Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Atkinson Railton
Designation: Architect
Born: 20 November 1820
Died: 16 September 1902
Bio Notes: William Atkinson Railton was born on 20 November 1820 in the Gorbals in Glasgow, the son of John Railton, law agent and his wife Margaret Thomson. His relationship, if any, with William Railton (c.1801-77) of London is not known, and there is no record of his professional training. He would appear to have been both an architect and a civil engineer. He commenced practice in Kilmarnock in 1847, secured the commission for the cubical neo-classical sheriff court there from the Commissioners of Supply in 1852, and quickly became prominent in public life either as director or secretary of several Kilmarnock institutions. It was presumably through these connections that he superseded Black & Salmon as architect to the Union Bank, apparently in 1852 when he obtained the commission for the large bank house at Kilmarnock, and by the 1860s he had also become architect to the Clydesdale Bank for its provincial branch offices. His buildings for the Union Bank are mostly in a fairly consistent Italianate house style, usually with rusticated doorpieces and pilastered bipartite windows, although some of the later and smaller branches are Gothic. Those for the Clydesdale, which have still to be fully identified, tend to be plain Jacobean. The largest and best of these buildings were the large Union Bank palazzi at Dundee (1866) and Dumfries (1875), in a very competent Free Renaissance; but some of his other buildings, most notably the large Fever Hospital (later the Infirmary) at Kilmarnock, are Thomsonesque. His drawings tend to be on a thin yellow paper and tinted in a strong red, probably to facilitate tracing.

Railton appears to have been a significant antiquary. Quite early in his career he made record plans of Irvine Town House before it was demolished in 1860. He was of considerable assistance to MacGibbon & Ross, measuring and sketching Auchenharvie, Busbie, Clonbeith, Craigie and Stair Castles in Ayrshire; Kildonan Castle on Bute; Cathcart Castle in Renfrewshire; and Kerelaw Doocot. From at least 1858 until at least 1875 Railton acted as architect to the Scottish estates for the Trustees of the 3rd Marquess of Bute.

Railton's office was at 1 St Marnock's Place, Kilmarnock in 1868. By the 1880s his son John Joseph Railton was in the business and MacGibbon & Ross refer to the practice as 'The Messrs Railton'. William was still in practice at the age of 78 in 1898, when he was in partnership with John Joseph Railton, CE but by that date the Union Bank and the Clydesdale Bank connections had been lost to John Burnet & Son and to Baird & Thomson respectively.

Railton died on 16 September 1902 aged 81 when he was described as an architect and civil engineer. His wife Isabella had predeceased him but he was survived by one son and several daughters.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 11, St Marnock's Place, Kilmarnock, Ayrshire, ScotlandBusiness1868 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3Gabriel Andrewc. 1866(?)Before 1875Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3William NewlandsJanuary 1869March 1873Apprentice 
Item 3 of 3John Joseph Railton1880s(?) Architect 

Buildings and Designs

This architect was involved with the following buildings or structures from the date specified (click on an item to view details):
 Date startedBuilding nameTown, district or villageIslandCity or countyCountryNotes
Item 1 of 85 Caprington  AyrshireScotlandUnspecified work - perhaps only survey; date not unkown
Item 2 of 85 King's Arms HotelGirvan AyrshireScotlandDrawings undated and unsigned
Item 3 of 85 Loudoun CastleGalston AyrshireScotlandUnspecified work - perhaps only survey; date not unkown
Item 4 of 85 Perth BankBlairgowrie PerthshireScotlandUndated survey of building (now named Union Bank after 1858 takeover), evidently for minor alterations
Item 5 of 85 Post OfficeKilmarnock AyrshireScotlandDates unknown
Item 6 of 85 Town Chamberlain's OfficeKilmarnock AyrshireScotlandDates unknown
Item 7 of 85 Union BankAlloa ClackmannanshireScotlandUndated survey for minor alterations
Item 8 of 85 Union BankGirvan AyrshireScotlandDates not known; drawings unsigned
Item 9 of 85 Union BankInnerleithen PeeblesshireScotlandUndated survey for minor alterations
Item 10 of 85 Union BankCoupar Angus AngusScotlandUndated survey for minor alterations (Railton was architect to Union Bank from 1853 to c.1889)
Item 11 of 85 Union Bank of ScotlandPerth PerthshireScotlandUndated survey for minor alterations to Heiton's building
Item 12 of 85c. 1850Pair of villas, 36 and 38 London RoadKilmarnock AyrshireScotlandPerhaps earlier?
Item 13 of 851852Kilmarnock Sheriff CourtKilmarnock AyrshireScotland 
Item 14 of 851853Union BankKilmarnock AyrshireScotland'Buildings of Scotland' gives dates as 'c. 1850'
Item 15 of 85c. 1855Union BankGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandOriginal building, and subsequent new doorpiece and alterations
Item 16 of 851856Cunninghame Combination PoorhouseIrvine AyrshireScotland 
Item 17 of 851856Free churchCrookedholm AyrshireScotland 
Item 18 of 851856Skelmorlie CastleSkelmorlie AyrshireScotlandAlterations and additions, monogrammed 'W R Architect', including S wing
Item 19 of 851856Union BankDalbeattie KirkcudbrightshireScotlandOriginal building and subsequent alterations
Item 20 of 851856Union Bank  GlasgowScotlandAltered to form bank from earlier building
Item 21 of 851857Eglinton Castle and Tournament Bridge  AyrshireScotlandAlterations and additions, including 2-storey W wing
Item 22 of 851857Union BankTradeston GlasgowScotlandRemodelled: new rusticated ground floor, interior recast
Item 23 of 8520 April 1857Union BankGovan GlasgowScotlandDrawings dated
Item 24 of 8521 October 1857Union BankBathgate West LothianScotlandAdditions - drawings dated but unsigned
Item 25 of 851858Dumfries House, Gardeners House  AyrshireScotlandReconstruction with additional floor
Item 26 of 851858Town HallArdrossan AyrshireScotland 
Item 27 of 8523 July 1858Union BankAnderston GlasgowScotlandAlteration drawings dated; unsigned but draughtsmanship and paper are characteristic of Railton
Item 28 of 851859Union BankStewarton AyrshireScotlandOriginal building, and subsequent addition at rear
Item 29 of 851860sDumfries HouseCumnock (near) AyrshireScotlandWest wing, Turkish bath
Item 30 of 851860Union BankDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandAddition and new building
Item 31 of 85c. 1860Bank HousePeebles PeeblesshireScotlandComplete remodelling, for Union Bank
Item 32 of 851862Sorn CastleMauchline AyrshireScotlandUnexecuted scheme for alterations
Item 33 of 851863Mair's Free SchoolDarvel AyrshireScotland 
Item 34 of 8517 May 1863Union BankKirriemuir AngusScotlandDrawings for addition of telling room
Item 35 of 851864Ayrshire Lunatic AsylumAyr AyrshireScotlandWon competition but Charles Edward received commission
Item 36 of 851864Dreghorn Parish ChurchDreghorn AyrshiereScotlandAlterations including pulpit
Item 37 of 851864Fenwick Parish ChurchFenwick AyrshireScotlandBellcote added
Item 38 of 851864John Finnie StreetKilmarnock AyrshireScotlandMasterplanning and construction, with Robert Blackwood, Surveyor
Item 39 of 851864Kilmarnock Sheriff CourtKilmarnock AyrshireScotlandInternal alterations
Item 40 of 851864Union BankBrechin AngusScotlandNew building and subsequent alterations
Item 41 of 851864Union BankAuchterarder PerthshireScotlandOriginal building and subsequent alterations
Item 42 of 851864Union BankPort Glasgow RenfrewshireScotlandClassical remodelling of existing bank
Item 43 of 851865Union BankPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandLarge 3-storey addition with shops
Item 44 of 851866Cathcart Castle  RenfrewshireScotlandProposed restoration (unexecuted)
Item 45 of 851866Clydesdale BankDenny StirlingshireScotland 
Item 46 of 851866Commercial Chambers, 2, 4, 6 Panmure Street  DundeeScotlandPlans dated - original building
Item 47 of 851867Dumfries House, Mains Farm  AyrshireScotlandNew hayloft, barn and bothy at west range
Item 48 of 851867Kilmarnock Infirmary and Fever Hospital, Mount PleasantKilmarnock AyrshireScotlandOriginal building and subsequent enlargements
Item 49 of 851867Ochiltree House  AyrshireScotlandRepair and restoration
Item 50 of 851868Clydesdale BankLochgilphead ArgyllScotland 
Item 51 of 851868Dumfries HouseCumnock (near) AyrshireScotlandMain block, redecoration of entrance hall and north parlour. Carried out by Campbell & Smith.
Item 52 of 851868Dumfries House, walled garden  AyrshireScotlandPeach house added, also perhaps balustraded terrace at this date added
Item 53 of 851868High ChurchKilmarnock AyrshireScotlandAdditions and alterations
Item 54 of 8518 May 1868Union BankForfar AngusScotlandDrawings dated
Item 55 of 851870Union BankDunblane PerthshireScotlandAdded telling wing to late Georgian bank house
Item 56 of 851870Union Bank of ScotlandAirdrie LanarkshireScotland 
Item 57 of 851871Commercial Chambers, 2, 4, 6 Panmure Street  DundeeScotlandFurther work
Item 58 of 851873Sorn Primary SchoolSorn AyrshireScotlandS wing added
Item 59 of 851873Union BankDoune PerthshireScotland 
Item 60 of 851873Union BankMaybole AyrshireScotlandDrawings for minor alterations dated
Item 61 of 851874Dumfries House, Cumnock Gate lodge and gates  AyrshireScotlandGreen gives architect as Railton.
Item 62 of 851874SchoolhouseDreghorn AyrshireScotland 
Item 63 of 851874Villas, Nurseryhall Terrace, including Piersland at no 56Kilmarnock AyrshireScotlandPerhaps by Railton
Item 64 of 851875Dreghorn Parish ChurchDreghorn AyrshiereScotlandAlterations
Item 65 of 851875Union BankDumfries DumfriesshireScotland 
Item 66 of 851875Union Bank, DalryNew Galloway KirkcudbrightshireScotland 
Item 67 of 85c. 1875Galston School, Infant DepartmentGalston AyrshireScotland 
Item 68 of 85c. 1875Pair of villas, London RoadKilmarnock AyrshireScotland'Possibly' (HS)
Item 69 of 851876Bowmore SchoolBowmoreIslayArgyllScotlandDates not known
Item 70 of 851876Grange PlaceKilmarnock AyrshireScotlandLayout
Item 71 of 851876Kilmarnock AcademyKilmarnock AyrshireScotland 
Item 72 of 851876Mission HallsDalry AyrshireScotland 
Item 73 of 851877Trinity ChurchDalry AyrshireScotlandPlatform added
Item 74 of 851878Fergushill ChurchBenslie, Kilwinning AyrshireScotland 
Item 75 of 851878Portnahaven SchoolPortnahavenIslayArgyllScotland 
Item 76 of 85187972-84 John Finnie StreetKilmarnock AyrshireScotland 
Item 77 of 8530 March 1879Union BankLochgilphead ArgyllScotlandDrawings for addition of telling room
Item 78 of 851880Peden's BuildingsKilmarnock AyrshireScotland'Possibly' (HS)
Item 79 of 851881Union BankStirling StirlingshireScotlandInternal alterations to Black & Salmon building
Item 80 of 851884Beith Parish ChurchBeith AyrshireScotlandRestoration including blind quatrefoil in gable
Item 81 of 858 February 1886Union BankPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandDrawings for alterations dated
Item 82 of 851889Kilchoman Parish ChurchKilchomanIslayArgyllScotlandAdded pulpit to existing church
Item 83 of 85Before 1890Cessnock Castle  AyrshireScotlandAlterations
Item 84 of 851899Old High Parish Church HallsKilmarnock AyrshireScotland 
Item 85 of 85c. 1975Galston Primary SchoolGalston AyrshireScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Close, Robert1992Ayrshire and Arran, an Illustrated Architectural Guide Edinburgh: RIASp108
Item 2 of 3Colvin, H M1954A biographical dictionary of English architects 1660-18401st edition  
Item 3 of 3Green, Simon2014Dumfries House: an architectural story Edinburgh: RCAHMSpp166-181

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1H M Register HouseDeath Register