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Theatre Architects

Theatre Architects

Here you can find out about the architect firms and individual architects associated with the theatres featured on this website.

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John D. Swanston

Born: 1868 (Dundee, Scotland)

Died: 1956 (Newton Mearns, Scotland)

John Daniel Swanston was born in Dundee in 1868 and educated at Dollar Academy. He was articled to William Simpson of Stirling c. 1884, thereafter being progressively assistant to Thomas Greenshields Leadbetter of Edinburgh (c. 1889-90), Alexander Cullen of Glasgow and Hamilton (probably c. 1891-92) and James Graham Fairley of Edinburgh (c. 1893-94), before commencing practice on his own account at 196 High Street, Kirkcaldy in 1895.

From at least 1896, Swanston practiced in partnership with George Lindsay Legge as Swanston & Legge, but Legge died some time between 1900 and 1903. A second partnership was formed with William Syme in 1904, the office being located in Redburn Wynd. From his earliest years in Kirkcaldy, Swanston was prominent in public life, becoming town councilor for the Second Ward and a burgess in November 1900. He was convener of the Street Committee from November 1904 to November 1908.

Like many other architects, Swanston was an enthusiastic volunteer and was commissioned in the 1st Forth Royal Garrison Artillery. After the First World War broke out, he was commissioned as a captain in the Black Watch and was for a time commandant of Lewes prisoner-of-war camp in Sussex.

Swanston was admitted FRIBA in February 1925. Syme predeceased Swanston, who thereafter practiced alone. He specialized in theatre, cinema and public house work, mostly in a bold neo-baroque or half-timbered neo-Tudor idiom.

Swanston retired in 1951 and made a last public appearance in November 1954 with a talk on the design of the King’s Theatre in Kirkcaldy and the changes made since he originally designed it in 1904. He died on 25 January 1956 at the home of his daughter Dr Muriel Swanston, who had taken him into her care.

Information in part sourced from the Dictionary of Scottish Architects Link opens in new window.

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