Robert Lorimer – Lest We Forget

Alex McCue

28th October 2009


President, Murray Dickson welcomed 80 members of the Old Gala Club to the meeting held on 28th October, 2009 in the Upper Volunteer Hall. Murray showed some recent donations to the Club Collection then introduced club member Alex McCue, who gave an illustrated talk on “Robert Lorimer – Lest We forget”.


Alex told us of his interest and research into the life of Sir Robert Lorimer and thanked members of the Lorimer family for their assistance in the project.


Sir Robert Lorimer was born in Edinburgh in 1864 and trained as an architect in his home town before moving to London for further study. On his return to Edinburgh in 1892 he formed his own practice and later the family home was to be Kellie Castle in Fife where he redesigned the garden there.

By the early 1900s Lorimer’s work was well known having altered and designed mansions and country houses including Arkinglass in Argyll, Rowallan in Ayrshire and Earlshall at Leuchars. He also worked in the Borders and was responsible for plans at Marchmont House, Hutton Castle, Gattonside House, Dawyck House and the Glen near Traquair. His work can also be seen in many churches.

The Chapel of the Thistle in St. Giles’ Cathedral is an outstanding example of Lorimer’s designs in stone, wood and glass.


In Galashiels Lorimer can be credited with the Fountain, War Memorial, Library and the gates at Glenmayne.

After the Great War Lorimer concentrated on War Cemeteries and Memorials, taking his work to four countries in Europe and Egypt. In the UK he drew up plans for Memorials from Plymouth to Oban and Alex showed a selection of slides including the Memorials at Caddonfoot, Selkirk, Melrose and Kelso.

In July 1927 The Scottish National War Memorial in Edinburgh Castle was opened, Sir Robert being the architect of this impressive building. It is worth noting that he also supervised the work of the craftsmen involved in this project.


Sir Robert Lorimer died in 1929 leaving a legacy of buildings, plaques and church furnishings. His work at home and abroad is a fitting tribute to those who gave their lives in many conflicts.

Alex’s illustrated talk gave us a keen insight into the work of this remarkably talented man.


The next meeting of the Old Gala Club will be on Wednesday 11th November at 7.30 when Murray Dickson will give a talk on the Club’s Collection of artefacts.