Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Abercrombie & Maitland |
|Designation: ||Architectural practice |
|Started: ||1923 |
|Ended: ||1963 |
|Bio Notes: ||Thomas Graham Abercrombie was born in Paisley, the son of a well-connected banker, William Abercrombie, who was of the family of Abercrombie of Tullibody, Clackmannan and his wife Robina Andrews Graham. He was articled to John Hutchison of Glasgow, an architect with Paisley connections, in 1876 and at the end of the apprenticeship he emigrated to the USA, location not known. By 19 May 1886 he had returned to Paisley and set up practice with £19 10s advanced by his father. The first year he is said to have had little or no work but in 1887 he took on an assistant, his brother-in-law Robert S Symington who became a partner in 1888. In that year the practice won a competition for Greenlaw Church, Paisley, but in July the following year Symington emigrated to the USA as manager of Clark's Thread Mills at Newark. The Greenlaw church design was modelled on Burnet's Barony Church and in or about 1890 Abercrombie took on as his chief assistant William Kerr (1866-1940) from the office of Burnet Son and Campbell, the work of the practice taking on a still more Burnetian character with the Clark Memorial Church, Largs (1892) which in several respects derives from Burnet's competition design for the Coats Memorial Church in Paisley. |
Kerr was not invited to become a partner in the practice and in 1902 he left to become a partner in the practice of John Melvin and Son at Alloa. Thereafter Abercrombie continued with well-selected assistants until 1921 when he took into partnership James Steel Maitland. Maitland had been born at Strone, Argyllshire, on 27 August 1887, of a well-connected family: his mother Kate Coats Steel being an adopted sister of the thread magnate George H Coats, and his father James Maitland was a master grocer with a substantial business. He had been educated at Kilblain Academy in Greenock and at Glasgow High School, and had hoped to become an artist but parental disapproval had resulted in his being articled to William Leiper in 1903. During his time at Leiper's, Maitland had attended Glasgow School of Art, from 1904 under Eugène Bourdon. At the School, then in Rose Street, his particular friends had been Andrew Noble Prentice and the sculptor Albert Hodge, but the latter moved to London c.1903. At the end of his apprenticeship in 1909 Maitland had gone to London to see John James Burnet in the hope of employment on the British Museum but Burnet already had a full staff and could only agree to take him on as an unpaid assistant for two years. In the event Maitland found employment instead in the office of Brown & Vallance in Montreal, on Leiper's recommendation. In 1913, whilst still in the employment of Brown & Vallence, he had travelled in France and in 1914 had married the embroider Ellison J F Young. He had served in the British Royal Naval Air Service during the First World War, following which, early in 1920, he had joined Abercrombie's office in Paisley as principal assistant.
The partnership proved brief as Abercrombie died suddenly at his home, Redholme, Castlehead, on 16 February 1926, Maitland continuing the practice alone thereafter under the existing name of Abercrombie & Maitland. Another James Maitland (born 1906), presumably a relative, joined the practice as an apprentice in September 1921, remaining as assistant until April 1927 when he moved to the firm of Cullen, Lochhead & Brown for a brief period before settling in the office of James Taylor. The younger Maitland had no further connections with the Abercrombie & Maitland practice thereafter, and remained with Taylor until the Second World War, following which he commenced practice on his own account in London.
James Steel Maitland was admitted LRIBA in late 1931 and FRIBA in early 1932, his proposers on both occasions being McNab, George Arthur Boswell and John Keppie. He became the burgh architect of Renfrew in the early 1930s.
Maitland was a painter, wood-carver, theatrical scene painter and costume designer as well as architect and among his many interests he was President of the Paisley Burns, Rotary and Bohemian Clubs, and in his later years became committed to the conservation of Paisley, leading the unsuccessful campaign to save New Street.
Maitland gradually wound down the practice in the early 1960s and closed it in 1963. It was then still based in Abercrombie's office at County Place. He died at the house he had designed for himself, Littlecroft, 21 Stonefield Avenue Paisley on 27 February 1892. His wife having predeceased him in 1949, he was cared for in his last years by his daughter Helen.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|1, County Place, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||Business||1923||1963|| |
|Gilmour Street, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||Business||1934|| ||Is this the same address as County Place?|
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
Buildings and Designs
|The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||13 July 1951|| || ||p69|