Navigation – Plan du site
Dossier : Building the Scottish Diaspora

Scottish architects, imperial identities and India’s built environment in the early twentieth century: the careers of John Begg and George Wittet

Architectes écossais, identités impériales et environnement bâti en Inde au début du xxe siècle : les carrières de John Begg et de George Wittet
Sarah Longair

Résumés

Au début du xx e siècle, deux architectes écossais, John Begg et George Wittet, ont conçu les monuments les plus insignes de Mumbai, outre d’autres édifices notables dans diverses parties de l’Inde. Ils ont également, par leur engagement au sein de l’école d’art Sir Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy, participé à la formation des architectes dans le pays. Quoique très peu étudiés, Begg et Wittet sont des acteurs écossais non négligeables de l’histoire de l’Empire britannique, en ayant largement contribué non seulement à l’environnement du bâti colonial mais aussi au futur de la profession d’architecte en Inde. Les architectes écossais et leur rôle dans l’élaboration de la forme des « villes impériales » à travers le monde sont des sujets d’étude absents de la riche histoire de l’Écosse et de l’Empire. Cet article utilise les parcours professionnels de John Begg et de George Wittet comme exemples. Une analyse attentive des nombreux écrits de John Begg révèle que l’architecte a cherché à défendre, dans le milieu professionnel, la minorité notable d’architectes formés en Grande-Bretagne actifs en Inde et à faire connaître leur travail en métropole. À cet égard, leur identité professionnelle était celle d’architecte impérial britannique, alors qu’en même temps ils maintenaient des liens sociaux et religieux avec la communauté écossaise. Comme tant d’autres Écossais avant eux, ils ont, durant leur séjour aux Indes, forgé des identités modulables, écossaise, britannique et impériale à la fois.

Haut de page

Entrées d’index

Index de mots-clés :

Empire britannique, identité

Index by keyword :

British Empire, identity

Indice de palabras clave :

Imperio británico, indentidad

Schlagwortindex :

Britisches Reich, Identität

Parole chiave :

Impero britannico, indentità

Index géographique :

Asie, Asie du Sud, Inde, Europe, Europe du Nord, Écosse

Index chronologique :

XXe siècle
Haut de page

Texte intégral

  • 1 “St Andrew’s Day: Celebration in Bombay,” The Bombay Gazette, Monday 2 December 1901, p. 6. Quote (...)

“Scotsmen high and low have had a large share in the building and upholding of the Empire.”1

  • 2 John Begg, “The Work of George Wittet: An Appreciation,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British (...)
  • 3 For clarity, Mumbai will be referred to as Bombay when discussing the colonial period.

1On a station platform in York in 1904, John Begg (1866-1937), Consulting Architect to the Government of Bombay, interviewed fellow Scot George Wittet (1878-1926) for the post of his assistant. Begg’s wife warned him against this appointment, stating “whatever you do, don’t have that fellow: he will boss you.”2 Begg reportedly respected his wife’s advice, but chose to follow his instinct and appointed Wittet who took up the post in India later in 1904. Following Wittet’s and Begg’s promotions to posts as Consulting Architects to Bombay and the Government in India respectively, these two architects created some of the most famous of Mumbai/Bombay’s landmarks and several important buildings elsewhere in India.3 Begg was responsible for numerous designs in his twenty-year career in India, including the much-admired General Post Office in Bombay (fig. 1). Wittet’s major works included the Prince of Wales Museum (fig. 2) and the Gateway of India (fig. 3). This monumental arch, constructed following the visit of King George V and Queen Mary in 1911, formed the symbolic backdrop to the departure of the last British troops from the subcontinent in 1948 and remains an icon of Mumbai today.

Figure 1: General Post Office, Bombay (1909-13), by John Begg.

Figure 1: General Post Office, Bombay (1909-13), by John Begg.

Source: private collection.

Figure 2: Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay (1905-15), by George Wittet.

Figure 2: Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay (1905-15), by George Wittet.

Source: Bernard Gagnon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0: https://commons.wikimedia.org/​w/​index.php?curid=30550585).

Figure 3: Gateway of India, Bombay (1911-24), by George Wittet.

Figure 3: Gateway of India, Bombay (1911-24), by George Wittet.

Source: G. A. Bremner).

  • 4 Christopher W. London, “Edwardian Architects of Bombay: George Wittet and John Begg,” in Christoph (...)
  • 5 Thomas R. Metcalf, An Imperial Vision: Indian Architecture and Britain’s Raj, London : Faber and F (...)
  • 6 Architectural Work in India for the year 1914-1915, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, (...)
  • 7 John M.  MacKenzie, “Essay and Reflection: On Scotland and the Empire,”The International History R (...)
  • 8 See John M. MacKenzie, “Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? A Four-Nation Approach to the H (...)
  • 9 John M. MacKenzie and T. M Devine, “Introduction,” in John M. MacKenzie and T. M Devine (eds.), Sc (...)
  • 10 G. A. Bremner, “The expansion of England? Scotland, architectural history, and the wider British w (...)

2The intertwined careers of these two men and their vast body of architectural work has received limited scholarly attention; only Christopher London has recognised their collective significance in a 1994 survey of their work.4 Thomas Metcalf, Philip Davies and others note their most famous works, in particular the striking Indo-Saracenic examples, without acknowledging the large number of more original modern buildings they designed over two decades.5 The sheer quantity of buildings they worked on in these decades is remarkable. In one year (1914-1915), Wittet’s office dealt with 64 buildings.6 Their Scottishness is only mentioned as an aside, if at all. The contribution of Scots to imperial expansion and governance is a rich and growing vein of scholarship, moving beyond the early concentration on what John MacKenzie has described as the “Great Scots” of empire.7 MacKenzie has been central in recent years to highlighting the value of a Four Nations approach to imperial history and has explored the intersection of national and imperial identities.8 Of particular relevance here, Tom Devine and MacKenzie have noted the need to analyse more closely the variety of professions and the associated networks in which Scots were engaged.9 Scottish architects and their role in shaping imperial cities around the world have remained largely absent from these studies. They have on the whole been regarded as “British colonial” or “imperial architects,” a problematic term that assumes some coherence of intention and origin of these designers, as noted by G. A. Bremner.10

  • 11 Special issue edited by Deborah Howard on “Scottish Architects Abroad,” in Architectural Heritage, (...)
  • 12 Sophie Drinkall, “The Jamaican Plantation House: Scottish Influence,” ibid., p. 56-68; Hideo Izumi (...)
  • 13 G. A. Bremner (ed.), Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire, Oxford: Oxford University Pr (...)
  • 14 Stuart King and Julie Willis, “The Australian Colonies,” in ibid., p. 335.
  • 15 Charles McKean and David M. Walker, “The Professorial on the Professional: A History of the Scotti (...)

3Only two key publications, until this special issue, have brought attention to Scots’ contributions to the imperial built environment. Firstly, the 1991 special issue of Architectural Heritage explored the theme of Scottish architects abroad from two perspectives: those working and designing buildings overseas, and the influence of the wider world upon Scottish architects and their works in Britain.11 The majority of these articles focus upon European examples. Two, however, address Jamaica and the Far East respectively. The former examines the influence of Scottish builders imported to Jamaica to construct buildings in the late eighteenth century while the latter focuses upon a single architect in mid-nineteenth century East Asia and his relative lack of interest in indigenous architecture.12 The second more recent example is Bremner’s edited volume Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire. Its chapters make clear that Scots were centrally involved in architectural endeavours across the Empire from its earliest years.13 The authors in this collection are careful to record the national origins of British architects, and the chapters on New Zealand and Australia particularly note the significant proportion of Scottish architects designing buildings in those regions. For example, Stuart King and Julie Willis emphasise the diversity of “British” architecture in Australia, highlighting the distinctive nature of Scottish influence and expertise in comparison with those of Irish and English architects.14 In the scholarship upon British architecture in India, however, there has been no concerted effort to examine the influence of Scottish architects. Individuals such as James Fergusson and Patrick Geddes have received scholarly attention, yet no work has probed more deeply into the influence of their Scottish background or addressed the issue more widely. By the nineteenth century, architecture had been recognised as “Scotland’s national art” and, as we shall see, Scottish influence in India, was at its height by the late nineteenth century, making this study of Scottish influence in Indian architecture in the early twentieth century overdue.15

  • 16 Angela McCarthy (ed.), A global clan, op. cit. (note 7); T. M. Devine, To the ends of the earth: S (...)
  • 17 Andrew MacKillop, “Locality, Nation, and Empire: Scots and the Empire in Asia, c.1695-c.1813,” in (...)
  • 18 Richard J. Finlay, “National Identity, Union, and Empire, C. 1850 - c. 1970,” in ibid. (note 7), p (...)
  • 19 James G. Parker, “Scottish Enterprise in India, 1750 - 1914,” in R. A. Cage (ed.), The Scots abroa (...)
  • 20 See for example, Andrew Porter, “Scottish missions and education in nineteenth-century India: The (...)

4These observations about the influence of Scots in Australia and New Zealand upon the built environment reflect the wider historiography of Scots and the British Empire which has largely concentrated on the study of settler colonies.16 As Andrew Mackillop has noted, the “methodological focus upon the colonies of permanent settlement at the expense of Scottish sojourning in the East and West Indies speaks volumes about the central role of emigration history in shaping interpretations of Scotland’s place within the British Empire.”17 Mackillop himself has redressed the dominance of emigration studies and has been influential in tracing the early history and significance of Scots in Asia and the East India Company in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, before Scotland was officially permitted to partake in the Asian trade. In the late nineteenth century, however, the scholarship on Scots overseas has continued to focus upon emigration history. The ongoing role of Scottish sojourners in India was on the whole encompassed under the “British colonial” label, with little acknowledgement of the differing experiences of men and women from the four nations. This is somewhat surprising as the late nineteenth century to the interwar period is described by Richard J. Finlay as the period when “there emerged a clearer sense of a distinctive Scottish national role within the empire” which he attributes to the re-articulation of Unionism with the rise of calls for Irish home rule.18 While Scots had been highly active in the empire for centuries, the shift to which Finlay draws our attention here is the self-consciousness that Scots developed about their long history of involvement in the empire. James G. Parker also notes that by the end of the nineteenth century, “Scots firms had attained a controlling position in key sectors of the economy of British India,” a phenomenon he attributes to the earlier foothold established by Scottish commercial and business ventures in the East India Company era.19 An exception to this gap in the literature lies in the field of Scottish missionary studies which has addressed the late nineteenth and early twentieth century in India in some depth.20

  • 21 Elizabeth Buettner, “Haggis in the Raj: Private and Public Celebrations of Scottishness in Late Im (...)
  • 22 Ibid., p. 215.
  • 23 Ibid., p. 215-216.
  • 24 Tanja Bueltmann, Andrew Hinson and Graeme Morton, The Scottish diaspora, Edinburgh: Edinburgh Univ (...)
  • 25 Ibid., p. 235.

5In the cultural sphere, Elizabeth Buettner’s study of private and public celebrations of Scottish identity in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century India is a vital contribution to our understanding of the Scottish community in South Asia in the period in question.21 She notes that the British community in India in this period, of which the Scots represented “a significant proportion,” was growing in “its size, professional diversity, and confidence in both the value of its imperial projects and the ability to carry them out successfully.”22 As we shall see, the expectations of the Government upon Begg and Wittet to realise numerous simultaneous projects reflect this atmosphere of imperial assertiveness. Buettner’s study of the language used during St Andrew’s Day celebrations in Bombay, Calcutta and Madras illustrates “how Scottish culture and national consciousness during these decades were widely seen as compatible within the double context of Union and empire, and not in opposition to them,” reflecting findings elsewhere in the literature about the maintenance of multiple local and imperial identities.23 Her research, however, alerts us to the need to examine closely such apparently communal national events. The majority of attendees to these celebrations were elite Scottish males, and a number of English guests were also invited. While these events represented an opportunity for those in official and commercial employment to celebrate their shared background, these were highly exclusive, masculine occasions which reinforced professional and personal networks and certainly did not represent a cross-section of the Scottish community in these Indian cities. Scottishness and invented traditions were deployed at these events in the service of both nation and empire. Bueltmann, Hinson and Morton have also emphasised the importance of associational culture—noting there were more than 1000 in 1935 including Caledonian societies, Burns’ clubs and other regional societies.24 They argue that these networks in India were orientated towards the homeland due to the sojourning nature of employment on the subcontinent.25

  • 26 Andrew Mackillop, “Europeans, Britons, and Scots: Scottish sojourning networks and identities in A (...)
  • 27 For discussion of the itinerant lives of colonial servants, see David Lambert and Alan Lester (eds (...)
  • 28 Andrew Mackillop, “Europeans, Britons, and Scots,” op. cit. (note 26), p. 21.

6To redress these historiographical imbalances, this article examines the careers of John Begg and George Wittet, two influential Scottish architects who worked both together and independently in India in the early twentieth century. In contrast to Scots moving to settler colonies such as Australia and New Zealand, who might export architectural styles from Scotland as part of establishing “home” in the colony, those employed in the service of the Indian Government were unlikely to establish permanent homes overseas or, as we shall see, choose to reproduce Scottish styles in the Indian empire. Like their eighteenth century mercantile predecessors, these sojourners sought opportunity and advancement in India before settling back home.26 Begg’s career, during which he spent four years in South Africa followed by twenty in India, before returning to Scotland, is typical of this approach to colonial service in the dependent territories.27 The model of Scottish identity set out by Mackillop in his study of eighteenth century sojourners in India provides a useful framework within which to consider these later Scottish professional colonial careerists. He highlights the cyclical nature of Scottish networks and identities “that evolved (or revolved) in response to the process of departure, residence abroad, and the prospect of returning home.”28 The careers of Begg and Wittet present two useful comparative examples: one who returned, one who died before returning. While they maintained Scottish connections while in India, I will suggest that it was upon Begg’s return to Scotland that he really became a “Scottish architect,” after which time he took on a critical role in training and supporting the development of Scottish architecture. Wittet’s premature death in India means that his life did not follow the pattern identified by Mackillop of a revival of Scottish connections with imminent departure. As such, his British imperial identity has superseded his Scottish origins in professional circles.

  • 29 Andrew Mackillop, “Locality, Nation, and Empire,” op. cit. (note 17), p. 57.
  • 30 London (United Kingdom), riba Library, photograph albums of George Wittet, albums A24 and A 25.

7This article explores the significance of the Scottish connection to Begg’s and Wittet’s professional networks and identity. Christopher London, as noted earlier, has studied their architectural endeavours and their buildings do not indicate a particular Scottish influence. In the context of this special issue, my focus therefore remains upon the nature of their relationship to Scotland and the British Empire within the architectural profession. It takes heed of Mackillop’s observation that “the methodology of highlighting Scottish distinctiveness rather that similarities or connections with England has distorted studies of Scotland’s place on the empire.”29 Rather than simply identifying Scottish connections at the exception of other influences, it will consider how these various local, national and imperial identities and relationships interacted and faded in and out of view at particular times. It draws on the relatively scarce extant textual and photographic sources referring to Begg’s and Wittet’s work, mostly in the form of official reports by both men and journal articles by Begg, as well as reports in newspapers including The Builder and the Journal of the Royal institute of British Architects. Begg was a prolific writer of reports after he initiated the publication of the Annual Report on the Architecture of India upon taking up the post of Consulting Architect of India in 1907. His commentary reflects upon topics such as the work of government architects in India, the challenges they faced including practical and professional issues, discussion of his own building designs and the influence of Indian architecture upon modern design. Wittet wrote far fewer reports and articles, although the Royal Institute of British Architects (riba hereafter) holds photograph albums he created of his building designs. These carefully compiled albums are the most personal documents thus far found, passed down to his children who subsequently donated them to the riba archive.30 At present no personal correspondence or private papers of either man have been located. We rely quite heavily, therefore, upon Begg’s numerous writings which provide a rich record of his career on the subcontinent as well as offering praise and insights into the work of his compatriot and colleague.

  • 31 John M. MacKenzie, “Empire and National Identities the Case of Scotland,” op. cit. (note 8), p. 21 (...)
  • 32 Tamson Pietsch, “A British Sea: Making Sense of Global Space in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Jour (...)
  • 33 G. A. Bremner, “The expansion of England?,” op. cit. (note 10), p. 3-4.
  • 34 See Bremner’s warning against envisaging colonial architecture “as the material counterpart to imp (...)

8The question of professional status and the tension between national and imperial identities will be scrutinised within these sources. MacKenzie has asked to what extent the British Empire and its rapid expansion tended “towards the confirmation of the identity of Greater Britain or of the Welsh, Irish, English and Scottish elements that made it up.”31 In this regard, Tamson Pietsch’s analysis of the voyages of Scottish doctor, James Thomas Wilson, in the late nineteenth century is illuminating and asserts the importance of travel and mobility in shaping identity. She identifies how through the multitude of encounters on board ship and in ports across the Indian Ocean world, Wilson “translated his Scottish world into a British imperial one.”32 This article will argue that, in the case of late nineteenth century Scottish sojourners, we see the significance of Scottish and British identities fluctuating over the period of these men’s careers. Bremner notes that in order to rethink and add further nuance to our understanding of colonial architecture, we can look beyond “its representational and discursive qualities” towards “less tangible but no less significant factors such as sub-identity, tradition and cultural sensibility.”33 I will suggest that in the Indian context, while Scottish identities were asserted at certain times and pursued socially, fighting for the recognition of the “architect of Greater Britain” was the more pressing professional concern for Begg, Wittet and their few professionally-trained architect colleagues. This argument does not, however, suggest that “imperial architects” shared similar intentions in their designs or reflected a vision of the “official mind” of the Empire.34 On the contrary, Begg’s writings and calls for appreciation of their work celebrated the variety and skill with which they developed designs compatible with distinct regions of India and the best of modern architecture. I also suggest that Begg’s ongoing battle for recognition for imperial architects amongst the metropolitan architectural establishment reflects the sense of inferiority that Scottish architects encountered in Britain. Finally, in common with many Scots serving in the empire, they shared a commitment to education, pioneering the development of formal training of Indian architects, ensuring that their influence endured.

From Scotland to India

  • 35 Gould notes that online sources refer to his being born in Blair Atholl, while the census records (...)
  • 36 John M. MacKenzie, “Empire and National Identities the Case of Scotland,” op. cit. (note 8), p. 22 (...)

9The origins and training of Begg and Wittet highlight several important influences upon their later careers in India. It is also worth noting the regional diversity of their origins. Begg was born in Bo’ness, between Edinburgh and Falkirk, in 1866 in lowland Scotland. Wittet was born in 1878 although there is some discrepancy in the records about his place of birth, whether Blair Atholl or Perth.35 While we do not know if he identified as a “highlander” coming from the central region bordering the more mountainous part of the country, he did not come further south to train in Edinburgh until 1898 and experienced a much more rural upbringing than Begg. Such geographical diversity was significant when living in Scotland but one aspect of Scots sojourning to the colonial world was to be thrown together with their fellow countrymen, and others from the Britain and Ireland. The collective Scottish identity as articulated overseas successfully overcame these regional differences. MacKenzie describes how the image of Scottishness combined Highland and Lowland elements, for example, through the use of Highland Games alongside their embrace of eminent lowland Scots figures such as Robert Burns and Walter Scott. This coalescence of regions under the banner of nineteenth-century Scottishness as formulated by Scott “helped to satisfy what was already perceived as the basic geographic, ethnic and cultural problem in a Scottish nationalist identity.”36

  • 37 For a full description of Begg’s training, see “John Begg,” Dictionary of Scottish Architects. URL (...)
  • 38 Alexander Paterson, “Memoir,” Journal of Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 44, no. 11, 2 (...)
  • 39 John M. MacKenzie, “Empire and National Identities the Case of Scotland,” op. cit. (note 8), p. 22 (...)
  • 40 John Begg, “Architecture in the Transvaal,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, (...)
  • 41 Cairnes Craig, “Empire of Intellect: The Scottish Enlightenment and Scotland’s Intellectual Migran (...)

10Both men trained within the established system of pupillage which architects undertook at the time. Begg was articled to the famed Scottish architect and antiquarian, Hippolyte Blanc, in Edinburgh and later in London in the offices of Alfred Waterhouse in the 1890s.37 During his training in London, the network of Scottish trainee architects was well-established. Alexander Paterson, in a memoir published on Begg’s death, recalled that: “we were contemporaries in the old days in London when no self-respecting architect’s office there considered itself completely furnished without a Scot as chief assistant (at £3, rising to £3 10s. a week!).”38 This quotation reflects the wider perception of Scots within Britain “as a people uniquely trained for medical, technical and environmental services.”39 Begg then spent four years working for the Real Estate Corporation of South Africa prior to his appointment to India in 1901. There he experienced the colonial world for the first time, discovering the multiple challenges architects faced in such contexts. The Transvaal for him, “a country so very new,” seemed devoid of public spirit, and thus showed little interest in public building, while the mild climate allowed the construction of buildings in a “temporary manner.”40 Writing during the South African war, Begg found his experience coloured by insecurity and hostility although he had hopes for a greater interest in architecture in more settled conditions. Wittet too had moved to England after two periods in offices in Edinburgh before applying to be Begg’s assistant in Bombay. The presence of a Scottish expatriate architectural community in England and both men’s choices to seek employment in the empire are perhaps indicative the need of Scottish professionals and graduates to look south and overseas to maintain their careers, due to a paucity of opportunities in Scotland and glut of graduates from Scottish universities.41

  • 42 R. A. Cage, “Editor’s Introduction,” in R. A. Cage (ed.), The Scots abroad: labour, capital, enter (...)
  • 43 John Begg, “Architecture in India,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 27, (...)

11Patronage amongst the Scottish community was a feature within the colonial world. In the commercial arena, scholarship has shown that Scots gave each other preferential treatment through kin and friendship networks, thus leading to the recreation of these communities within the colonies.42 We cannot know to what extent Wittet’s Scottish background influenced Begg’s decision to appoint him as his assistant. Certainly, Begg’s London experience described above suggests that there was a sense of kinship amongst the young Scottish architects working in the imperial capital. Begg may have found the name Wittet familiar, as he had trained in Blanc’s offices at a similar time to George’s cousin, John Wittet, in 1888-1889. He might have known the firm with which Wittet trained in Edinburgh. Wittet was also a prize-winning young architect so he was a promising appointment regardless of his national origin. The somewhat informal method of interview for Wittet’s position—coinciding with Begg’s period of leave in Britain—lies in contrast to subsequent appointments for architects to India. From the Annual Reports we learn that the India Office in London made these appointments, and during the 1910s, the government received advice from the riba on the selection, a practice Begg himself had helped to initiate.43 Begg was therefore not personally involved in these later appointments while he was still in India and indeed many Scots in Britain found riba circles notoriously difficult to infiltrate. Government service did not provide the same opportunities for national patronage as commercial business; thus Wittet’s appointment, whether influenced by national character and kinship networks or not, did not set a precedent.

Championing the imperial architect

  • 44 Peter Scriver, “Empire-building and Thinking in the Public Works Department of British India,” in (...)
  • 45 Ibid., p. 79-80.

12Much of what we can learn about Begg’s and Wittet’s experiences and professional careers in India comes from published speeches Begg delivered in London and Edinburgh and Begg’s Annual Reports on Architectural Work in India, produced from 1907 to 1916, which provide illuminating commentary on the progress and expansion of the architectural profession in India. Two key themes emerge within these writings: a focus on the increasing professionalism of the government architects in India and Begg’s determination that metropolitan architects appreciate the myriad challenges facing architects in India. His first paper, “The Architect in India,” delivered in 1911 at London’s East India Association (a body comprising London-based Indians and retired British officials) directly addressed the issue of the status of the professional architect in India. He situated the very recent arrival of a few trained architects in the longer history of British construction in India and the predominance of work undertaken by those classified as engineers. Until the creation of the Public Works Department (pwd hereafter) in 1855, military engineers led the construction of British building projects in India. Those subsequently employed by the pwd fell into three categories of engineer: civil, military and mechanical, with the Royal (military) Engineers forming, as Peter Scriver observes, an “elite minority […] favoured with a disproportionate measure of authority in the Department as a whole.”44 Scriver highlights how the pwd was required to create “mundane buildings” for which “questions of ‘architecture’ rarely arose.”45

  • 46 John Begg, “The Architect in India,” The Architect and Contract Reporter, vol. 85, no. 2213, 19 Ma (...)

13Begg was one of the first consulting architects appointed to work with, and sometimes against, this entrenched system. In the decade since his arrival, Begg noted that only “a handful of men” were in Government positions, who “can do no more than touch the fringe of the vast mantle of bricks and mortar which the continent of India requires continually to be weaving to veil her growing sense of nakedness.”46 To combat this, he proposed that the British officers across Indian government service responsible for architecture (the “amateur architects”) pay greater attention to advice from professionals. Yet this was a challenging task:

  • 47 Ibid.

Now, the amateur architects of India, be they operatives or engineers or administrators, though well intentioned and by no means unintelligent, are seldom humble. Their life, their training, their traditions, their seniority, and the amount of their pay, compared to that of the architect’s, none of these things make for humility or docility in this connection. As things are in India, humility is hardly a quality to render a man an effective servant of the Empire.47

  • 48 See for example, a speech at the St Andrew’s Day dinner in 1906 included a quote from The Bombay G (...)

14In addition to the problems of climate, materials, workforce and stylistic concerns, the structure of imperial service and the attitudes of its servants severely tested the few trained British architects. It is also possible that in this piece Begg was making a thinly veiled allusion to a domineering English attitude of dominance and superiority, while humility was a trait in which Scots took particular pride as a national characteristic.48

  • 49 John Begg, “Architecture in India,” op. cit. (note 43), p. 334.
  • 50 Ibid.
  • 51 “Mr. John Begg,” The Times, 26 February 1937, p. 18.

15This lack of respect within India for architectural specialists was an issue Begg expanded upon in a later paper delivered at the riba in 1920. Here he explained: “The opinion of a civilian of over twelve years’ standing, or, say a of a Lieutenant-Colonel, will outweigh that of any architect even on an architectural point. A General—above, say, the rank of Brigadier, certainly a Lieutenant-Governor, may blast the reputation of an architect-member of the Royal Academy.”49 The architect must “lay his rails” through “a jungle of prejudice, misconception, scant appreciation, and even jealousy.”50 This passage underlines the significant professional opposition that the trained architects had to face within the existing system dominated by engineers and the pwd. Begg’s paper then developed into a celebration of what these architects had achieved, in spite of working, as many government architects did, in isolation. Begg’s annual reports were praised as a vital source of communication between architects in the subcontinent who had to cope with this professional separation and as integral “to modern architectural development across the country.”51

  • 52 Architectural Work in India for the year 1909-1910, op. cit. (note 42), p. 2.
  • 53 Ibid.
  • 54 Ibid.
  • 55 Ibid.
  • 56 Architectural Work in India for the year 1911-1912, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, (...)

16The question of training of the next generation of architects within the empire inevitably emerged out of Begg’s observations about the paucity of professionals in India. Begg’s predecessor, James Ransome, initiated the pupillage system in the early 1900s, and Begg noted in 1910 that the “first India trained architectural pupil,” Mr. Hale, was going to London to complete his training.52 Begg was keen to continue this practice and also extend this to Indians. He believed “they should receive an equal chance of availing themselves of the opportunity to acquire the rudiments of such an honourable, useful and by no means unremunerative profession as that of the architect.”53 Begg observed that architecture could offer an avenue that was important for the country but also for the educated individual given that several other professions, including law and medicine, and Government clerk service, were at present overcrowded.54 While courses in architecture at art schools were also essential, Begg believed that the “pupillage system made the British profession what it is”; architects needed to “be in the job” in order for India to develop an architectural profession that could be respected around the world without “undue borrowing of its personnel from overseas.”55 With the small number of trained architects in the subcontinent, Begg acknowledged that establishing a pupillage system in India would take many years but he continued to try to bring this issue to government attention and retain permission to incorporate pupils into Government architectural offices. On a visit to Britain 1911-1912, Begg visited architectural schools in London and Edinburgh and was impressed at the leaps these institutions had taken since the time of his training, when pupillage had been the principal method of learning the craft. He found this a “sobering experience,” seeing how much was still to be done in India and reflected that: “The architect in India stands midway between the ruins of the art of the past on the one hand and the modern tendency towards unvarnished utilitarianism combined with commercial exploiting of art on the other.”56

  • 57 Cairnes Craig, “Empire of Intellect,” op. cit. (note 41), p. 93-98; Esther Breitenbach, “Scots Chu (...)
  • 58 Christopher W. London, “Edwardian Architects of Bombay,” op. cit. (note 4), p. 44.
  • 59 Peter Scriver and Amit Srivastava, India: Modern Architectures in History, London: Reaktion Books, (...)

17Improvement in the development of Indian architectural practice was an area to which both Begg and Wittet devoted much time. In their commitment in this area, Begg and Wittet followed in a long line of Scots pushing forward the construction of educational institutions in the colonial world.57 Architectural training, in particular of Indians, was an area in which both men were instrumental. Begg established a technical draughtsmanship course which Wittet then transformed into a four-year architectural curriculum that he began teaching at the Sir Jamshetji Jeejeebhoy School of Art in 1908. Wittet also designed the technical building for the school as “a model structure with which to teach his ideas.”58 This classically-designed building was adapted to suit the Indian environment, for example through its ventilation holes at foot level and Diocletian windows providing further flow of air. Peter Scriver and Amit Srivastava note that it was “the first generation of graduates from the J. J. School who were to form the nucleus of the Indian Institute of Architects, which was formally established in Bombay in 1929.”59

  • 60 John Begg, “Obituary: George Wittet,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 3 (...)
  • 61 John Begg, “The Work of George Wittet,” op. cit. (note 2), p. 72.
  • 62 Architectural Work in India for the year 1914-1915, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, (...)

18In his writings, Begg represented Wittet as his ideal pupil and a model architect of empire. At the time of Wittet’s death, Begg presented an Appreciation at the riba in 1929 and the Edinburgh Architectural Association in 1930, and also wrote several obituaries. Throughout these publications, Begg both celebrated Wittet’s work and lamented the tragedy of his premature death, calling for greater recognition in the metropole of the architects of “Greater Britain.”60 Naturally this strategy in part highlights his own role as a mentor and collaborator but his writings display self-awareness in this respect and concentrate on Wittet’s individual brilliance. In 1929, for example, he wrote that by selecting Wittet, he conferred an enormous boon on Government, and I did my best for architecture in general—for that of India in particular. It was, perhaps, the best contribution to architecture of my life.”61 He believed Wittet’s Prince of Wales Museum (fig. 3) to be “the most important mark of progress which has appeared for many years.”62 In keeping with Begg’s ideal of model of what imperial architecture should be—one which blended Indian traditions in a modern form—he wrote effusively of this building:

  • 63 Ibid., p. 2.

It is a highly successful piece of work and specially interesting for the admirable way in which forms and architectonic ideas of indigenous character have been employed without sacrifice either of its modernness and suitability to its purpose or of its consonance with the true spirit of Indian work. This is living work and no experiment in antiquarian revivalism—no counterfeit of antiquity, but a model of what an Indian modern public building should be.63

  • 64 Ibid.

19Begg praised the way in which the interior was as effective as the exterior. Previous Indo-Saracenic buildings had been criticised for their interior design, thus this building would stand as a model for an architectural style “evolved on the soil of India amid the stress of modern requirements and conditions and in full recognition of modern methods of construction and building administration.”64

  • 65 John Begg, “Obituary: George Wittet,” op. cit. (note 60), p. 619.
  • 66 Ibid., p. 618.
  • 67 “John Begg,” Dictionary of Scottish Architects. URL: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architec (...)
  • 68 Duncan Macmillan, Scotland’s shrine: the Scottish National War Memorial, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, p (...)

20Begg believed Wittet had “an intuitive grasp for architectural requirements that amounted to genius” and that his premature death under the age of 50 was “one of the most nearly commonplace of the events of his remarkable career in India.”65 His output was equal to “a Lutyens, a Lorimer or a Baker” and declared that “in quality they [his works] are not inferior to the average of these great Masters of Architecture. Yet his name is hardly known.”66 What is notable in terms of the present discussion of Scottish influence is Begg’s inclusion of Robert Lorimer alongside Lutyens and Baker, who, following their high-profile work in Britain, New Delhi and elsewhere in the empire, were two of the most highly regarded British architects of the era. The choice of Luytens for the New Delhi commission was disappointing for Begg and there was some controversy over Begg’s role on the committee but he acknowledged in this extract both Lutyens’ and Baker’s pre-eminence.67 Begg had trained with Lorimer on his return from South Africa before taking up his appointment in India. When writing Wittet’s obituaries in 1926, Begg was by then resident in Edinburgh at the time when Lorimer was finishing the Scottish National War Memorial, a project which cemented his reputation as Scotland’s leading architect. Interestingly, Duncan MacMillan, in his analysis of Lorimer’s work on the shrine and its committee, observes similar traits of nationalism as can be discerned in the work of the Scottish architects abroad: “For all that these men believed in the Union, and beyond it the Empire, for them Scottish identity was not dissolved in that greater whole. It remained a tangible attribute of an individual and a source of pride.”68 For Begg, then, one of Scotland’s greatest living architects was on a par with English counterparts and he argued that Wittet merited consideration alongside them.

  • 69 John Begg, “The Work of George Wittet,” op. cit. (note 2), p. 82.
  • 70 Ibid (note 2).
  • 71 G. A. Bremner, Imperial Gothic: Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Em (...)

21The opportunity to speak about Wittet’s work at the riba allowed Begg to underline his main argument: “that only those at or within sight of the centre need hope to obtain adequate professional recognition.”69 He was determined to use this opportunity to persuade the riba to take greater interest in British architectural work in the wider world. In language emphasising toil and sacrifice, Begg explained that interest from the riba would “have a far-reaching effect not only in heartening our brethren who are labouring in India, in the Colonies, and otherwise more or less out of sight of Headquarters, but also in helping to guide public opinion in these farther parts of our Empire towards a better appreciation of men who are still in the thick of the fight, who are still labouring in the cause of architecture.”70 Through a celebration of Wittet’s work, Begg advocated for imperial architecture to be considered alongside architecture in Britain—an issue which, as Bremner has highlighted, has persisted within British architectural history.71 In the professional context, therefore, the assertion of British imperial identity was the key issue at stake.

Scottish connections: tracing social and religious networks

  • 72 This institution is now the Bombay Scottish School, an elite private school.
  • 73 “Scottish Presbyterian soldiers in India—use of government churches,” HL Deb 25 March 1901, vol. 9 (...)
  • 74 C.G.S., “Obituary: John Begg,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 44, no.  (...)
  • 75 Architectural Work in India for the year 1912-1913, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, (...)
  • 76 Architectural Work in India for the year 1909-1910, op. cit. (note 42), p. 30.
  • 77 Architectural Work in India for the year 1914-1915, op. cit. (note 59), p. 14.

22The professional world that Begg and Wittet inhabited, where we see Begg in particular ascribing to the identity of the Greater British architect, was only one aspect of their imperial experience. Much historiography on the Scots overseas emphasises the importance of social and religious connections. In the absence of personal correspondence and papers, it is more challenging to reconstruct Begg’s and Wittet’s networks and thus to establish ties to the Scottish community in India and Scotland. Bombay was home to a number of Scots, with several Presbyterian churches and the Bombay Scottish orphanage founded in the mid-nineteenth century by missionaries.72 As noted by Angela McCarthy, connections to Scottish identity were often rooted in the church. In a colony such as India without significant numbers of settlers, these sub-networks were significant communities through which to maintain Scottish identities. Wittet was not buried in a Presbyterian graveyard but this is not necessarily indicative of his eschewal of the Scottish church. We know a little more about Begg in this regard, in that he designed several Presbyterian churches in the subcontinent in his role as Government Architect for India. These constructions were part of a wider initiative. In 1901, a House of Lords debate discussed the need for more Presbyterian churches in India to serve the Highland soldiers, after an incident where they were refused entry into garrison churches.73 At that time and for the next decade, Presbyterian churches were erected across the country and Begg had a hand in several of these. His obituary in the Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects records his designs for “Presbyterian churches at Simla, Jubbulpore, Quetta etc” and we read of the progress of these constructions in his Annual Reports.74 He noted in 1913 that the church in Jubbulpore was “urgently called for” and the Secretary of State had issued orders that it was one that had to be completed in early 1914.75 It is possible that some Scottish association was preferred for designs where possible, such as the Scotch Church in Rawalpindi, completed in 1909 being designed by an Aberdeen firm.76 However, he and his fellow architects all designed buildings for the various Christian faiths across India—Begg’s designs described in the Annual Reports therefore do not necessarily connote any particular choice to support constructions for the Scottish community. However, his analysis of the Jubbulpore Church indicates his national authority over the form of such buildings: “To my mind it is a successful work in one particular at least, viz., that it could hardly be mistaken for anything but what it is—a Presbyterian Church.”77

  • 78 Building News, vol. 119, no. 3430, 1 October 1920, p. 162.

23There is a suggestion from an as yet uncorroborated source that he designed the St Andrew’s Kirk in Simla free of charge, perhaps indicating adherence to the Church of Scotland. From the available evidence this seems plausible—or at least that he was privately commissioned. In the Building News of 1920, the “Scotch Church” at Simla was described as typical of Begg’s best work while it is not mentioned in any official Annual Reports.78 The foundation stone reportedly has an inscription in Scots laid by the Viceroy Lord Hardinge on 30 August 1914:

This Kirk was
Biggit Be Godlie
Men in the year
Of our Lord 1914.79

  • 80 John M. MacKenzie, “Empire and National Identities the Case of Scotland,” op. cit. (note 8), p. 22 (...)
  • 81 “John Begg,” Dictionary of Scottish Architects. URL:http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect (...)
  • 82 Sean Murphy, Broadly speaking: Scots language and British imperialism, PhD dissertation, Universit (...)
  • 83 Ibid.

24This text supports MacKenzie’s observation that “Scots linguistic distinctions embraced Scots as well as Gaelic” for the Scottish overseas and the use of Scots has been obscured by concentration upon Gaelic as the diaspora language.80 Begg reportedly claimed descent from Robert Burns, so may have held a particular attachment to the Scots tongue.81 Sean Murphy, in a study of the use of Scots in the Americas and India, argues that the select use of Scots lexicon was a performative device which stressed “a commendable Scottish commitment to the tenets of British imperialism.”82 It was simultaneously “celebratory and sentimental,” while the wide influence of Burns and Walter Scott “offered accessible templates for infusing English ‘standards’ with a Scots linguistic presence both foreign and familiar—recognisable and yet recognisably distinct within an ultimately ‘English’ discourse.”83 The inclusion of such an inscription and, if correct, that the church was designed free of charge is a strong suggestion of Begg’s participation in and support of the Presbyterian network in India.

  • 84 The Bombay Gazette, 1 December 1906, p. 5.
  • 85 Ibid., p. 6.

25In the absence of personal papers for either man, it is challenging to reconstruct Begg’s and Wittet’s social networks. Newspaper accounts from the Bombay Gazette, however, provide evidence that Begg and Wittet participated in the Scottish annual celebrations, as discussed in the introduction. They are first both listed as attendees at the Bombay St Andrew’s Day dinner on Friday 30 November 1906, two years after Wittet arrived.84 It is possible they had attended earlier as the lists in the Bombay Gazette are not comprehensive and there had been no event in 1905. For the 1906 event, the “Brither Scots” met in the Town Hall and were treated to an evening of speeches, poetry, pipers, whisky and haggis, presided over by the Governor of Bombay, Lord Lamington. Attention was drawn to the fact that the Viceroy at that time was also a fellow Scot. The Earl of Minto, like Lamington, had Scottish titles and estates although he had been born and educated in England. This event and others like them lauded the qualities of the Scots in India and their particular contributions, as well as the importance of the wider imperial project in the subcontinent. Begg seems also to have given one of the many toasts at this event, that to “The Forces.” In praising a military or naval man, he noted that he was both a “good fellow,” but “also a most useful fellow, and for that reason he appeals strongly to our utilitarian fellow countrymen.”85 He acknowledged tensions that could exist between civil and military sections of the community but that they were ultimately intertwined and welded together. Begg included a few verses in Scots by a “Scottish bard, unknown to fame” which began “Oh who wad be a sodger?,” celebrating the strengths of the Scottish soldier. While framing his speech through Scottish language and remarking upon the presence of the Scottish regiment at that time stationed in Bombay, it is clear that this toast praised an imperial effort, underlining Buettner’s observation that these events permitted national and imperial identity to be simultaneously celebrated. By being asked to propose this toast, Begg had evidently become a well-known figure in Bombay Scottish circles in his early years in India. Wittet is listed as an attendee in 1911 after Begg had moved to Delhi and their presence indicates that the government’s architects were seen as part of Bombay’s Scottish social elite.

26Begg’s return to Scotland, after his term of office in India ended in 1921, marked the start of the second phase of his career. Moving back to Scotland was not necessarily a given: several Scots in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, such as Sir John Kirk, who had served for long duration in the colonies, moved to London or the South East to take up posts in the Colonial Office.86 However, it seems that in Begg’s case, familial and professional ties encouraged him to move to Edinburgh. On his return, he set up a private practice with Alexander Lorne Campbell and soon after in 1922 became head of the architectural section of the Edinburgh College of Art. He continued his dedication to architectural education and became a key supporter for Scots architects in his roles as President of the Edinburgh Architectural Association and of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland. He persisted in trying to bring greater attention to architects from outside London to the attention of the riba, as testified by the number of architects he proposed to the riba. Wittet was the only architect Begg proposed for Licentiateship and then Fellowship (both in 1912) before his return to Scotland. Thereafter of the 97 individuals he proposed for Associateships, Licentiateships or Fellowships the vast majority were Scots, including Isobel Beattie, the first female architect in regular professional practice in Scotland, and several other pioneering women.87 Almost all the young architects he supported studied under him at the Edinburgh College of Art. He supported the application of Vishwa Nath Prasad, who had studied at the Sir J. J. School of Art in Bombay and gained a diploma in 1932. Prasad then came to the Edinburgh College of Art, presumably due to the ties developed by Begg, who proposed him as an Associate to the riba.88 One of the few Begg supported not born in Scotland was Basil Spence, who had been born in Bombay and lived there for some years before being sent to school in Scotland. It is tempting to speculate that Begg knew his parents within the small European community in Bombay. It is clear, therefore, that once Begg was installed at the Edinburgh School of Art, he regarded it his duty to support the professional recognition for young Scottish architects within the British-wide body based in London. It seems possible that his feelings of exclusion from the capital, which had so irked him when in Bombay, persisted when moving to Scotland. While he oversaw the education of numerous budding students, he was well aware that assuring their recognition by the riba was an essential part of his responsibility in developing Scottish architects and the profession in Scotland. Obituaries noted his altruism and support for students, which led one obituary writer to speculate that his experience “in the East… had cast over him the mantel of her selfless philosophy.”89

Conclusion

  • 90 Christopher W. London, “Edwardian Architects of Bombay,” op. cit. (note 4), p. 37.
  • 91 John Begg, “Obituary: George Wittet,” op. cit. (note 60), p. 618.
  • 92 London (United Kingdom), ribaLibrary, photograph albums of George Wittet, dedication.
  • 93 C.G.S., “Obituary: John Begg,” op. cit. (note 74), p. 466.

27Wittet and Begg’s contributions to architecture in India remain prominent features of the cityscape in cities across India, and most particularly in Mumbai, and endure through their pioneering work in the field of architectural education. London’s essay calls for greater recognition of their work in Mumbai, arguing that they “stand out as original thinkers and central figures in determining the city’s appearance during this busy period.”90 This recent plea for acknowledgement echoes those of Begg in the 1920s: “It is one of the harsh penalties of service in ‘Greater Britain’ that a man abroad is almost invariably denied that authoritative recognition by the representative organs of professional opinion which is rightly enough valued by the sane and normal man.”91 Through this analysis, I have shown that Begg’s greatest professional concern while serving in India was to promote the interests of the “imperial architect.” Wittet’s Scottish background has receded from view (although his wife died in Edinburgh and his son later lived there).92 Begg, on the other hand, was remembered as Scottish. As the riba obituary-writer wrote: “Mr. John Begg’s sudden passing leaves a blank in the ranks of Scottish architects which will not be easily filled.”93 I suggest that the Scottish connection, as with Mackillop’s sojourners, played a role on arrival in India in cementing Begg and Wittet’s relationship, one that they kept up socially but in the professional scene focused upon all “Greater British” architects, thus maintaining a fluid adherence to Scottish and British identities. In the imperial context, framed by encounters with multiple peoples and cultures, identities became even more malleable and could be deployed for personal and professional purposes. On Begg’s return, his role in developing the architecture of the Scottish nation came to the fore.

  • 94 G. A. Bremner, “The Expansion of England?,” op. cit. (note 10), p. 2.

28Bremner has suggested that the various nations of Britain made “identifiable, and in some cases unique, contributions to the built environment throughout the wider British world.”94 In this case, Begg and Witttet made highly significant contributions at a time when the architectural profession in India was in its infancy. The breadth and variety of their work—much of which survives today—far outweighs that of other more famous architects working on the subcontinent, and for this reason alone they merit our attention for highlighting the contribution of Scots to the imperial built environment. This article has suggested that Begg’s tireless promotion of the work of architects in “Greater Britain” was in part a result of his experiences as a Scottish architect at a time when architects across Britain struggled to gain recognition in London. His work also confirms that there was no “official mind” of architecture in India, and he sought to highlight both the strength and originality of diversity. Begg’s careful study of indigenous architecture and incorporation of these elements in modern ways was not uniquely Scottish, although an appreciation of history was certainly a feature of those such as Blanc with whom he trained. In common with many of their compatriots throughout the history of empire, Begg and Wittet were devoted to promoting education and would leave a legacy on which later British and South Asian architects could build. This article has examined Scottish connections where evidence exists, yet not exclusively as we must also position them within their Indian and imperial context. Their Scottishness, celebrated at St Andrew’s Day celebrations, and indicated by Begg’s return to Scotland, formed part of their British and imperial identity, and these multiple connections were entirely compatible. Begg’s work within Scotland enabled him to be celebrated as a Scottish architect, while Wittet’s premature death on the subcontinent severed some of these ties in his reputation, meaning that he is largely famed as a British imperial architect.

Haut de page

Notes

1 “St Andrew’s Day: Celebration in Bombay,” The Bombay Gazette, Monday 2 December 1901, p. 6. Quote from toast by Rev. R. Scott.

2 John Begg, “The Work of George Wittet: An Appreciation,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 36, no. 14, 1 June 1929, p. 539.

3 For clarity, Mumbai will be referred to as Bombay when discussing the colonial period.

4 Christopher W. London, “Edwardian Architects of Bombay: George Wittet and John Begg,” in Christopher W. London (ed.), Architecture in Victorian and Edwardian India, Marg Publications, 1994, p. 35-52.

5 Thomas R. Metcalf, An Imperial Vision: Indian Architecture and Britain’s Raj, London : Faber and Faber, 1989; Philip Davies, Splendours of the Raj: British Architecture in India, 1660 to 1947, London: John Murray, 1985; Gavin Stamp, “British Architecture in India, 1857-1947,” Journal of the Royal Society of Arts, vol. 129, no. 5298, 1981, p. 357-379; Jan Morris and Robert Fermor-Hesketh (eds.), Architecture of the British Empire, London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1986.

6 Architectural Work in India for the year 1914-1915, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, 1915, p. 17-18.

7 John M.  MacKenzie, “Essay and Reflection: On Scotland and the Empire,”The International History Review, vol. 15, no. 4, 1993, p. 722. Examples of recent work in this field include: Angela  McCarthy (ed.), A global clan: Scottish migrant networks and identities since the eighteenth century, London: Tauris Academic Studies, 2006 (International library of historical studies, 36); John  MacKenzie and T. M  Devine (eds.), Scotland and the British Empire, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011 (The Oxford history of British empire. Companion series); Douglas Hamilton, Scotland, the Caribbean and the Atlantic world, 1750-1820, Manchester; New York, NY: Manchester University Press, 2005; Andrew MacKillop, “More fruitful than the soil”: army, empire and the Scottish Highlands, 1715-1815, East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 2000; John M. MacKenzie, The Scots in South Africa: Ethnicity, Identity, Gender and Race, 1772-1914, Johannesburg: Wits University Press, 2007.

8 See John M. MacKenzie, “Irish, Scottish, Welsh and English Worlds? A Four-Nation Approach to the History of the British Empire,” History Compass, vol. 6, no. 5, 1 September 2008, p. 1244-1263; Idem, , “Essay and Reflection: On Scotland and the Empire,”, op. cit. (note 7); Idem, The Scots in South Africa, op. cit. (note 7); Idem, “Empire and National Identities the Case of Scotland,” Transactions of the Royal Historical Society, vol. 8, 1998, p. 215-231.

9 John M. MacKenzie and T. M Devine, “Introduction,” in John M. MacKenzie and T. M Devine (eds.), Scotland and the British Empire, op. cit. (note 7), p. 4, 20.

10 G. A. Bremner, “The expansion of England? Scotland, architectural history, and the wider British world,” Journal of Art Historiography, vol. 18, 2018, p. 3.

11 Special issue edited by Deborah Howard on “Scottish Architects Abroad,” in Architectural Heritage, vol. 2, no. 1, November 1991.

12 Sophie Drinkall, “The Jamaican Plantation House: Scottish Influence,” ibid., p. 56-68; Hideo Izumida, “Scottish Architects in the Far East: 1840 - 1870,” ibid., p. 93-98.

13 G. A. Bremner (ed.), Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2016 (The Oxford history of the British Empire companion series).

14 Stuart King and Julie Willis, “The Australian Colonies,” in ibid., p. 335.

15 Charles McKean and David M. Walker, “The Professorial on the Professional: A History of the Scottish Architectural Profession,” in Rebecca M. Bailey (ed.), Scottish architects’ papers: a source book, Edinburgh: Rutland Press, 1996, p. 19.

16 Angela McCarthy (ed.), A global clan, op. cit. (note 7); T. M. Devine, To the ends of the earth: Scotland’s global diaspora, 1750-2010, London: Penguin, 2012.

17 Andrew MacKillop, “Locality, Nation, and Empire: Scots and the Empire in Asia, c.1695-c.1813,” in John M. MacKenzie and T. M. Devine (eds.), Scotland and the British Empire, op. cit. (note 7), p. 55.

18 Richard J. Finlay, “National Identity, Union, and Empire, C. 1850 - c. 1970,” in ibid. (note 7), p. 283.

19 James G. Parker, “Scottish Enterprise in India, 1750 - 1914,” in R. A. Cage (ed.), The Scots abroad: labour, capital, enterprise, 1750-1914, London: Croom Helm, 1984, p. 191.

20 See for example, Andrew Porter, “Scottish missions and education in nineteenth-century India: The changing face of ‘trusteeship’,” The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, vol. 16, May 1988, p. 35-57; Philip Constable, “Scottish Missionaries, ‘Protestant Hinduism’ and the Scottish Sense of Empire in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century India,” The Scottish Historical Review, vol. 86, no. 222, 2007, p. 278-313; Esther Breitenbach, “Scots Churches and Missions,” in John M. MacKenzie and T. M. Devine (eds.), Scotland and the British Empire, op. cit. (note 7), p. 196-226.

21 Elizabeth Buettner, “Haggis in the Raj: Private and Public Celebrations of Scottishness in Late Imperial India,” The Scottish Historical Review, vol. 81, no. 212, Part 2, October 2002, p. 212-239.

22 Ibid., p. 215.

23 Ibid., p. 215-216.

24 Tanja Bueltmann, Andrew Hinson and Graeme Morton, The Scottish diaspora, Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2013, p. 115.

25 Ibid., p. 235.

26 Andrew Mackillop, “Europeans, Britons, and Scots: Scottish sojourning networks and identities in Asia, c.1700-1815,” in Angela McCarthy (ed.), A global clan, op. cit. (note 7), p. 19-47.

27 For discussion of the itinerant lives of colonial servants, see David Lambert and Alan Lester (eds.), Colonial Lives Across the British Empire: Imperial Careering in the Long Nineteenth Century, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006.

28 Andrew Mackillop, “Europeans, Britons, and Scots,” op. cit. (note 26), p. 21.

29 Andrew Mackillop, “Locality, Nation, and Empire,” op. cit. (note 17), p. 57.

30 London (United Kingdom), riba Library, photograph albums of George Wittet, albums A24 and A 25.

31 John M. MacKenzie, “Empire and National Identities the Case of Scotland,” op. cit. (note 8), p. 215.

32 Tamson Pietsch, “A British Sea: Making Sense of Global Space in the Late Nineteenth Century,” Journal of Global History, vol. 5, no. 3, 2010, p. 442.

33 G. A. Bremner, “The expansion of England?,” op. cit. (note 10), p. 3-4.

34 See Bremner’s warning against envisaging colonial architecture “as the material counterpart to imperial discourse at large,” in Ibid., p. 3.

35 Gould notes that online sources refer to his being born in Blair Atholl, while the census records Perth: see “George Wittet,” Dictionary of Scottish Architects. URL:http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=202059. Accessed 4 November 2017.

36 John M. MacKenzie, “Empire and National Identities the Case of Scotland,” op. cit. (note 8), p. 221.

37 For a full description of Begg’s training, see “John Begg,” Dictionary of Scottish Architects. URL:http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200375. Accessed 14 August 2018.

38 Alexander Paterson, “Memoir,” Journal of Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 44, no. 11, 20 March 1937, p. 519.

39 John M. MacKenzie, “Empire and National Identities the Case of Scotland,” op. cit. (note 8), p. 223.

40 John Begg, “Architecture in the Transvaal,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 7, November 1899, p. 81-82, 84.

41 Cairnes Craig, “Empire of Intellect: The Scottish Enlightenment and Scotland’s Intellectual Migrants,” in John M. MacKenzie and T. M. Devine (eds.), Scotland and the British Empire, op. cit. (note 7), p. 86 ; John M. MacKenzie and T. M. Devine, “Introduction,” op. cit. (note 9), p. 3.

42 R. A. Cage, “Editor’s Introduction,” in R. A. Cage (ed.), The Scots abroad: labour, capital, enterprise, 1750-1914, London: Croom Helm, 1984, p. v.

43 John Begg, “Architecture in India,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 27, no. 14, 29 May 1920, p. 349. In his Annual reports, Begg mentions other examples of appointments made to architectural positions by the Secretary of State for the India Office, see Architectural Work in India for the year 1909-1910, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, 1910, p. 1; Architectural Work in India for the year 1910-1911, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, 1911, p. 1.

44 Peter Scriver, “Empire-building and Thinking in the Public Works Department of British India,” in Peter Scriver and Vikramaditya Prakash (eds.), Colonial Modernities: Building, Dwelling and Architecture in British India and Ceylon, London : Routledge, 2007 (Architext), p. 89.

45 Ibid., p. 79-80.

46 John Begg, “The Architect in India,” The Architect and Contract Reporter, vol. 85, no. 2213, 19 May 1911, p. 312.

47 Ibid.

48 See for example, a speech at the St Andrew’s Day dinner in 1906 included a quote from The Bombay Gazette which described how the Scots “have acquired humility, patience and the retiring modesty which is their priceless modesty.” The Bombay Gazette, 1 December 1906, p. 5.

49 John Begg, “Architecture in India,” op. cit. (note 43), p. 334.

50 Ibid.

51 “Mr. John Begg,” The Times, 26 February 1937, p. 18.

52 Architectural Work in India for the year 1909-1910, op. cit. (note 42), p. 2.

53 Ibid.

54 Ibid.

55 Ibid.

56 Architectural Work in India for the year 1911-1912, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, 1912, p. 1.

57 Cairnes Craig, “Empire of Intellect,” op. cit. (note 41), p. 93-98; Esther Breitenbach, “Scots Churches and Missions,” op. cit. (note 20), p. 203.

58 Christopher W. London, “Edwardian Architects of Bombay,” op. cit. (note 4), p. 44.

59 Peter Scriver and Amit Srivastava, India: Modern Architectures in History, London: Reaktion Books, 2015 (Modern Architecture in History), p. 96.

60 John Begg, “Obituary: George Wittet,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 33, no. 20, 16 October 1926, p. 618-619.

61 John Begg, “The Work of George Wittet,” op. cit. (note 2), p. 72.

62 Architectural Work in India for the year 1914-1915, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, 1915, p. 1.

63 Ibid., p. 2.

64 Ibid.

65 John Begg, “Obituary: George Wittet,” op. cit. (note 60), p. 619.

66 Ibid., p. 618.

67 “John Begg,” Dictionary of Scottish Architects. URL: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200375. Accessed 14 August 2018.

68 Duncan Macmillan, Scotland’s shrine: the Scottish National War Memorial, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, p. 34.

69 John Begg, “The Work of George Wittet,” op. cit. (note 2), p. 82.

70 Ibid (note 2).

71 G. A. Bremner, Imperial Gothic: Religious Architecture and High Anglican Culture in the British Empire, c.1840-70, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2013, p. xiii, 431-436.

72 This institution is now the Bombay Scottish School, an elite private school.

73 “Scottish Presbyterian soldiers in India—use of government churches,” HL Deb 25 March 1901, vol. 91, cc. 1068-72. URL: https://api.parliament.uk/historic-hansard/lords/1901/mar/25/scottish-presbyterian-soldiers-in-india. Accessed 3 November 2018.

74 C.G.S., “Obituary: John Begg,” Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, vol. 44, no. 9, 6 March 1937, p. 466.

75 Architectural Work in India for the year 1912-1913, Calcutta: Superintendent Government Printing, 1913, p. 28.

76 Architectural Work in India for the year 1909-1910, op. cit. (note 42), p. 30.

77 Architectural Work in India for the year 1914-1915, op. cit. (note 59), p. 14.

78 Building News, vol. 119, no. 3430, 1 October 1920, p. 162.

79 Independent researcher, URL: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200375https://www.flickr.com/photos/23268776@N03/4273505989. Accessed 30 October 2017.

80 John M. MacKenzie, “Empire and National Identities the Case of Scotland,” op. cit. (note 8), p. 221.

81 “John Begg,” Dictionary of Scottish Architects. URL:http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=200375. Accessed 14 August 2018.

82 Sean Murphy, Broadly speaking: Scots language and British imperialism, PhD dissertation, University of St Andrews, St Andrews, January 2017, p. 201.

83 Ibid.

84 The Bombay Gazette, 1 December 1906, p. 5.

85 Ibid., p. 6.

86 Sarah Longair, “Kirk after the Zambesi: diplomacy, material culture and East Africa,” in Sarah Worden (ed.), David Livingstone: man, myth and legacy, Edinburgh: NMS, 2012, p. 100-113.

87 “Isobel Beattie,” Dictionary of Scottish Architects. URL: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=100348. Accessed 14 August 2018.

88 “Vishwa Nath Prasad,” Dictionary of Scottish Architects URL: http://www.scottisharchitects.org.uk/architect_full.php?id=100436. Accessed 14 August 2018.

89 C.G.S., “Obituary: John Begg,” op. cit. (note 74), p. 466.

90 Christopher W. London, “Edwardian Architects of Bombay,” op. cit. (note 4), p. 37.

91 John Begg, “Obituary: George Wittet,” op. cit. (note 60), p. 618.

92 London (United Kingdom), ribaLibrary, photograph albums of George Wittet, dedication.

93 C.G.S., “Obituary: John Begg,” op. cit. (note 74), p. 466.

94 G. A. Bremner, “The Expansion of England?,” op. cit. (note 10), p. 2.

Haut de page

Table des illustrations

Titre Figure 1: General Post Office, Bombay (1909-13), by John Begg.
Crédits Source: private collection.
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/5767/img-1.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 84k
Titre Figure 2: Prince of Wales Museum, Bombay (1905-15), by George Wittet.
Crédits Source: Bernard Gagnon - Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0: https://commons.wikimedia.org/​w/​index.php?curid=30550585).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/5767/img-2.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 119k
Titre Figure 3: Gateway of India, Bombay (1911-24), by George Wittet.
Crédits Source: G. A. Bremner).
URL http://journals.openedition.org/abe/docannexe/image/5767/img-3.jpg
Fichier image/jpeg, 99k
Haut de page

Pour citer cet article

Référence électronique

Sarah Longair, « Scottish architects, imperial identities and India’s built environment in the early twentieth century: the careers of John Begg and George Wittet », ABE Journal [En ligne], 14-15 | 2019, mis en ligne le 28 juillet 2019, consulté le 16 septembre 2019. URL : http://journals.openedition.org/abe/5767 ; DOI : 10.4000/abe.5767

Haut de page

Auteur

Sarah Longair

Senior Lecturer, School of History and Heritage, University of Lincoln, Lincoln, United Kingdom

Articles du même auteur

Haut de page

Droits d’auteur

Licence Creative Commons
La revue ABE Journal est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de Modification 4.0 International.

Haut de page
  • Logo INHA
  • Logo CNRS – Institut des sciences humaines et sociales
  • Logo In Visu
  • Logo DOAJ - Directory of Open Access Journals
  • OpenEdition Journals