Sir George Washington Browne was born in Glasgow on 21 September 1853, the son of an employee of Glasgow Corporation Gas Company. He was articled in 1869. In 1885, Browne opened his own office at 5 Queen Street, Edinburgh. Before the outbreak of World War One, he had already gained a reputation, following his 1887 competition winning design for Edinburgh Public Library, the Redfern building on Princes Street in 1891 and the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in 1892. This soon established him in independent practice and brought him election as an Associate of the Royal Scottish Academy.


However, the War years led to personal tragedy for Washington Browne with the loss of his three sons.


Second Lieutenant George Brownlie Browne, Black Watch (Royal Highlanders), was the second son of Sir George Washington Browne and Jessie Brownlie Browne, his first wife. He was educated at Viewpark Preparatory School, and Merchiston Castle School, Edinburgh, where he was a member of the Cadet Corps, and broke the school record in the cross-country race. After leaving school, he went to Ceylon for tea and rubber planting, and later to Southern India, returning to Scotland in 1915. Gazetted Second Lieutenant, 10th Black Watch, on 7 May 1915, he went to France in December 1915, attached to the 9th Battalion, and was killed in action on 7 February 1916, age 23, in the trenches near Loos. His Commanding Officer, Lieutenant Colonel John Stewart, wrote:


Your boy was absolutely devoid of fear. He took part in a most successful bombing attack on 25 January, and in my report on the matter I specially men­tioned your son's name, and I think that he would in all probability have been mentioned in Despatches for his gallant conduct on that occasion.


Private Hew Edwards Browne, Royal Scots, was the youngest son. He was educated at Merchiston Castle Preparatory School, privately, and George Heriot’s School, Edinburgh, and was a Pupil Photographer before the war. Volun­teering and enlisting in the Royal Scots in October 1914, he went to France in February 1916, and was killed in action between La Bolselle and Contal­maison on 1 July 1916, age 21, the first day of the Somme battles.


Leslie Aitchison Browne, the eldest son, graduated BSc, University of Edinburgh, was attached to Princess Patricia’s Canadian Light Infantry in France during the War and was severely wounded in 1916. He worked as a Research Chemist after the War and died at Peebles on 1 September 1922, age 32. The cause of his death was pulmonary tuberculosis, officially recognised by the Canadian Government as the result of his wartime service.


This left the only surviving children as sisters Christina, Jessie and Margaret, the only child of Sir George’s second marriage to Louisa Emma Adams.


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