CorporationNovember 1948April 1950Senior Assistant 
Item 6 of 6Government of Northern RhodesiaMay 1950Mid 1965 Various posts


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6George Clifford Duke11 April 1961for Fellowship
Item 2 of 6Peter Dunbar Lawson11 April 1961for Fellowship
Item 3 of 6Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie19 June 1939for Associateship
Item 4 of 6John Gibb Marr19 June 1939for Associateship
Item 5 of 6Robert Leslie Rollo19 June 1939for Associateship
Item 6 of 6Alfred Lloyd Spencer11 April 1961for Fellowship


Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A no7209 (stored under F5506, combined box 84); F no5506 (combined box 84); letter from wife, 15 Nov 1990, following his death
Item 2 of 2School of Architecture, Garthdee, Aberdeen, RGIT: former pupils, 1937-1970Galletly, James