Elected ARSA: 21 March 1923 

Elected RSA: 14 February 1934 

Born in Fife in 1883, Reginald Fairlie was educated at the Oratory School, Birmingham and later joined the office of Sir Robert Lorimer where he received his early training in architecture. After living in London, followed by extensive study abroad, particularly in Italy, he commenced practice in Edinburgh in 1909.


His work was interrupted by the 1914-1918 War when he served with the Royal Engineers. Resuming practice, Dr. Fairlie received numerous commissions for Church and Domestic designs and a number of War Memorials were carried out by him. His restoration of the little Norman church at Leuchars was masterly and his keen interest in St. Andrews was evident in his fine restoration of the ancient University Chapel.


Dr. Fairlie served for many years as an Academy representative on the Board of Management of the College of Art and anyone working with him on adjudications, whether on Architecture, Painting or Design, was deeply impressed with his unerring choice of the artist of the future.


It is tragic that Dr. Fairlie’s important commission, the National Library of Scotland, could not be completed in his life time. War held up all progress on this Library for nearly ten years and, as it sradually develops into what must be one of Edinburgh’s fine buildings, we feel that the problems of change of materials and change of methods should have been solved by his masterly hand.


Dr. Fairlie was a Member, and latterly Chairman, of the Ancient Monuments Advisory Board for Scotland, and a Member of the Royal Fine Arts Commission for Scotland, and a very helpful Member of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland.


He was also a Member of the Council for Art and Industry from 1934 till the beginning of the War. He was elected R.S.A. in 1934 and St. Andrews University conferred upon him the Degree of LL.D. A charming conversationalist, his tales of craftsmen, his knowledge of country matters, and in particular, his love of bird life, made Dr. Fairlie a companion much sought after by a wide circle of friends. He died on 27th October and was buried in the Ancient Priory of St. Andrews. Dr. Fairlie was unmarried.


Transcribed from the 1952 RSA Annual Report

Further Images

Reginald Fairlie RSA (1883-1952), St Andrews Church, Rothesay, Isle of Bute (x9 mounted photos)

Photograph, 1928, 99.6 x 80 cm

RSA Diploma Collection Deposit, 1993.111