Basic Biographical Details

Name: George Patrick Houston Watson
Designation: Architect
Born: 23 July 1887
Died: 27 December 1959
Bio Notes: George Patrick Houston ('Pat') Watson was born on 23 July 1887, the son of John Watson, and educated at George Watson's College Edinburgh. He was articled to Peddie & Washington Browne in 1904 and remained with George Washington Browne as assistant until 1911 when he was recruited by Alfred Lightly MacGibbon as assistant architect to the Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland at a salary of 150. During his period with Peddie & Washington Browne he had studied at Edinburgh College of Art, and he made several month-long sketching tours - to Oxford in 1909, to Burford in 1910, and to France in 1911.

Diabetes obliged MacGibbon to resign from the Royal Commission in October 1914. Watson was appointed his successor early in 1915 but was called up for military service later in the same year. He was wounded in France, resulting in a permanent lameness in one leg. There was no job for him on his return and he commenced independent practice at 27 Rutland Street in 1919. He eventually was reinstated as architect to the Commission in 1920, and ceased independent practice in 1924 when his appointment there was established within the Civil Service. Primarily a medievalist, he wrote the architectural descriptions in the Commission's inventories, and his work on the Border abbeys was exemplary for its time. He was an active member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland, being its honorary secretary from 1919 to 1929. In these years he also undertook further study tours, visiting France in 1922, 1924 and 1926, the English abbeys in 1923, and Belgium in 1929.

Watson exhibited at the RSA from 1919 but as a watercolourist rather than as an architect. He was elected RSW in 1938. His wife Elizabeth Isobel Amour, born 1885, was also an artist and founded the Bough Pottery. About 1933 Watson moved house from 5 Morningside Park to Beesknowe, Balerno but late in 1938 or early 1939 the Watsons moved back to town settling in an upper flat at 23b George Square where they subsequently suffered a serious fire: the damage was repaired and they were able to return.

Watson was admitted LRIBA in early 1931, his proposelevated to FRIBA in January 1933, again proposed by Jerdan but this time accompanied by George Mackie Watson and James Alexander Arnott. This move was probably to strengthen his chances of succeeding W Mackay Mackenzie as Secretary of the Royal Commission as he had no university degree. In the event Angus Graham returned from a forestry career in Canada in 1934 and secured the Secretaryship despite having only a rather slim archaeological background limited to his native Kintyre. This totally unexpected development left Watson deeply disappointed and frustrated, though not embittered. On his retirement from the staff of the Commission in 1952 he was appointed a commissioner, a belated attempt to make amends.

Watson died in an Edinburgh nursing home on 27 December 1959. Despite the initially unpromising circumstance in which they became colleagues, Angus Graham remembered him with considerable affection, describing him as his 'great helper'; Ronald Cant found him as 'a very buttoned-up sort of chap' but the younger Commission staff found the Watsons kind and hospitable.

'The development of the Scottish Country House', in 'Transactions of the Dumfries & Galloway Antiquarians' Society'
'The development of Caerlaverock Castle', in 'Proceedings of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland'
'The Building of the Parliament House' (in collaboration with Professor Hannay), in 'Tranactions of the Old Edinburgh Club'

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 727, Rutland Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1919  
Item 2 of 7122, George Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1930 *  
Item 3 of 75, Morningside Park, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1930c. 1933 
Item 4 of 7RCAHMS/27, York Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1932 *  
Item 5 of 7Beesknowe, Balerno, Midlothian, ScotlandPrivate1933Late 1938 or early 1939 
Item 6 of 723b, George Square, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivateLate 1938 or early 1939  
Item 7 of 727, York Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1939c. 1940 

* 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 4Peddie & Washington Browne1904c. 1909Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4George Washington Brownec. 19091911Assistant 
Item 3 of 4Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)1911October 1914Assistant 
Item 4 of 4Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland (RCAHMS)October 19141959Architect 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6James Alexander ArnottJanuary 1933for Fellowship
Item 2 of 6William DavidsonEarly 1931for Licentiateship
Item 3 of 6John JerdanEarly 1931for Licentiateship
Item 4 of 6John JerdanJanuary 1933for Fellowship
Item 5 of 6Thomas Forbes MaclennanEarly 1931for Licentiateship
Item 6 of 6George Mackie WatsonJanuary 1933for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Stewart Hunter Cruden12 December 1939for Associateship
Item 2 of 3Philistas Rognvald Howard Stoughton Holbourn21 October 1941for Associateship
Item 3 of 3Horace Gildard White6 April 1936for Licentiateship

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 4After 191926 Castle Street  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction to form two picture galleries
Item 2 of 4After 191975 Great King Street  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction to form two dwelling houses
Item 3 of 4After 1919Factory for Messrs Wilkie & Paul  EdinburghScotland 
Item 4 of 4After 1919Two machine shops for Messrs William Lindsay & Sons  EdinburghScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Post Office Directories     
Item 2 of 2RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Edinburgh Evening Dispatch28 December 1959  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 per J G Dunbar
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L no3660 (box 14); F no3081 (box 16)