Basic Biographical Details

Name: Robert Watson
Designation: Architect
Born: 1865
Died: February 1916
Bio Notes: Robert Watson was born in 1865. He attended classes at the Edinburgh Institution from 1877 to 1881 and although it was first proposed that he become an engineer, he inclined to architecture and was a pupil of Robert Paterson & Son in Edinburgh from October 1881. In 1884 he joined the office of Hippolyte Jean Blanc, where he remained until February 1887, passing the qualifying exam the following month. When working on some drawings of Dunblane Cathedral he came into contact with Hew Wardrop and Robert Rowand Anderson and thereafter worked in their office; Anderson later described him as 'efficient in every way & a zealous student of Architecture', before moving to London originally intending to stay briefly before emigrating to Canada. He found employment on the Exhibition Buildings at Earl’s Court, and then went to work for James Marjoribanks MacLaren. He was admitted ARIBA on 11 June 1888, his proposers being Anderson, John James Stevenson, and John McKean Brydon. He commenced independent practice in 1890 and in that year, together with William Dunn, succeeded to MacLaren's practice, entering into full partnership with Dunn. He was elevated to FRIBA on 5 December 1904, his proposers being Charles Edward Mallows, Francis William Bedford and Alfred William Stephens Cross.

Watson worked with Dunn ‘side by side in the same room on the same works, sometimes on the same drawings’. Broadly, Dunn was concerned with drawings being ‘clear and logical: building services were, however, also a particular Watson specialisation’. The practice was hugely successful and extended to ship interiors and commissions in South and East Africa with offices in Cape Town, Durban and East London. By about 1912 Dunn had decided to return to his 2,000 acre farm in Kenya. Watson discussed with William Curtis Green the possible merger of the practices on Dunn’s retirement, then scheduled for 1915, but in the event the war intervened and Watson became terminally ill. Dunn continued the practice with one assistant and Curtis Green was eventually taken into partnership in 1917.

Robert Watson died in February 1916. Dunn described him as having ‘an unstudied natural charm of manner that made friends at once wherever he went…his gentleness ‘disarmed opposition…he had in his younger days a love of music: he had a pleasing voice, delighting in singing songs of the North, playing his own accompaniments’.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 31, Scotland Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1877c. 1881 
Item 2 of 335, Lincoln's Inn Fields, London WC, EnglandBusinessBefore 1895After 1904 
Item 3 of 35, Ebury Street, Victoria, London SW, EnglandPrivate1904 *  

* 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 6Robert Paterson & SonOctober 18811884Apprentice 
Item 2 of 6Hippolyte Jean Blanc1884February 1887Assistant 
Item 3 of 6Wardrop & AndersonFebruary 1887Before 1890Assistant 
Item 4 of 6James Marjoribanks MacLarenAfter 1887Before 1890Assistant 
Item 5 of 6Dunn & Watson18901912Partner 
Item 6 of 6Dunn, Watson & Curtis Green19121916Partner 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6(Sir) Robert Rowand Anderson11 June 1888for Associateship
Item 2 of 6Francis William Bedford5 December 1904for Fellowship
Item 3 of 6John McKean Brydon11 June 1888for Associateship
Item 4 of 6Alfred William Stephens Cross5 December 1904for Fellowship
Item 5 of 6Charles Edward Mallows5 December 1904for Fellowship
Item 6 of 6John James Stevenson11 June 1888for Associateship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1James Straton Ferrier29 November 1909for 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 54After 1887Stirling High SchoolStirling StirlingshireScotlandAs assistant to James MacLaren, completed the work on new wing
Item 2 of 541889Presbyterian Church of St JamesDulwich LondonEnglandExecuted job
Item 3 of 54After 1890Ashfold  SurreyEnglandRestoration/additions
Item 4 of 54After 1890Barnwell Castle  NorthamptonshireEnglandRestoration/additions
Item 5 of 54After 1890Cokethorpe  OxfordshireEnglandRestoration/additions
Item 6 of 54After 1890Cork FactoryLeith EdinburghScotland 
Item 7 of 54After 1890Flore House  NorthamptonshireEnglandRestorations and/or additions
Item 8 of 54After 1890Pitsford Hall  NorthamptonshireEnglandConversion to school
Item 9 of 54After 1890Shottesbrooke  BerkshireEnglandRepairs and alterations
Item 10 of 54After 1890Waddington Old Hall  LancashireEnglandRepairs and alterations
Item 11 of 541891Glenlyon HouseFortingall PerthshireScotlandReconstruction
Item 12 of 541891Offices for Sir Donald Currie  LondonEngland 
Item 13 of 541891Offices, Lombard Street  LondonEnglandNew board room (and other work?)
Item 14 of 541891Shipping offices for Sir Donald Currie  LondonEnglandDesign exhibited under joint names of MacLaren, Dunn & Watson
Item 15 of 541892Battersea InstituteBattersea LondonEnglandCompetition design
Item 16 of 541892Fortingall HotelFortingall PerthshireScotlandFrom sketch scheme by MacLaren?
Item 17 of 54After 1892Garth HouseGlenlyon PerthshireScotlandCompleted the MacLaren work
Item 18 of 541895Edinburgh Life Assurance Company Building  EdinburghScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 19 of 541895Scalpay House SkyeInverness-shireScotlandRestoration/additions to house and new thatched cottages on Scalpay and Pabay
Item 20 of 541896Water tower  AradRomania 
Item 21 of 54c. 1896Mount Nelson Hotel  Cape TownSouth Africa 
Item 22 of 541898Keltney Burn BridgeFortingall/Aberfeldy PerthshireScotland 
Item 23 of 54Before 1899St John's InstituteWalworth LondonEngland 
Item 24 of 541900Fortingall Parish ChurchFortingall PerthshireScotlandRebuilding, incorporating belfry of previous church
Item 25 of 54c. 1900ArdtrasgartFortingall PerthshireScotland 
Item 26 of 541905Scottish Provident Institution  LondonEngland 
Item 27 of 541908Dunkeld CathedralDunkeld PerthshireScotlandRefurnishing
Item 28 of 541909Aberfeldy Cottage HospitalAberfeldy PerthshireScotland 
Item 29 of 541909Lilford Hall  NorthamptonshireEnglandRepairs and alterations: heightening and extensions of the north wings
Item 30 of 541910Edinburgh Life Assurance Office  LondonEngland 
Item 31 of 541912Glenlyon HouseFortingall PerthshireScotlandLaundry and garages (plans for additions to stables dated 1912)
Item 32 of 54Before 1912Abechurch  London?EnglandAltars, pulpits, screens, organs etc
Item 33 of 54Before 1912Blocks of flatsChelsea LondonEngland 
Item 34 of 54Before 1912Farm buildings     
Item 35 of 54Before 1912GoldhillFarnham SurreyEngland 
Item 36 of 54Before 1912Hazelbech  NorthamptonshireEngland 
Item 37 of 54Before 1912HouseOverstrand NorfolkEngland 
Item 38 of 54Before 1912House at HaileyburyHaileybury Hertfordshire?England 
Item 39 of 54Before 1912KildowieMaidenhead BerkshireEngland 
Item 40 of 54Before 1912Marconi Company's factory and officesChelmsford EssexEngland 
Item 41 of 54Before 1912Office block  East LondonSouth Africa 
Item 42 of 54Before 1912Office block  Cape TownSouth Africa 
Item 43 of 54Before 1912OldhouseFulmer BuckinghamshireEngland 
Item 44 of 54Before 1912Scottish Widows Office  BristolEngland 
Item 45 of 54Before 1912Scottish Widows Office  LondonEngland 
Item 46 of 54Before 1912Ship interiors (saloons) for Union Castle Line ships     
Item 47 of 54Before 1912Shottesbrooke ChurchShottesbrooke BerkshireEngland 
Item 48 of 54Before 1912Union of London and Smiths BanksHull YorkshireEngland 
Item 49 of 54Before 1912Union of London and Smiths BanksBarnsley YorkshireEngland 
Item 50 of 541913British Bank of South America  LondonEngland 
Item 51 of 541913Fortingall Parish ChurchFortingall PerthshireScotlandReseating and reredos
Item 52 of 541913Scottish Provident Institution  LondonEngland 
Item 53 of 541914The New CottagesFortingall PerthshireScotland 
Item 54 of 54Before 1916Office block  DurbanSouth Africa 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 6Borland, Maureen D S MacColl: Painter, Poet, Art Critic Harpenden: Lennard Publishing 
Item 2 of 6Calder, Alan2003James MacLaren: Arts and Crafts Pioneer Donington: Shaun Tyas 
Item 3 of 6Calder, Alan2008Dunn & Watson : the Scottish Commissions6James M MacLaren Society Journal 
Item 4 of 6Glendinning, M, MacInnes, R and MacKechnie, A1996A History of Scottish Architecture   
Item 5 of 6Gray, A Stuart1985Edwardian Architecture: A Biographical Dictionary   
Item 6 of 6Who's Who in Architecture1914    

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Journal19 February 1916v23London: Royal Institute of British Architectspp142-3 - obituary by William Dunn

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 3British Architectural Library, RIBARIBA Biographical Files  
Item 2 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Drawings Collection  
Item 3 of 3RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A v10 p32 (microfiche 40/B6); F v15 p67 (microfilm reel 11)