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McCUBBIN, David Aitken

Born: 1870 01 22
Died: 1948 08 07


LRIBA 1912; FRIBA 1927; past Pres ATA 1917; Mem SAIQS; past Pres SAIQS

Played a significant but as yet unexplored role in the architectural department of the SOUTH AFRICAN RAILWAYS AND HARBOURS in Johannesburg where he was the chief architect from 1910 to about 1929. Born in Bootle, Lancs, England, he was educated at private schools and Liverpool College. He was then articled (1886-91) to J H Havelock Sutton, Liverpool and received certificates for Building Construction examinations from the Liverpool School of Science. On completion of articles he became an architectural draughtsman, Royal Engineers Civil Staff, Barrack Construction, Dublin from 1891 to 1893. He received railway experience during a short one and a half month period with the Cheshire Lines Railway Co in 1893. He then worked for over a year with Park & Sons, Preston and briefly with Maxwell & Tuke, Manchester, before setting up on his own account in Manchester. He was engaged in competition work. In 1896 he left for South Africa, employed as an architectural assistant on the temporary civil engineer's staff attached to the ROYAL ENGINEERS in Cape Town. He became an assistant surveyor in the service on the outbreak of the Anglo-Boer War in 1899. He then worked as a quantity surveyor on the staff until 1902, when he resigned to take up a position as managing assistant to AH REID & W REID (cf REID, AH & W) of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Oudtshoorn. He was manager at Cape Town and at Oudtshoorn before moving to Johannesburg for the firm in 1903. In his papers for Fellowship of the RIBA in 1927 McCubbin listed the following buildings executed while with AH & W Reid: the Mutual Bank Buildings and the Mosley Buildings, Johannesburg; Germiston Town Hall, the Nederduits Gereformeerde Kerk at Molteno in the Cape; Standard Bank, Oudtshoorn, Cape.

In 1906 he left to join the Central South African Railways as a quantity surveyor under Thomas MOODIE who was the architect for the Central South African Railways and Harbours (CSAR&H). In about 1908 McCubbin was appointed principal architectural assistant and in 1910 was appointed to the post of architect of the Central South African Railways and Harbours Board in Johannesburg.

As railway architect McCubbin was responsible for the design of a number of railway stations throughout the Union as well as various railway institutes and garden villages for railway employees, among these being works at Colenso, Ladysmith and Vryheid in Natal. He designed many of the larger station buildings such as those at Germiston, Braamfontein, Potchefstroom and Benoni in the Transvaal, Stellenbosch, Malmesbury, and Muizenberg in the Cape and Kroonstad and Bethlehem in the Orange Free State. He also designed the Railway Institutes in Pietermaritzburg, Durban (sports), Germiston, Johannesburg and Klerksdorp; he was responsible for a number of South African Railways war memorials but is probably best-known for being appointed coarchitect of Johannesburg Railway Station (1926) in association with Gordon LEITH and Gerard MOERDYK, who were joint architects. Drawings of the Station were exhibited at the 1927 South African Academy Exhibition under the joint authorship of McCubbin, Leith & Moerdyk. On retiring from the railway service in 1929 he entered private practice in Johannesburg. He married in 1897; his son, an aviator of fame 'brought down the famous German airman Immelman' (Jnl ATA Mar 1917:16).

(Jnl ATA Mar 1917:16, 57; LRIBA nom papers (1912) 2015; FRIBA nom papers (1927) 2542; SAAR Dec 1948:340 obit; SAR&H Mag Oct 1929:1603; UTD 1915)

Publ: Jnl ATA Dec 1916:44; Layout of University site, Milner Park, Johannesburg. corres; Building Jun 1919:262-63, assessor's report.

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.

Books citing McCUBBIN

Brown, SM. 1969. Architects and others: an annotated list of people of South African interest appearing in the RIBA Journal 1880 1925. Johannesburg: Unpublished dissertation, University of the Witwatersrand. pp

Fisher, RC, Le Roux, SW. 1998. Architecture of the Transvaal. Pretoria: UNISA. pp 82, 86, 87

Chapters in books citing McCUBBIN

Keath, Michael. The Baker School: A Continuing Tradition 1902-1940: in 1998. Architecture of the Transvaal: pp 79