George Washington Browne

Last updated

Sir

George Washington Browne

FRIBA PPRSA
Sir-george-washington-browne-1853-1939-architect.jpg
Geroge Washington Browne in 1932
Born21 September 1853
Glasgow, Scotland
Died15 June 1939
Sambrook, Shropshire, England
Resting placeGrange Cemetery, Edinburgh
Alma materGlasgow Academy
OccupationArchitect
BuildingsRoyal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh Central Library

Sir George Washington Browne FRIBA PPRSA (21 September 1853 – 15 June 1939) was a Scottish architect. He was born in Glasgow, and trained there and in London. He spent most of his career in Edinburgh, although his work can be found throughout Scotland and beyond. He was involved in nearly 300 projects, including many public and commercial buildings. One of his most notable buildings is Edinburgh's Central Library, and he became recognised as an authority on library planning and design. He came to national attention after winning a competition to design a bridge over the River Thames in London, although this was never realised. He was the first architect to be elected as President of the Royal Scottish Academy. He also served as President of the Edinburgh Architectural Association, and was instrumental in setting up the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland.

Contents

Early life and education

George Washington Browne was born in Glasgow on 21 September 1853, the eldest child of Samuel Brown, a cabinet maker, and his wife Sarah Agnew. [1] He attended the Glasgow Academy. At the age of 16, he became articled to the Glasgow architects, Salmon Son & Ritchie, where he worked alongside two friends, James MacLaren and William Flockhart, both of whom went on to have successful careers in architecture. In 1872, the three friends unsuccessfully entered a competition in Building News to design a detached suburban villa. [2] [3]

Early architectural career

The former Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, which closed in 2021 Sick Kids Hospital, Edinburgh.JPG
The former Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Edinburgh, which closed in 2021

On completion of his articles in 1873, Browne joined the firm of Campbell Douglas & Sellars. While there, he won the John James Stevenson prize for measured drawing. This led to a move to London, where he obtained a place in Stevenson's firm (then Stevenson & Robson). [2]

After two years with Stevenson, Browne moved to the office of the church architect, Arthur Blomfield. [2] In 1878, while still with Blomfield, he won the prestigious Pugin Studentship of the Royal Institute of British Architects, the first Scotsman to do so. [4] The prize enabled him to study and travel in France and Belgium. As part of his preparation for the prize, he published a large collection of drawings of domestic and ecclesiastical buildings in Scotland and England. [5]

In 1879, after a brief period working for William Eden Nesfield, he returned to Scotland, where he became principal assistant to Robert Rowand Anderson, who was at the time working on designs for the University of Edinburgh Medical School and Glasgow Central Station. In 1881, Browne became Anderson's partner. Two years later, the firm merged with Hew M Wardrop to become Wardrop, Anderson & Browne. [2]

Independent practice

Central (Carnegie) Library on George IV Bridge Edinburgh Edinburgh Central Library.jpg
Central (Carnegie) Library on George IV Bridge Edinburgh

In 1885, Browne established an independent practice in Edinburgh, with an office at 5 Queen Street. [2] [6] Two years later, he won the competition to design Edinburgh's Central Library from a field of 30 entrants, this being the first public library in Edinburgh. It led to commissions to design many more public libraries in Scotland and beyond. [5] He went on to become a recognised authority on library design, and later published a paper on the subject and acted as adviser and assessor to library committees. [4]

His other notable works during this period include premises for Redfern Ltd, a "ladies tailors" in Princes Street; [7] the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Sciennes; several operating theatres for the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh; the extension of the Advocates Library; and an office for the British Linen Bank in George Street. [5] These successes enabled him to move to a larger office at 8 Albyn Place. [2]

In 1895 or 1896, he went into partnership with John More Dick Peddie. The partnership was initially successful, thanks mainly to commissions for banks, particularly for the British Linen Bank. But by 1907 this work had sharply declined and the partnership was formally dissolved, although Peddie and Browne continued to share the Albyn Place office. [2] [8]

For the remainder of his career, Browne had few commissions, and concentrated instead on competitions. In 1907, he was a finalist in the competition to design County Hall, the headquarters of the London County Council, described as "one of the most notable competitions of a generation". [9] In 1910, he submitted a design for the Usher Hall, but this was not successful. He won the competition for the King Edward VII Memorial at Holyrood Palace, which was erected, in a reduced form, between 1912 and 1922. [10] In 1914 he achieved UK-wide by prominence by winning the competition for a bridge across the River Thames in London opposite St Paul's Cathedral, and was appointed the project's principal architect. However, the project was delayed by the First World War and later abandoned. [5]

From 1913, his work was considerably reduced. Obliged to give up his house in The Grange and his office, he moved his home and place of work to a ground-floor flat at 1 Randolph Cliff. [2] During this time, his only significant project was the YMCA building in St Andrew Street in 1915. [11]

Honours and appointments

In 1892, Browne was admitted as an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy (RSA). He became a full Academician in 1902, and the Academy's treasurer in 1917. In 1924, he was elected 10th President of the RSA, the first architect to hold that post. [5]

Browne was knighted in 1926. In the same year, he was admitted as a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), was awarded an honorary LL.D. degree by the University of Edinburgh, and played a role in organising the RSA's Centenary Exhibition. The following year he received King George V and Queen Mary on their visit to the Academy. [1] [2]

He was also involved in the Edinburgh Architectural Association, serving as its President from 1884 to 1886. He was Head of Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art from 1914 to 1922. He helped set up the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland in 1927. [1]

Personal life

The grave of George Washington Browne and his second wife and eldest son in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh The grave of George Washington Browne and his family in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh.JPG
The grave of George Washington Browne and his second wife and eldest son in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh

In 1881, Browne married Jessie Brownlie, the eldest daughter of Robert Brownlie of Glasgow. The couple had five children, only one of whom survived Browne. Their two younger sons, George Brownlie Browne and Hew Edwards Browne, were both killed in action in 1916 (aged 24 and 19 respectively). Their eldest son, Leslie Aitchison Browne, died in 1922 (aged 32) as a result wounds suffered at Ypres in 1916. Their eldest daughter, Christina, who had married James Strachan McLeod, died of heart disease in 1920 (aged 37). Jessie Browne died at the age of 43 in 1900 as the result of appendicitis. [1] [4]

In the mid-1890s, Browne designed his own family home, The Limes, at 17 Blackford Road (now number 33) in The Grange. He occupied the house from approximately 1896 to 1914. [1] [3]

In 1905, Browne married his second wife, Louisa Emma Adams, youngest daughter of Rev. D.D.L. Adams. She died of cancer in 1931, at the age of 59. [1] [4]

In 1938, failing health and diminishing finances obliged Browne to leave his flat in Randolph Cliff and move to the home of his surviving daughter, Jessie Agnew Preston, the wife of Norman Preston, in Sambrook, Shropshire. He died there on 15 June 1939, at the age of 85. The RSA took charge of his funeral, the service being conducted in the Academy's library. [2]

George Washington Browne is buried in Grange Cemetery along with his second wife and eldest son. A monument on his grave also commemorates his first wife and his two younger sons. [1]

List of principal works

The Dictionary of Scottish Architects lists 297 projects on which Browne was engaged between 1878 and 1934, either as sole architect or in collaboration with others (including several unsuccessful competition entries). All but five of these are in Scotland. [2] The following are some notable examples from that list:

Publications

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Basil Spence</span> Scottish architect

Sir Basil Urwin Spence, was a Scottish architect, most notably associated with Coventry Cathedral in England and the Beehive in New Zealand, but also responsible for numerous other buildings in the Modernist/Brutalist style.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Rowand Anderson</span> Scottish architect

Sir Robert Rowand Anderson, was a Scottish Victorian architect. Anderson trained in the office of George Gilbert Scott in London before setting up his own practice in Edinburgh in 1860. During the 1860s his main work was small churches in the 'First Pointed' style that is characteristic of Scott's former assistants. By 1880 his practice was designing some of the most prestigious public and private buildings in Scotland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Royal Scottish Academy</span> Art institution in Edinburgh, Scotland

The Royal Scottish Academy (RSA) is the country’s national academy of art. It promotes contemporary Scottish art.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">David Bryce</span> Scottish architect (1803 - 1876)

David BryceFRSE FRIBA RSA was a Scottish architect.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Robert Lorimer</span> Scottish architect

Sir Robert Stodart Lorimer, KBE was a prolific Scottish architect and furniture designer noted for his sensitive restorations of historic houses and castles, for new work in Scots Baronial and Gothic Revival styles, and for promotion of the Arts and Crafts movement.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">The Grange, Edinburgh</span> Human settlement in Scotland

The Grange is an affluent suburb of Edinburgh, just south of the city centre, with Morningside and Greenhill to the west, Newington to the east, The Meadows park and Marchmont to the north, and Blackford Hill to the south. It is a conservation area characterised by large early Victorian stone-built villas and mansions, often with very large gardens. The Grange was built mainly between 1830 and 1890, and the area represented the idealisation of country living within an urban setting.

John James StevensonFRSE FSA FRIBA, usually referred to as J. J. Stevenson, was a British architect of the late-Victorian era. Born in Glasgow, he worked in Glasgow, Edinburgh and London. He is particularly associated with the British Queen Anne revival style.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">John James Burnet</span> Scottish architect

Sir John James Burnet was a Scottish Edwardian architect who was noted for a number of prominent buildings in Glasgow and London. He was the son of the architect John Burnet, and later went into partnership with his father, joining an architectural firm which would become an influential force in British Modern architecture in the 20th century.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Comely Bank</span>

Comely Bank is an area of Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. It lies southwest of Royal Botanic Garden and is situated between Stockbridge and Craigleith. It is bound on its northernmost point by Carrington Road and on its southernmost point by Learmonth Terrace. The area is covered by Stockbridge and Inverleith Community Council.

James Miller (1860–1947) was a Scottish architect, recognised for his commercial architecture in Glasgow and for his Scottish railway stations. Notable among these are the American-influenced Union Bank building at 110–20 St Vincent Street; his 1901–1905 extensions to Glasgow Central railway station; and Wemyss Bay railway station on the Firth of Clyde. His lengthy career resulted in a wide range of building types, and, with the assistance of skilled draughtsmen such as Richard M Gunn, he adapted his designs to changing tastes and new architectural materials and technologies.

William Birnie Rhind RSA (1853–1933) was a Scottish sculptor.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hippolyte Blanc</span> Scottish architect

Hippolyte Jean Blanc was a Scottish architect. Best known for his church buildings in the Gothic revival style, Blanc was also a keen antiquarian who oversaw meticulously researched restoration projects.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">William Leiper</span> Scottish architect (1839–1916)

William Leiper FRIBA RSA (1839–1916) was a Scottish architect known particularly for his domestic architecture in and around the town of Helensburgh. In addition, he produced a small amount of fine ecclesiastical and commercial architecture in Glasgow and the Scottish Lowlands. He was also an accomplished watercolour artist, and from the late 1870s spent much spare time painting in oils and watercolours.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Henry Snell Gamley</span> Scottish sculptor (1865-1928)

Henry Snell Gamley (1865–1928) was a Scottish sculptor specialising in war memorials and sculpture on tombs. He was however also responsible for other figurative sculpture on prominent Edinburgh buildings such as the Usher Hall and works at Holyrood Palace.

John Douglas of Pinkerton was a Scottish architect who designed and reformed several country houses in the Scottish Lowlands. His work deserves to be noted for what the 2002 history of Scottish architecture remarks as an approach "of relentless surgery or concealment.". His most notable works are Killin and Ardeonaig Church, Stirlingshire (1744); Archerfield House, East Lothian (1745); Finlaystone House, Renfewshire (1746–47), Wardhouse (Gordonhall), Insch, Aberdeenshire (1757); and Campbeltown Town Hall, Argyll and Bute (1758–60). Several of these are listed buildings.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Campbell Douglas</span> British architect (1828–1910)

Archibald Campbell Douglas was a Scottish architect based primarily in Glasgow. He designed many churches in Glasgow and Edinburgh, especially those for the Free Church of Scotland.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">James MacGregor (moderator)</span>

James MacGregor FRSE (1832–1910) was a Scottish minister and philanthropist. He was Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1891. In 1886 he was made Chaplain in Ordinary to Queen Victoria, in 1901 Chaplain to King Edward VII, and in 1910 to King George V, serving three monarchs in all.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Archibald Scott (moderator)</span>

Archibald Scott (1837–1909) was a Scottish minister who served as Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland in 1896.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Alexander Laing (architect)</span> Scottish architect

Alexander Laing was a Scottish architect who was mainly involved in house and castle design.

Hugh Cameron RSA RSW (1835–1918) was a Scottish artist. He specialised in figurative scenes. He exhibited in both the Royal Academy and Royal Scottish Academy from 1871.

References

  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "U: George Washington Browne (1853 – 1939)". Grange Association. 24 May 2021. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 "George Washington Browne". Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Retrieved 20 September 2022.
  3. 1 2 "George Browne". The James M MacLaren Society. Retrieved 22 September 2022.
  4. 1 2 3 4 "Sir George Browne, Library Planning and Construction". The Times. London. 16 June 1939. p. 16.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 "Election of New President". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 8 January 1924. p. 4.
  6. Post Office Directory Edinburgh and Leith 1886-7. p. 33.
  7. "32 Princes Street, Edinburgh, in use as Redfern Ltd, Ladies Tailors, entrance and main shop window. Since demolished". Canmore. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  8. Post Office Directory Edinburgh and Leith 1896-7. p. 372.
  9. "Sir George Washington Browne Death of Former President of Royal Scottish Academy". The Scotsman. Edinburgh. 16 June 1939. p. 10.
  10. "Edinburgh, Holyrood Palace, Memorial To King Edward VII". Canmore. Retrieved 23 September 2022.
  11. "Edinburgh, 14 South St Andrew Street". Canmore. Retrieved 23 September 2022.

Further reading