Basic Biographical Details

Name: Leslie Ower
Designation: Architect
Born: 1851
Died: 1 April 1916
Bio Notes: Leslie Ower was born in 1851 (christened on 28 April), the son of Charles Ower Senior and his wife Mary Fleet and younger brother of Charles Ower Junior. Educated at Dundee High School, he was articled to his father in September 1866. In 1872 he moved to Glasgow as assistant to the railway engineer James Fairie Blair for eighteen months which enabled him to study engineering at the Andersonian University. He returned to join his father as assistant early in 1874, his brother having returned the previous year after a period studying architecture at the South Kensington Schools. The practice became C & L Ower in May 1874, a date which probably marked the retirement of the elder Ower.

Although both Charles Junior and Leslie practised as architects and civil engineers, they had separate professional memberships. Charles sought admission only as AMICE while Leslie sought admission only as FRIBA. He was admitted on 16 June 1890, his proposers being William Mackison, John Macvicar Anderson, London, and John Holden, Manchester, the last of these also being an engineer-architect. Nevertheless it was Charles who wrote to the RIBA on 10 February 1892 setting out his views on architectural education, compulsory examination and registration, describing the current debate on whether the profession was a science or an art as 'Practical Architects versus Fancy men and Faddists.'

The Ower partnership was successful enough from the outset both as architects and engineers and it became an important teaching office. Both brothers were kindly employers by the standards of the time but in physical appearance and personality they were very different. Charles was a bigger-built bearded man, good with clients but difficult and somewhat excitable with a tendency to over-react within the office and at meetings of the Dundee Institute of Architects of which he was effectively the founder in June 1884: at the close of the meeting called by James Maclaren on the measurement of quantities he proposed a local professional body on the lines of the Architectural Association. Leslie was slim and, at least in later years, clean-shaven with a much more equable temperament. Tensions were evident from the beginning and by the 1890s, in the words of those who worked there, 'they couldn't pull together at all.' Although the architectural side of the practice seems to have been at its most prosperous between 1896 and 1898 when William Gillespie Lamond was their head draughtsman and had taken over much of the design work, the partnership was dissolved in the latter year.

Although both brothers retained a significant domestic practice the institutional and commercial clientele was largely lost following the break-up. Charles Ower continued in practice on his own account, gifting an important collection of architectural books to Dundee Public Libraries in 1900 to commemorate the relief of Mafeking which he believed would ensure an imperial future for aspiring architects and provided an endowment from which to buy more; but his own practice gradually faded and he isolated himself from the rest of the profession by his resignation from the Dundee Institute of Architects in 1903 on the trivial issue of its objection to the Dundee Wine Spirits and Beer Association seeking competitive tenders for licensing court plans. By 1914 he was practising only as a valuator from a backwater office in unfashionable Gellatly Street. He died unmarried at Benora, the large house he had built for himself in Broughty Ferry on 25 November 1921, leaving a moveable estate of 6,841 12s 0d.

After the dissolution of the partnership Leslie's blander style became more apparent, although a few works showed the more lively hand of Charles Geddes Soutar, who returned to his office in 1900 and remained with him until 1902 after a spell with John Murray Robertson. In 1908 Ower merged his practice with that of Blackadder & Allan on Robert Blackadder's retirement: there was a long-standing relationship between the Owers and the Blackadders as they had been neighbours in Craigie Terrace from 1866 to 1877. The combined practice of Leslie Ower & Allan was located in Ower's office at 5 Whitehall Street and now presented a considerably more up-to-date image. Born in 1874 and educated at Dundee High School, David Lindsay Allan had been an apprentice with John Murray Robertson from 1890 to 1894, remaining with him as assistant, and had studied at the RA Schools while in the office of Niven & Wigglesworth in London.

Late in 1912 or early in 1913 Leslie Ower was 'laid aside' by a serious illness but recovered. With business at a very low ebb because of the war, Ower retired at the beginning of 1916 while Allan was on war service, the practice being taken over by Thoms & Wilkie, whereupon, in Frank Thomson's words, Allan 'simply gave up'. Late in February of the same year, Ower became ill again and he died on 1 April 1916 at Belfield, Rosemount, Blairgowrie, a substantial mansion he had built for himself some years earlier, leaving a widow who was a daughter of the Dundee Corn Exchange merchant George Hill. His moveable estate amounted to the then very substantial sum of 16,801 14s 5d, more than twice as much as his brother had left.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4104, Commercial Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness1880 *After 1890From 1880 onwards
Item 2 of 4Craigie Terrace, Dundee, ScotlandPrivate1890 *  
Item 3 of 45, Whitehall Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1908After 1910 
Item 4 of 4Belfield, Rosemount, Blairgowrie, Perthshire, ScotlandPrivatec. 19101916 

* 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 6Charles Ower (senior)September 18661870Apprentice 
Item 2 of 6Charles Ower (senior)18701872Assistant 
Item 3 of 6James Fairlie (or Fairie or Farrie) Blair18721874Assistant 
Item 4 of 6Charles Ower (senior)1874May 1874Assistant 
Item 5 of 6C & L OwerMay 18741898Partner 
Item 6 of 6Leslie Ower & Allan19081916Partner 

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 5Charles Geddes Soutar18981899Assistant 
Item 2 of 5Arthur Boulton1898(?)1899 or early 1900sApprentice 
Item 3 of 5Charles Geddes Soutar19001902Chief Assistant 
Item 4 of 5David John Cameronc. 1902c. 1907Apprentice 
Item 5 of 5Arthur James Barclayc. 19061908Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3John Macvicar Anderson16 June 1890for Fellowship
Item 2 of 3John Holden16 June 1890for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3William Mackison16 June 1890for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 5Arthur James Barclay20 March 1911for Licentiateship
Item 2 of 5James Graham Fairley13 June 1892for Fellowship
Item 3 of 5George Jamieson27 February 1911for Licentiateship
Item 4 of 5William Macpherson16 January 1911for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 5Patrick Hill ThomsMid 1906for Fellowship

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 108 People's Journal OfficeStirling StirlingshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 2 of 1081872Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotland2nd western extension of 4 storeys
Item 3 of 1081875Boase & Co premises  Dundee Addition
Item 4 of 1081875Jute Warehouse  DundeeScotland 
Item 5 of 1081875Tenement with North of Scotland Bank belowLochee DundeeScotland 
Item 6 of 1081876West End UP Church Hall  DundeeScotland 
Item 7 of 108c. 1876Ryehill Congregation Hall  DundeeScotland 
Item 8 of 1081877Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotlandProposed completion by addition of tower
Item 9 of 1081877Houses at Loftus HouseBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 10 of 1081877Houses on Broughty Ferry Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 11 of 1081877Properties, Ramsay Place  DundeeScotland 
Item 12 of 1081877Tay Ferries Booking Office, shops and boathouse  DundeeScotlandOffices and waiting room
Item 13 of 1081877Wallacetown Church  DundeeScotlandAddition of large tower and other alterations
Item 14 of 1081878Jute Warehouse  DundeeScotlandAddition of storey to warehouse
Item 15 of 1081878Stewart & Son's Whisky Bond  DundeeScotlandTop floor added
Item 16 of 108c. 1878Ferry StationNewport-on-Tay FifeScotland 
Item 17 of 108c. 1878Row of single storey shops, Boat BraeNewport-on-Tay FifeScotland 
Item 18 of 108187910 Dudhope Terrace  DundeeScotlandAddition
Item 19 of 1081879Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 20 of 1081879Dundee Perth & London Shipping Company Offices  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 21 of 1081879Houses on Ellen Street for William Benvie  DundeeScotland 
Item 22 of 1081879Tay Ferries Booking Office, shops and boathouse  DundeeScotlandLodge, barrow shed and luggage room
Item 23 of 1081880sMurroes Parish ChurchMurroes AngusScotlandProbably designed stained glass windows
Item 24 of 10818802 Roseangle  DundeeScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 25 of 108188057 Magdalen Yard Road  DundeeScotlandRemodelling and enlargement to west
Item 26 of 10818808 Roseangle  DundeeScotlandOriels added
Item 27 of 1081880Cottage for Henry McGrady  DundeeScotland 
Item 28 of 1081880Scottish Banking Company  DundeeScotlandMajor reconstruction with new elevations
Item 29 of 1081880Seymour Lodge  DundeeScotlandOriginal house and additions
Item 30 of 1081880Tenement with Shops on Blackness Road and Watson Lane  DundeeScotland 
Item 31 of 108c. 1880Warehouses, Shop and Dwelling House for Mr Hynd  DundeeScotland 
Item 32 of 1081881Carnoustie Young Men's Christian Association BuildingCarnoustie AngusScotland 
Item 33 of 1081881Houses for James Gentle  DundeeScotland 
Item 34 of 1081881Newburgh Public HallNewburgh FifeScotlandReading room and coffee house
Item 35 of 1081881Royal Exchange, Merchants' Shelter  DundeeScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 36 of 1081881Terrace of houses, Airlie Place  DundeeScotlandAlterations to No 1, including addition of mansard attic
Item 37 of 1081881Terraced houses, South Tay Street  DundeeScotlandRemodelling to form YWCA
Item 38 of 1081881Trinity UP ChurchNewport-on-Tay FifeScotland 
Item 39 of 1081881Villa for W G Thomson   Scotland 
Item 40 of 1081882Blackness Home Farmhouse  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 41 of 1081882Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotlandExtension to west end
Item 42 of 1081882Glasgow Municipal Buildings  GlasgowScotlandExhibited design for municipal buildings and public offices - unspecified but probably for the second competition - not successful
Item 43 of 1081882Hilltown Free Mission Church and SchoolHilltown DundeeScotland 
Item 44 of 1081882Ladywell Calender Works  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 45 of 1081882Offices and Warehouses for Bailie Philips  DundeeScotland 
Item 46 of 1081882Polepark Works  DundeeScotlandAdditions
Item 47 of 1081882Warehouse, Seagate  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 48 of 10818834 Gowrie Street, Houses for David Gemmell  DundeeScotland 
Item 49 of 1081883Balmerino Parish ChurchBalmerino FifeScotlandGothic remodelling
Item 50 of 1081883Dundee Harbour Office  DundeeScotland 
Item 51 of 1081883J Carmichael & Co Premises  DundeeScotlandWarehouse and new moulding shop
Item 52 of 1081883Panmure Street MissionHilltown DundeeScotland 
Item 53 of 1081883Pitlochry West ChurchPitlochry PerthshireScotland 
Item 54 of 1081883Terraced Houses, 2, 4 and 6 Hyndford Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 55 of 1081883Villas for Bailie Gentle  DundeeScotlandVillas
Item 56 of 108c. 1883Shipping Offices  DundeeScotland 
Item 57 of 1081884Dundee Custom House and Harbour Chambers  DundeeScotlandEnlargement of Harbour Chambers section
Item 58 of 1081885Kirriemuir Town Hall and libraryKirriemuir AngusScotland 
Item 59 of 108c. 1885Terraced Houses, 3, 5 and 7 Rockfield Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 60 of 108c. 1885Terraced houses, Rockfield Street and Shaftesbury Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 61 of 1081886Villas for Bailie Gentle  DundeeScotlandFurther villas
Item 62 of 1081887Balmerino Parish Church hallBalmerino FifeScotland 
Item 63 of 1081887Young Men's Christian Association Building  DundeeScotlandAdditions - cost 1,400
Item 64 of 1081888J Carmichael & Co Premises  DundeeScotlandAdditions to foundry
Item 65 of 108c. 1888TircarraBarnhill DundeeScotlandAddition of west wing
Item 66 of 1081889Carnoustie Young Men's Christian Association BuildingCarnoustie AngusScotlandFurther work
Item 67 of 1081889Downfield Free ChurchDownfield DundeeScotland 
Item 68 of 1081889Dundee Courier and Dundee Advertiser Offices  DundeeScotlandFurther enlargement - cost c. 3,300 - and tunnel under Bank Street.
Item 69 of 1081889Villa on Norwood Crescent  DundeeScotland 
Item 70 of 1081890Ann Street Works, Engine House  DundeeScotland 
Item 71 of 1081890Ardvorlich HouseComrie PerthshireScotland 
Item 72 of 1081890Constable Works Engine House  DundeeScotlandReconstruction
Item 73 of 1081890Duncraig  DundeeScotland 
Item 74 of 1081890Edward Street Mill, Logie Works  DundeeScotlandEngine House
Item 75 of 1081890Free St Paul's Overgate Mission  DundeeScotland 
Item 76 of 1081890Masonic HallLadybank FifeScotland 
Item 77 of 1081890Model tenements, Broughty Ferry Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 78 of 1081890St Mary's Manse  DundeeScotland 
Item 79 of 108c. 1890House for Leng on Blackness Road (Redcroft)  DundeeScotland 
Item 80 of 108c. 1890House for Watson on Blackness Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 81 of 108c. 1890House on Blackness Terrace  DundeeScotland 
Item 82 of 108c. 1890House on Perth Road for Peter Kerr  DundeeScotland 
Item 83 of 108c. 1890Semi-detached villas, Somerville Place  DundeeScotlandAlterations and additions - raised from single- to two-storey villas
Item 84 of 108c. 1890Villas, Albany Terrace  DundeeScotland 
Item 85 of 1081891Ward Foundry drawing office  DundeeScotland 
Item 86 of 1081892Home HouseBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandAddition
Item 87 of 1081892LindaBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 88 of 1081894WoodknoweBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 89 of 1081895Tenements on Lyon Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 90 of 1081895The Anchorage  DundeeScotland 
Item 91 of 1081896Inglis Memorial Hall and LibraryEdzell AngusScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 92 of 1081896Lochee Road UP Church  DundeeScotland 
Item 93 of 1081896Pearl Assurance Building  DundeeScotlandDesign mainly by Lamond
Item 94 of 1081897Bannatyne HouseNewtyle AngusScotlandAlterations and additions to form Bannatyne Home of Rest (additions since demolished, original house survives)
Item 95 of 1081897British Linen Bank  DundeeScotlandDesign mainly by W G Lamond
Item 96 of 1081898Park UP Church  DundeeScotland 
Item 97 of 1081899Ferryport-on-Craig Parish ChurchFerryport-on-Craig FifeScotlandAlterations at installation of organ
Item 98 of 108190011 Rockfield Crescent  DundeeScotland 
Item 99 of 1081900Balgowan  DundeeScotland'Style of' (HS)
Item 100 of 1081902Edward Street Mill, Logie Works  DundeeScotlandAdditions
Item 101 of 1081908Offices, 2 King Street  DundeeScotland 
Item 102 of 1081909Drill Hall  DundeeScotlandReconstruction
Item 103 of 1081909Drill Hall  DundeeScotland 
Item 104 of 1081909Ladywell Calender Works  DundeeScotlandFurther alterations?
Item 105 of 1081910CottageInvergowrie Perthshire/AngusScotland 
Item 106 of 108c. 1910BelfieldBlairgowrie PerthshireScotlandFor himself
Item 107 of 1081911Cinema, Shepherd's Loan  DundeeScotland 
Item 108 of 1081913Kirriemuir Town Hall and libraryKirriemuir AngusScotlandLibrary addition to west


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4Architecture in Manuscript 1601-1906 Architecture in Manuscript 1601-1906, 1022  p303
Item 2 of 4Johnston, W T2003Artists of Scotland Officina Publications CDROM 
Item 3 of 4Post Office Directories     
Item 4 of 4Walker, Bruce and Gauldie, W Sinclair1984Architects and Architecture on Tayside Dundee: Dundee Institute of Architectsp173 et seq.

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Dundee Courier and Advertiser3 April 1916  Obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from Joseph Johnston, Frank Thomson and W Sinclair Gauldie (relayed from his father William Gauldie)
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v10 p51, microfiche 108/A5