William Weir was born in Edinburgh in 1865. He left school at 16 to work as a paying pupil in Glasgow with the architect Archibald MacPherson. This gave Weir a good background in church buildings as MacPherson was predominantly an ecclesiastical architect. After two years, Weir moved to London to work for Leonard Stokes, again as a paying pupil. It was while working for Stokes that Weir met Charles Winmill and the two became lifelong friends often holidaying together and touring the country on their high bicycles. Weir stayed with Stokes for six years before starting work for Philip Webb, co-founder of the SPAB, in 1889. And this time Weir was earning a small salary.
The eight years Weir spent working for Webb rooted in him more firmly in the idea of repair rather than restoration, and it was now that Weir started to regularly carry out work for the Society, although he would not become a Committee member until 1902.
Weir worked for J T Micklethwaite, who was Surveyor to the Fabric of Westminster Abbey, for one year before setting up his own practice.
Image: William Weir by his "high bicycle", photograph from "William Weir and Dartington Hall" by Reginald Snell (1986)