The forgotten polymath who helped shape Dumfries.
Walter Newall (1780-1863) was born in New Abbey and in his time he was a cabinetmaker, an engineer, and an architect: he has left his stamp on Dumfries and the surrounding area with a vast range of distinctive buildings – town and country houses, churches, manses, schools and farm steadings.
The extent of Newall's work has only become more widely known fairly recently, since a great number of his drawings and sketchbooks were discovered in Canada. These were put up for sale, and were acquired with private and public funds by the Dumfries Museum Service. This has allowed the certain attribution of many buildings to Newall, where previously this was unknown or just thought to be the case. Newall's archive is currently housed in the Archive Centre in Burns Street, Dumfries.
Other buildings by Walter Newall in Dumfries include the Observatory (which he converted from an old windmill), The Old Bank building, The Albert Club, his own offices on the corner of Bank Street and the High Street, and the 1830 Assembly Rooms on George Street, across the street from Moat Brae.
Newall retired from practice in 1861, and died at his home in New Abbey on Christmas Day, 1863. He is buried in St Michael’s kirkyard, Dumfries, where his grave is marked by a simple granite stone. There is no statue or monument to his memory.