Elder, Robert Walter

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Elder, Robert Walter

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Robert Walter Elder was born at Cathcart in 1899 (Reg Dist 560, entry no 159), the son of David Elder, assistant city assessor, and his wife Elizabeth Sorley Buchan. He was educated at Uddingston Grammar School and took a two-year evening class course in building construction at Glasgow High School to qualify for entrance to the Glasgow School of Architecture. He undertook the diploma course from 1921 to 1926 while articled to Southorn & Orr, and won the bronze medal with a design for a shelter in a public park in 1923. A minor travelling scholarship enabled him to spend a fortnight in London. He was admitted ARIBA on 20 June 1927, his proposers being T Harold Hughes, James Lochhead and William Brown Whitie. Immediately thereafter, Elder became the junior partner of the cinema specialist Charles James McNair, whose main client was the ABC group. Elder was the principal designer, working with five assistants and an apprentice in a back room on accomplished Art Deco schemes which ensured the practice's continuing success. Elder was personally a timid chain-smoker who preferred to let McNair deal with the clients. He was remembered by an assistant, Robert Forsyth, as 'a very shy man who didn't want to take the credit'. He never married and in later years suffered from Parkinson's disease. He died of pneumonia at Belvidere Hospital on 15 February 1963.


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