Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||James Boucher |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||24 August 1826 |
|Died: ||7 September 1906 |
|Bio Notes: ||James Boucher was born on 24 August 1826, the son of John Boucher, solicitor, London. He was very probably born in Cumbernauld where his grandfather, the Rev James Boucher, was minister. He was articled to Charles Wilson c.1842 and was an assistant there when he became acquainted with James Cousland (born 1853), who joined Wilson's office as an articled apprentice c.1848. |
On 20 April 1853 Boucher commenced a grand tour, travelling through Belgium and sailing up the Rhine through Germany. He then made his way to Switzerland, Italy and France which he reached by sailing from Naples to Marseilles. He returned on 16 December, sailing from Boulogne to Folkestone.
On his return Boucher commenced independent practice in partnership with Cousland. As early as 1855 or 1856 they built for themselves a pair of semidetached houses, Swiss Cottage at 35-37 St Andrew's Drive, Pollokshields, and in the same years Boucher and two friends undertook a walking tour through the High Alps to the Tyrol, an account of which was published in the Glasgow Herald. In September 1857 Boucher repeated the route of his 1853 tour in less than three weeks between the 4th and the 23rd. What he saw on those tours strongly influenced the practice's architecture for the next twenty years. Two years after his return he married 20-year-old Rebecca Laurie at Govan on 7 October 1859, and built for her a fine Italianate house, Swiss Villa, at Coulport adjacent to his client John Kibble's Coulport House. They had two daughters, Ella, born 8 December 1867, and Jane Laurie, born 26 April 1869. Later the Bouchers moved their Glasgow residence to Brandon Place, now 217 West George Street, where the Italian painter Enrico Patalano was a member of the household from c.1878 until 1881. There is no record of Cousland having travelled, although he probably did, but Boucher seems to have been the most travelled Scottish architect of his generation, in sheer extent approached only by John Dick Peddie and David MacGibbon.
The Boucher & Cousland practice was successful at once, designing the ambitious Gothic Renfield Free Church on Bath Street, a large block of warehouses and shops for Black at the corner of Gordon Street and Renfield Street in 1857-8, and a considerable number of very ambitious villas exhibited at the Royal Scottish Academy in 1860 and the Glasgow Institute in 1861. Within a year or two Walter Macfarlane of Saracen Iron Works became a client and in addition to the Macfarlane warehouse in Washington Street (1862) and the Saracen Ironworks at Possilpark (begun 1869), the practice made many designs for architectural castings. The Couslands had some sort of business connection with John Kibble whose father had a wire and metal warehouse at Turner's Court in Argyle Street. In the early 1860s Kibble built the large Italian Romanesque villa Coulport House adjacent to Boucher's Swiss Villa at Loch Long for which they designed the conservatory which in enlarged form became the Kibble Palace in the Botanic Gardens at Kelvinside: Cousland is said to have made a model in wire, to show Kibble what it would look like. In 1862-64 the partnership reached its zenith with the towered Romanesque Free Church at Kinning Park and their cruciform Renaissance Free St George's Church, but Cousland's career was to be brief: his health was upset by a fatal accident at the building of Free St George's and he died at Swiss Cottage on 12 June 1866, survived by his wife Jessie Knox Anderson.
Boucher was thereafter sole practitioner until 1875 when he took into partnership his pupil Henry Higgins (born 1848) who had been his assistant for two years, the style of the firm now becoming Boucher & Higgins. Higgins's son G H Higgins thereafter joined the practice, but seems to have died sometime after 1892 when he designed Temple Church at Anniesland.
Boucher died at Swiss Villa, Coulport on 7 September 1906 leaving the substantial movable estate of £8,916 5s 0d. He was survived by his widow. He was buried at Barbour Cemetery, Cove. Despite his large practice Boucher never sought election to the Royal Institute of British Architects. Photographs of him with mutton chop whiskers, and another of him bearded on a tricycle towing Mrs Boucher in a bath chair are in the possession of the Colvil family.
Higgins died on 9 June 1922, the practice being continued by Henry Edward Higgins (born 1878) who was articled to his father from 1901 to 1906, studied at Glasgow School of Art and remained with his father as assistant.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Swiss Cottage/ 35-37, St Andrews Drive, Pollokshields, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||c. 1857|| ||Also given as Cousland's private address|
|43, Bath Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1860||1862|| |
|Pollokshields, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||1862|| || |
|217, West George Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1876 *|| || |
|Swiss Villa, Coulport, Loch Long, Argyll, Scotland||Private||1888|| || |
|247, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1888|| || |
* 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):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|Henry Higgins||c. 1873||1875||Assistant|| |
|William Holmes Howie||1876||1881||Apprentice|| |
|John Andrew Reid||1887||1888||Apprentice|| |
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|APSD|| ||The Dictionary of Architecture||ed Wyatt Papworth||The Architectural Publication Society (8v 1852-1892)|| |
|Johnston, W T||2003||Artists of Scotland|| ||Officina Publications CDROM|| |
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Courtesy of Robert Colvil||Information sent via 'Contact Us' on website|| ||Sent December 2010|
|Professor David M Walker personal archive||Professor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material|| ||Letter from D M Colvil, grandson, to Iain Paterson, 12 December 1895. Personal information from the Cousland family to A G Lochhead.|