Robert Morham

The grave of Robert Morham, Morningside Cemetery, Edinburgh

Robert Morham (31 March 1839 5 June 1912) was the City Architect for Edinburgh for the last decades of the nineteenth century and was responsible for much of the “public face” of the city at the time.

His work is particularly well represented within Edinburgh City Chambers where each of the high Victoriana main council chambers (Edinburgh Room, Nelson Mandela Room, European Room etc.) is under his hand.

Most of his buildings are utilitarian in function: police stations, fire stations, swimming baths etc. and these are generally atypical of the Edinburgh streetscape in terms of material being generally in red sandstone rather than cream. This allows the public buildings to quickly be identified in the streets concerned.

His work in parks is also noteworthy including one of the world's best known public spaces, Princes Street Gardens. This included negotiations for the widening of Princes Street and the placing of a great number of statues along the edge of the park facing that road.


He was the son of Robert Morham (1812-1889) Depute City Clerk, and his wife Janet Aird (1808-1883), who lived at 13 Lauder Road, which remained his home for all his life. To avoid confusion he styled himself Robert Morham Jr for much of his early life.

He was educated at Newington Academy and the Royal High School.

In 1854 he was articled to David Rhind and in 1859 transferred to David Bryce, both prominent architects of their day. In 1862 he moved to London to work for William Eden Nesfield. In 1866 he returned to Edinburgh and joined David Cousin, later becoming his business partner. His works until 1873 are under Cousin. From that date he became City Superintendent of Works (City Architect). That year he also married Anne Isabella Cunningham with whom he had five sons and one daughter.

In later years he employed James Anderson Williamson who succeeded him as City architect in 1908 having been Deputy since 1898.

Morham left almost £11,000 in his will. A huge sum for his day.

He is buried with his parents and wife, Ann Isabella Cunningham, in Morningside Cemetery, Edinburgh west of his family home. His brother George Morham (1846-1926), who became a civil engineer and probably aided Robert on several projects, is buried slightly to the south of his grave, as is his sister Margaret Ann Morham, who married the Edinburgh architect John McLachan and is back-to-back with Robert and her parents.

Several people trained or worked under him in his role, including Alexander Lorne Campbell.[1]

List of Works

The ornamental ironwork on North Bridge, Edinburgh, by Robert Morham
Fire Station on Lauriston Place
Edinburgh City Chambers showing the arcade added by Morham to the front

Most of Morham’s works constitute “public buildings” and mainly still survive, contributing greatly to the character of the city. All are in Edinburgh and almost all are listed buildings, exemplifying the quality of Morham’s works.


  2. Buildings of Scotland: Edinburgh by Gifford McWilliam and Walker
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