Webpage created: September 27, 2019
Webpage updated: January 04, 2020
HECTOR JOHN WATT STIRLING (1907-1970)
Hector John Watt Stirling was born on June 15th 1907 to Mr Peter Munnoch Stirling and to the former Miss Charlotte Monro Watt.
He was apprenticed between1922 and 1927 to Mr Alexander Gardner of Messrs Gardner and Gardner -McLean, of Glasgow. At the same time he attended courses on building, construction, design, mathematics, French and science at the Glasgow Athenaeum and Glasgow School of Art. Upon completing his apprenticeship he remained with the same firm. In 1935 he completed a senior certificate course at the Glasgow School of Art and the Royal Technical College. He left Glasgow in 1935 and got a post as assistant with the London County Council. Mr Stirling passed his final examination in London inJuly1936 and then moved to the City of Leicester, where he had obtained a position in the Council's Surveyor's Department. He was admitted as an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects on July 19th 1937.
By 1939 he had moved to Derbyshire County Council and later became the Deputy City Architect in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Mr Stirling was appointed City Architect at Plymouth City Council in 1950. The reconstruction of the City after the Blitz had already started but the City Centre was still largely flat. It needed buildings and it needed them quickly. Although he continued to carry out the principals of the "Plan for Plymouth", he stamped his own mark on the design of the buildings.
He was personally responsible for the layout of the area that included the Guildhall, the Civic Centre (it used to be called Stirling Castle!) and the proposed concert hall, restaurant and law courts that were to be on its western side. The law courts were eventually switched to a place nearer to the Guildhall and the concert hall took another thirty years to become the Theatre Royal.
The Pembroke Street housing scheme in Devonport won him the Grand Prix D'Honeur of the National Festival of Architecture and Monumental Art in Paris in 1956. In addition he was responsible for the restoration of the Central Library, the post-war housing estates and the "star" blocks of flats.
Mr Stirling had one curious distinction: he was a Freeman of the City of London. This came about because he was short-listed for the appointment as Architect to the City of London in 1955 but in order for him to be able to address the Common Council of the City he had to be a Freeman. Fortunately for Plymouth, he was not appointed but all the short-listed candidates were allowed to retain their unusual honour.
Hector Stirling retired in April 1970 and died on June 2nd 1970 at the age of 62 years. He was cremated at Efford Crematorium on June 5th 1970.
His widow, Mrs Dorothy Congden Stirling died on September 3rd 1976 and was also cremated at Efford Crematorium.