The eldest of the three Reid brothers who all practised as architects in South Africa, Arthur Henry Reid was born in Plymouth, England, where his father, William Henry REID, had an architectural practice. AH served articles with his father, after which he went as an assistant to Sydney LR Templar, architect and civil engineer, in Teignmouth (1876); he was associated as a pupil 'with the scheme of education initiated by the late Mr Arthur Cates' (ARIBA nom papers 1880), his godfather. Reid worked in London for JT Chappel, a building contractor, where he learnt the practical side of the profession. During this period he also attended a science course at King's College, London. In 1877 the family emigrated to South Africa and settled in Cape Town. AH joined the city engineer's and surveyor's department as a chief draughtsman and became assistant town engineer under (?) Tennant in 1878. According to Reid's obituary in the Architect, Builder & Engineer he left this position after two years to act as assistant to EBJ KNOX before being appointed assistant city surveyor in Cape Town. Radford, (1979) notes that Reid went to Grahamstown in 1879 as city engineer, carrying out municipal works in the city including the Grey Reservoir. In Grahamstown he applied for Associate membership of the RIBA in in 1880, Knox acting as a witness. Reid supervised the erection of the Town Hall in Grahamstown and the tower of the cathedral there. He retired from the public service in 1882 and went into private practice in Port Elizabeth in the same year, remaining for five years. During this period one of his main clients was the Dutch Reformed Church in the Cape.
According to the Anglo-African Who's Who (1907) Reid arrived in Johannesburg in 1886, the year it was founded. Other sources give the date of his arrival there as 1887/8, and he was reputedly the first architect on the Rand and his wife gave an account of the difficult journey and living conditions in early Johannesburg to the South African Lady's Pictorial (Feb 1914:49-50). About this time (1888) AH Reid collaborated, apparently for the first and last time, with his brother HA REID (cf REID, AH & HA).
RL McCOWAT joined Reid in partnership 1888/9 (or association, cf REID & McCOWAT), responsible for some of the important early buildings in Johannesburg such as the second Rand Club building (1889). The partnership between Reid and McCowat appears to have lasted until 1895/6. Reid's subsequent practice was vigorous and he himself was an active and prominent member of the profession in the Transvaal, several times acting assessor in architectural competitions and one-time President of the Engineers' and Architects' Association of South Africa 1893-4.
His health began to suffer in 1894 and in 1895 he joined ACB WILLIAMS in partnership (cf REID & WILLIAMS) in Johannesburg which ended with Williams's death in 1897.
This event, together with Reid's declining health, prompted him to invite his younger brother Walter REID, then in Cape Town, into partnership in 1897 (cf. REID, AH & W). He left for Cape Town the same year, leaving Walter in charge of the Johannesburg office while AH opened an office in Cape Town. In 1898/9 Reid was a founder member of the South African Society of Architects which in 1902 became the Cape Institute of Architects, of which he was also a founder member. He was elected a member of the City Council of Cape Town in 1901 and later ran unsuccessfully for Mayor. Apart from a season in 1900 which AH apparently spent in Port Elizabeth during the Anglo-Boer War, and a brief spell or two in London, (1904-5, 1906 and 1907), he remained in Cape Town for rest of his career.
In 1903 AH & W Reid opened an office in Oudtshoorn which was managed by DA McCUBBIN and later by T HITCHIN. In January 1905 HS EAST was invited into partnership in Cape Town (cf REID & EAST), AH being general manager and supervising partner in this partnership. In 1906 AH attended the 7th International Congress of Architects in London; he also went to London late 1907, returning to South Africa in 1908.
Reid was appointed honorary secretary of the Cape Institute of Architects in 1910 and was elected president of this Institute in 1911 and again in 1920. A later president of the Institute, FK KENDALL, referred to Reid's 'decisive personality' bringing new life to the position (AB&E Jun 1931:11), crediting Reid with bringing about affiliation with the RIBA 'through personal contact and his trip to England in November 1907,' Reid was the first Overseas honorary secretary of the RIBA for South Africa, a post he held until his death. He was a member of the committee for architects' registration, retiring from that controversial post in 1918.
Reid is described in his obituary as 'standing well over 6' tall ... of apparent perfect physical condition, of jaunty and debonair carriage and extremely distingue appearance.' There appears to have been no love lost between himself and William BLACK, an equally assertive colleague in Cape Town, who referred to Reid (in a note to JS CLELAND in 1920) as 'the old clown' in relation to Reid's RIBA appointment as Honorary Secretary (Cleland papers).
Reid was a founder member in 1884 of the Engineers' and Architects' Association of South Africa; he was a freemason, active in Grahamstown, Port Elizabeth and later in Johannesburg where he established the first British Lodge in Johannesburg.
He died at his home at Kenilworth in Cape Town and was buried at Plumstead cemetery. The last work with which Reid was associated was the Cavalry War Memorial at St Saviour's Church, Claremont, according to the Architect, Builder & Engineer (Mar 1923:4).
Life member of Soc of Arts (Lon); Fellow British Association for the Advancement of Science; one-time President of the Association for the Prevention of Consumption; President of the South African Institute of Valuers. ARIBA, Grahamstown 1881; FRIBA 1889; FRSI; North of England Inst of Mining & Mechanical Engineers; MSASA; FSA. (AB&E Jun 1920:11, 13, 15; AB&E Sep 1920:17 port; AB&E Feb 1922:5, 7, 9; AB&E Nov 1922:1-5 obit; AB&E Mar 1923:4; Afr Archt May 1912:218-21; Brown 1969; Building Dec 1922:98 obit; Frescura 1988; FRIBA nom papers (1889); Johnson 1979; Kesting 1978; Men Tvl 1905:315; Picton-Seymour 1977; Radford 1979; RIBA Jnl 1922-3:25, 64, 119, 364 obit; RIBA Kal 1886/87, 1890/91; SAA&B Mar 1905:120-1 'Contemporary architects'; SA Lady's Pic Feb 1914: 49-50; SAWW 1908, 1910, 1920-21)
Publ: Johannesburg Hospital, SAAE&A, proceedings (1) 1882-4:26-36; History and civilisation as evidenced in art and architecture, SAAE&A, proceedings (3) 1895-7: 8-16; Architecture in South Africa, RIBA Jnl 1898-99:363-71; Architecture of the past in South Africa, Arch Rev vol 8, 1900:147-52, 220-25; The sanitation of buildings and building areas,
(2 pts): SA Clywrkr & Bldr Nov 1903:21-3; Dec 1903:37-39; Allied Societies: Cape Institute of Architects, RIBA Jnl 26 Nov 1910:64-5; Cape Institute of Architects: retrospect of the profession, 1884-1911, Afr Archt Jul 1911:33-5; Municipal art societies, town planning conference, (2 pts) Afr Archt Jun 1911:11-14, Jul 1911:42-44; South African Institute of Valuers. The past year reviewed: presidential address, Afr Archt Jan 1913:116-18; James TOOGOOD, obit Jnl ATA Feb 1916:7; FRE SLADDIN, obit RIBA Jnl 1914-15:215; Domestic architecture in South Africa, The Studio yearbook of decorative art 1916:105-8; Odes & Idylls, 1918, publ privately by AH Reid, see A&B Apr 1918:278; Views on labour conditions in Britain - on return from a visit overseas, AB&E Feb 1922:5, 7, 9
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.