George Washington Browne

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Sick Kids Hospital, Edinburgh
Caledonian Hotel, Edinburgh (1898–1903)
Central (Carnegie) Library on George IV Bridge Edinburgh
The grave of George Washington Browne and his family in the Grange Cemetery, Edinburgh

Sir George Washington Browne FRIBA (21 September 1853 – 15 June 1939) was a British architect. He was born in Glasgow, and trained there and in London. He practiced mainly in Edinburgh, where he designed a number of large public and commercial buildings (the British Linen Bank being a frequent client), although his work is found throughout Scotland and Britain.

Career[edit]

He began his career as an architect in around 1869, when he was 16, with the office of Salmon Son & Ritchie. Following completion of his articles in 1873, Browne moved to London in 1875, and joined the Architectural Association. He worked at the practice of Stevenson & Robson for two years, and then moved to the office of Arthur Blomfield. In 1877 he won the Pugin Studentship, funding travel and study in France and Belgium. After a time working for William Eden Nesfield, he returned to Scotland in 1879 to work for Robert Rowand Anderson, becoming Anderson's partner in 1881.

In 1885, Browne established his own independent practice, and two years later won the competition for Edinburgh Central Library, on George IV Bridge. At this point he took on Stewart Henbest Capper as his assistant, who stayed with him until 1891. His Braid Chiuch in Nile Grove, Edinburgh was built in 1886. After being commissioned to design the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in 1892, he entered into partnership with John More Dick Peddie in the mid-1890s. The partnership designed a number of bank branches, particularly for the British Linen Bank, as well as the Caledonian Hotel (1898-1903), and the main building of Edinburgh College of Art (1906). Following this period of success, the partnership was dissolved in 1907, and Browne had a lean period, during which he only carried out one significant building, the YMCA in St Andrew Street, Edinburgh (1914). He did win competitions for the Edward VII Memorial Gates at Holyrood Palace, and for St Paul's Bridge in London, although the former was not built until 1922, and the latter was not built at all.

Browne was president of the Edinburgh Architectural Association from 1883 until 1886. He was admitted to the Royal Scottish Academy in 1892, becoming the Academy's treasurer in 1917, and president from 1924 until 1933. In 1914 he was appointed Head of Architecture at Edinburgh College of Art, holding the post until 1922. In 1926 he was knighted, and was admitted as a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects. He was one of the founding members of the Royal Fine Art Commission for Scotland in 1927, a position which enabled him to influence the designs for St. Andrew's House and Edinburgh Sheriff Court in the 1930s.

He fell ill in 1938 and moved to Shropshire to be with his daughter, dying there the following year at the age of 85. His body was returned to Edinburgh for burial in the Grange Cemetery with his two wives and three sons, all of whom he outlived.

Family[edit]

George's first wife, Jessie Brownlie, died on 26 February 1900 aged 43. They had three sons but sadly all three died as a result of the First World War. She is buried in the family plot in the Grange Cemetery.

George Brownlie Washington Browne (1892- 7 February 1916) was a 2nd Lieutenant in the Black Watch and died at Loos. He is buried at Vermelles British Cemetery.

Huw (or Hugh) Edward Browne, was killed on the first day of the Battle of the Somme, 1 July 1916, aged 21. He served with the 15th Battalion Royal Scots, the first Edinburgh pals battalion (ser.no.17572). He died in the attack on Contalmaison. His body was never found and his name is listed on the Thiepval Monument as one of the tens of thousand who had no grave.

Leslie Aitchison Browne was a private and was severely wounded during the war. He died aged 32 of illness contracted during the war and is buried with his parents in the Grange Cemetery.

George remarried to Louisa Emma Adams (9 April 1872 – 14 October 1931) who is buried together with the rest of the family.

List of Principal Works[edit]

Browne was truly a prodigious architect in terms of commissions and his list of works is very impressive:-

References[edit]