Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Brydon, John McKean

BRYDON, JOHN McKEAN (1840–1901), architect, born at Dunfermline in 1840, was son of John Brydon, tailor and draper of that place, by his wife, whose maiden surname was McKean. He was educated at the Commercial Academy in Dunfermline. After receiving his early architectural training in Liverpool from 1856 and studying in Italy, he served under David Bryce [q. v.] in Edinburgh. In 1866 he became managing assistant at Glasgow to Campbell Douglas and John James Stevenson [q. v. Suppl. II], and subsequently for two or three years worked in the London offices of William Eden Nesfield [q. v.] and Mr. Norman Shaw, R.A. After establishing with Wallace & Cottier, two fellow architects, a decorating and furnishing business in Langham Place, Brydon returned to architectural practice, and in 1883-4 was engaged in building St. Peter's Hospital, Henrietta Street, Covent Garden. In 1885 he won the competition for the Chelsea vestry hall and subsequently built (1889) the neighbouring free library and the South-West London Polytechnic. Brydon was frequently successful in competitions, securing in 1891 the commission to build the municipal buildings at Bath (opened 1895), an important engagement followed by the erection of the Technical Schools (1895-6), the Victoria Art Gallery and Library (opened 1901), and the pump room extensions, all in the same city. The last undertaking, obtained in competition (1894), involved the covering-in of the scholae of the Roman bath [see Davis, Charles Edward, Suppl. II]. In 1889 Brydon carried out the New Hospital for Women in the Euston Road, London, and in 1896 the London School of Medicine for Women in Handel Street, W.C. (1897-9). Other of his works were the village hall, Forest Row, Sussex (1892) (which after destruction by fire he rebuilt); the private residences, Lewins in Kent for Joseph Robinson, Bournemead at Bushey, and Pickhurst, Surrey; residential chambers for ladies in Chenies Street, W.C.; and for J. J. Tissot, the French artist, a studio and certain alterations at the Chateau de Buillon.

Brydon was selected in 1898 from a limited number of first-rate architects as the designer of the offices in Whitehall for the local government board and the education department. His style for domestic and hospital work had been generally of a Georgian type of English renaissance, but in the designs at Bath he had shown a command of orthodox classicism. Brydon, before designing the great buildings now entrusted to him, paid a special visit to Italy. His design was worthy of its important site and purpose, but he died before the work was finished, leaving the completion of the buildings in the hands of the office of works. He became a fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1881, a vice-president in 1899 and 1901, and served for several years on its council. Brydon died at his residence 31 Steele's Road, Havers tock Hill, on 25 May 1901, and was buried in Highgate Cemetery.

[Journal Royal Inst. of Brit. Architects, 3rd series, 1901, viii. 381, 400; Builder, 1901, lxxx. 340.]

P. W.