Continuing our series on the architects who shaped Edinburgh in the lead up to World Heritage Day on Friday 16 April…
One of the most prolific Scottish architects working at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries, John More Dick Peddie was the son of the architect John Dick Peddie. Born in Edinburgh on 20th August 1853, his baptismal record names him simply as John More Peddie. The Peddie family as a whole seems to have added the second surname Dick about 1870.
After an education at Edinburgh Academy, the Elberfeld Realschule (Germany) and Edinburgh University, and a period as assistant to Sir George Gilbert Scott in London, he joined the family firm (Peddie & Kinnear) in 1879 as partner to his father and to Charles George Hood Kinnear. From 1886 to 1906 he worked with George Washington Browne, architect of Edinburgh’s Central Public Library, and was joined in the final year of his life by William James Walker Todd.
Peddie’s output was prodigious and there are examples of his work in many parts of Scotland. His work can be classified into three distinct groups – public or commercial buildings such as offices and banks; churches; and private houses. All three groups are well represented in Edinburgh
The Caledonian Station Hotel ( now Caledonian Hilton) is undoubtedly the most striking of his Edinburgh buildings. Its prominent location and fine sight-lines show Peddie’s work off to great advantage. The office, bank and insurance buildings in George Street and St Andrew Square which Peddie designed are less flamboyant, evoking the solidity and reliability that financial institutions wish to present to the world.
Only three Edinburgh churches (all Episcopal) were designed by Peddie – Holy Cross at Davidson’s Mains, St Ninian’s Comely Bank (Peddie’s church is now the church hall), and the long defunct St Kentigern’s in St Peter’s Place, but he was responsible for significant alterations and interior design features at St John’s Princes Street, St Paul’s & St George’s York Place, and Palmerston Place Church.
Peddie pursued many interests outside of architecture – adviser to local authorities on housing developments, director of the Edinburgh Tramways Company, Scottish Equitable and the Scottish Investment Trust. He fished, shot and played golf and was active in politics. On 10th March 1921, Peddie died at his Edinburgh home, and his funeral service was held in St John’s Princes Street, the church which had been greatly enhanced by his design skills.
His firm continues as Dick Peddie & Mackay. Its vast archive of plans is with the RCAHMS, Bernard Terrace, Edinburgh.
Want to find out more? Contact the Edinburgh Room or Fine Art Library, use your library card to log on to the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography or log on to the phenomenally impressive Dictionary of Scottish Architects.
Looking for more images of Edinburgh past and present? Visit Capital Collections for a wonderful selection of photographs, drawings, watercolours and engravings.