Basic Biographical Details

Name: J D Cairns & Ford
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: June 1928
Bio Notes: James Davidson Cairns was born on 26 December 1866 and educated at George Watson's Boys' College. He served his apprenticeship from 1882 in the office of Charles Stewart Still Johnston and then in the office of Robert Morham, who worked both in private practice and as architect to the City of Edinburgh. He attended the Edinburgh School of Art and on completion of his apprenticeship became a draughtsman in the office of Rowand Anderson, remaining there for four and a half years. He then moved to the office of Francis Edward Ward in Belfast for two years, finally becoming chief assistant to Hippolyte Jean Blanc where he remained for fourteen and half years and had full charge of the staff of 12 to 14 people. Having won the competition for Crail United Free Church, he commenced independent practice in 1908. He was admitted LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911, his proposers being James Bow Dunn and the Edinburgh Architectural Association; and was admitted FRIBA early in 1929, his proposers being James Alexander Arnott, John Begg and John Wilson.

In 1928 he took his then chief draughtsman James Fulton Ford into partnership. Ford had been born on 31 October 1889, the son of William Ford, police sergeant, and had been educated at Leith Public School and from 29 September 1903 until 19 July 1905 at George Heriot's School. He had served his articles with Thomas Duncan Rhind from 1906, attending classes at Edinburgh College of Art and taking study tours of Scotland in his spare time. On completing his apprenticeship in 1911 he had remained as draughtsman, and had been promoted to chief draughtsman by the time he commenced war service with the Royal Scots in 1914. At the end of the war in 1919 he had spent a short period as draughtsman in the office of David McArthy of Edinburgh before obtaining the appointment of chief draughtsman with James Davidson Cairns in 1920.

The office of J D Cairns & Ford was at 63 George Street, Edinburgh. From 1938 Arthur Bain Morrison entered the partnership, the practice title remaining unchanged. Ford was admitted LRIBA on 15 February 1944, his proposers being Cairns, Thomas Forbes Maclennan and John Ross McKay. He was also an Associate of the Edinburgh Architectural Association.

Cairns designed a wide range of buildings including churches, hotels, restaurants, houses and schools. He was architect to the Peeblesshire Education Committee for many years (from 1914 he resided in Peebles) and the experience he gained from this led to his appointment as advisory architect to the Scottish Education Department from 1925, an appointment which he held until his resignation in 1944. He was concerned during this period with the improvement of planning in school buildings throughout Scotland. Later when he was a member of the committee which undertook the preparation of the new School Building Regulations, his knowledge and experience was of great assistance. He acted as Assessor for the competitions for Greenock High School, Perth Academy and Alloa Public School.

Cairns was particularly interested in church architecture, and following the Church of Scotland (Property and Endowments) Act 1925 was appointed by the Church's General Trustees to report on the condition of the fabrics of the parish churches and manses within the presbytery of Peebles, subsequently supervising the consequent restoration work. In addition, as Architect to the Comiston and Colinton House Estates near Edinburgh and the Haystoun Estate in Peebles, he had control of the development of land in these areas.

Cairns made various study tours both in Britain - including every cathedral city in England - and on the Continent, travelling in Belgium, Holland, Germany, France and Italy. He revised several textbooks for the International Correspondence Schools, including those for Specification Writing, Specification Memoranda, Stair Building and Joinery.

When fellow Edinburgh architect Charles Edward Tweedie Junior died on 11 February 1947, J D Cairns & Ford temporarily took over his business whilst his two sons completed their architectural training. Cairns died on 25 November that year, aged 81; he was then one of the oldest members of the Edinburgh Architectural Association, having joined prior to 1887. He had also been a Fellow of the RIAS since its inception. He was a fine draughtsman and took great pleasure in working out in detail a complicated plan. His obituarist describes him as 'kindly, considerate and upright'.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4Meadowbank Building/67, Marionville Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness   
Item 2 of 463, George Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessJune 1928After 1947 
Item 3 of 4116, Hanover Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1964After 1970 
Item 4 of 448, Melville Street, Edinburgh, Scotland Before March 1950  

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 11Arthur Bain ('Tim') Morrison19241927Junior Assistant 
Item 2 of 11Thomas Stanley Aitchison KennedyApril 1925December 1936Assistant 
Item 3 of 11Arthur Bain ('Tim') Morrison19281938Senior Assistant 
Item 4 of 11James Fulton FordJune 1928 Partner 
Item 5 of 11James Davidson CairnsJune 1928Before 1947Partner 
Item 6 of 11Colin William Glendinning19321936Assistant 
Item 7 of 11Arthur Bain ('Tim') Morrison19381963Partner 
Item 8 of 11George Gilroy Graham19551957Senior Architect 
Item 9 of 11(Miss) Anne Duff 19561957Architect 
Item 10 of 11George Sinclair Gibson Steedman1970After 1980Partner 
Item 11 of 11John Jackson1970 *After 1980Partner 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice 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 421928Premises for Messrs Peter Allan Ltd  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction
Item 2 of 42After 1928Two-storey cottages, Edinburgh RoadPeebles PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 3 of 421930Bakery for McVitie & Guest  EdinburghScotland 
Item 4 of 421931Eastwark HousePeebles PeeblesshireScotlandShopfront
Item 5 of 42After 1932(?)Caretaker's cottage  Edinburgh?ScotlandProbably responsible - with Colin William Glendinning as assistant
Item 6 of 42After 1932Edinburgh College of Domestic Science, 1-2 Drumsheugh Gardens  EdinburghScotlandProbably responsible - with Colin William Glendinning as assistant
Item 7 of 42After 1932(?)House, Oxgangs Road  EdinburghScotlandProbably responsible - with Colin William Glendinning as assistant
Item 8 of 42After 1932(?)Nurses' cottage  Edinburgh?ScotlandProbably responsible - with Colin William Glendinning as assistant
Item 9 of 42After 1932(?)Road widening, Comiston Estate  EdinburghScotlandProbably responsible - with Colin William Glendinning as assistant
Item 10 of 421933New warehouse premises  EdinburghScotland 
Item 11 of 42c. 1933Medical HallPeebles PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 12 of 421934College of Domestic Science  EdinburghScotlandAdditions and reconstruction
Item 13 of 421935DunalistairColinton EdinburghScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 14 of 421935Macvitties Guest & Co / McVities Guest & Co shop and tea room  EdinburghScotlandAddition on South Charlotte Street
Item 15 of 42c. 1935Bank of ScotlandPeebles PeeblesshireScotlandNew bank on old site
Item 16 of 421937Heriot Brewery premisesRoseburn EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 421938Queen's District Nurses premises, Castle Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 18 of 421950Fountain Brewery for William McEwan & Co  EdinburghScotlandArchitects for new tun room
Item 19 of 421950Hostel, Walker Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 20 of 42December 1950College of Domestic Science  EdinburghScotlandWarrant granted by Dean of Guild Court for the reconstruction and alterations of its premises. The cost of reconstruction of 11,300
Item 21 of 421951Rialto Picture HouseKirkcaldy FifeScotlandStalls, Screen, Toilets, modernisation
Item 22 of 421951Tron Moredun  EdinburghScotlandThe names of the partners at this date are not yet known
Item 23 of 421964Royal High School  EdinburghScotlandCairns & Ford who took over the Forbes & Reid practice and were mainly responsible.
Item 24 of 421970sCaravan ParkMortonhall EdinburghScotland 
Item 25 of 421970sCastle warehousePeebles PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 26 of 421970sFactory for Rowntree Mackintosh  EdinburghScotland 
Item 27 of 421970sGeorge Stewart & Co Factory  EdinburghScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 28 of 421970sH Ballantyne & Sons textile millWalkerburn PeeblesshireScotlandAlterations
Item 29 of 421970sHousing for Comben Homes LtdNewburgh FifeScotland 
Item 30 of 421970sMartin & Frost's premises  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction
Item 31 of 421970sRoyal Bank branches  EdinburghScotland 
Item 32 of 421970sShell Bay Caravan ParkLeven FifeScotland 
Item 33 of 421970sWaren Mill Caravan ParkBelford NorthumberlandEngland 
Item 34 of 421972Holy Trinity Church  EdinburghScotlandThe names of the partners at this date are not yet known
Item 35 of 421972Holy Trinity Church of ScotlandWester Hailes EdinburghScotland 
Item 36 of 421973Royal High School  EdinburghScotlandAdditions
Item 37 of 42Before 1975Forrester High School  EdinburghScotlandGames complex added
Item 38 of 42Before 1975George Heriot's Hospital  EdinburghScotlandRefectory and kitchen
Item 39 of 42Before 1975Housing for Comben Homes LtdAlness Ross and CromartyScotland 
Item 40 of 42Before 1975Old People's Home  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction
Item 41 of 421976Royal Bank, Cramond  EdinburghScotland 
Item 42 of 42Before 1981Dairy complex for Murchies CreameryLoanhead MidlothianScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 3Municipal Annual1964Scottish Municipal Annual1964-1965  
Item 2 of 3RIBA1939The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 3 of 3RIBA1970RIBA Directory 1970   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 4Builder1 December 1950  p582
Item 2 of 4Builder3 February 1950  p181
Item 3 of 4Builder3 March 1950  p309
Item 4 of 4RIAS QuarterlyMay 1948 Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)Obituary of James Davidson Cairns