Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Hunter McNab
Designation: Architect
Born: 1862
Died: December 1935
Bio Notes: William Hunter McNab was born in Stirling or Clackmannan (sources vary) on 8 January 1862, the son of James McNab, mercantile clerk and his wife Jane Hall Hunter of Clackmannan, educated at 'several schools in Stirling, finishing at [The] High School there'. In 1877 he was articled to John Allan of Stirling, a somewhat whimsical architect, but he attended classes held by Leonard Baker, who was 'connected with South Kensington Science and Art Department' and 'whose classes were unsurpassed by any similar classes in the country'. In 1881 he secured a place in the office of William Leiper, which enabled him to study at Glasgow School of Art. In 1883 Leiper put him in charge of his drawing office, although responsibility may in some degree have been shared when William James Anderson was in the office in 1889 to 1891 helping with the detailing of the Sun building. During this period he spent some time travelling in the British Isles and Ireland and also in France. He married Isabella Braid Christie Walls, daughter of builder John Walls, on 24 October 1890 at the Cockburn Hotel, Bath Street, Glasgow, and their first son, James (better known as Hamish), was born on 22 July 1891.

It is not entirely clear at what point Leiper took William Hunter McNab into partnership. His RIBA nomination paper states that he commenced practice in 1896 with additions to Glenfinnart House at Ardentinny, which he may have been allowed to undertake separately from the practice. 'Who's Who in Architecture 1914' gives 1899 as the date of commencement of practice, which is probably the date of the partnership agreement. Although not claimed as his own work in his nomination papers, Leiper's two large houses at Stirling probably came to the practice through McNab's connections there.

McNab was admitted FRIBA on 3 December 1906, his proposers being Leiper, John Keppie and John James Burnet. At that date he had travelled in France and Holland.

Leiper suffered a protracted illness and McNab gradually took over the business, becoming sole partner on Leiper's retirement in 1909. He retained Leiper's name in the practice title until at least 1919, but although McNab was a very able architect the firm had very little business after Leiper's death in 1916.

In 1911 McNab's son Hamish had joined the practice as an assistant, having served his apprenticeship in the office of James Miller and attended classes at Glasgow School of Architecture. He became chief draughtsman but his career was interrupted by war service with the Royal Engineers from 1915 to 1919, during which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He rejoined the firm at the cease of hostilities, and was taken into partnership in 1927, the practice title changing to William Hunter McNab & Son. He was elected LRIBA in mid-1933, his proposers being James Miller, John Keppie and John Watson. He was also a member of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

William Hunter McNab died in December 1935. Hamish continued the practice under the existing title; his brother William Leiper McNab (born 21 March 1900), who had studied at Glasgow School of Art in 1915-16 and 1917-18, also worked in the family firm but never became a partner. The practice had very little architectural business after 1930. The office at 121 West George Street was also the studio of Hamish's sculptress wife, Fiona, and they supported themselves mainly by making garden statuary, craftwork and decorative work.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 6196, North Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1883After 1886 
Item 2 of 67, Rupert Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1890 *  
Item 3 of 675, Victoria Street, Hillhead, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1891 *  
Item 4 of 6266, Byres Road, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate/businessBefore 1894After 1905 
Item 5 of 6121, West George Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1899After 1933 
Item 6 of 66, Drummond Gardens, Jordanhill, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1906After 1918 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 4John Allan18771881Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4William LeiperJuly 1881c. 1899Assistant 
Item 3 of 4Leiper & McNabc. 1899After 1919Partner 
Item 4 of 4W Hunter McNab & SonJanuary 19271935Partner 

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 2William Leiper McNabAfter 19141927(?)Assistant(?)Unclear how long he stayed in the firm
Item 2 of 2James McNab (or Hamish McNab)After 19151926Chief Draughtsman 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3(Sir) John James Burnet3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 2 of 3John Keppie3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3William Leiper3 December 1906for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 8George Boag Baird15 October 1930for Licentiateship
Item 2 of 8James Steel MaitlandLate 1931for Licentiateship
Item 3 of 8James Steel MaitlandEarly 1932for Fellowship
Item 4 of 8Larmont Douglas PenmanEarly 1929for Fellowship
Item 5 of 8John Stewart1931for Fellowship
Item 6 of 8John Mackie VentersLate 1920for Associateship
Item 7 of 8Henry Neil WhimsterMid 1920for Associateship
Item 8 of 8Thomas Peach Weir YoungMid 1921for Associateship

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 471896Glenfinart HouseArdentinny ArgyllScotlandAdditions
Item 2 of 471897Volunteer Headquarters and Drill HallYorkhill GlasgowScotlandExtensions and new building
Item 3 of 471898Red TowerHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 4 of 471899Ballimore, Otter FerryLoch Fyne ArgyllScotlandRemodelling; possibly also extension in 1914 (B of S attribution)
Item 5 of 471899Barnlongart, Ballimore EstateLoch Fyne ArgyllScotland 
Item 6 of 471900Ard ChoilleClynder DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 7 of 471900Ard LussHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 8 of 471900DeroranStirling StirlingshireScotlandAlso lodge at 16 Polmaise Road
Item 9 of 471900Glasgow Royal Infirmary  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - unplaced
Item 10 of 471900Glendaruel HouseKilmodan ArgyllScotland 
Item 11 of 47c. 1902St James's Church of ScotlandKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 12 of 471903Morar HouseHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandHouse, motor house and laundry
Item 13 of 471904Morar HouseHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandMotor house and laundry
Item 14 of 47c. 1904Commercial building, 153 St Vincent Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 15 of 471905Business Premises and House for William Chambers  GlasgowScotland 
Item 16 of 471905Premises, George Street and Argyll StreetOban ArgyllScotlandMajor rebuilding: conversion of old premises into shop and tenement 'in progress' in 1905 - carried out as joint architect with Leiper
Item 17 of 471906Morar HouseHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandGardener's cottage
Item 18 of 471906Rockbank, Three VillasHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 19 of 471906Victoria InfirmaryHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandGatehouse
Item 20 of 471907Morar HouseHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandAttic-level addition and billiard room
Item 21 of 471907UplandsBridge of Allan StirlingshireScotland 
Item 22 of 47c. 1907AverleyKelvinside GlasgowScotlandRedecoration, including panelling in drawing room, dining room and hall (carried out by Matthew Henderson of Glasgow) and furniture (made by Wylie & Lochhead)
Item 23 of 471908Ard LussHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandRear extension
Item 24 of 471908PolkemmetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 25 of 47c. 1909Rossdhu HouseLuss ArgyllScotlandInternal work and additions, dining room
Item 26 of 471910Beneffrey HousePollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 27 of 471911Tenement, West Princes Street and Sinclair StreetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 28 of 471912St Sophia's RC ChapelGlendaruel ArgyllScotland 
Item 29 of 471913GlenkinHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandExtension
Item 30 of 471913Rockbank, Three VillasHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandAddition of billiard room to Hilden, no 45 Charlotte Street
Item 31 of 471914BrantwoodHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandGarage
Item 32 of 47Before 1914Catholic Apostolic Church  GlasgowScotlandAddition of transepts and chancel
Item 33 of 47c. 1914CarrickardenBearsden GlasgowScotlandLibrary - converted from parlour
Item 34 of 47c. 1914NewsteadBearsden GlasgowScotland 
Item 35 of 47c. 1914RedlandsBearsden GlasgowScotland 
Item 36 of 471916Premises, George Street and Argyll StreetOban ArgyllScotlandInternal alterations
Item 37 of 471919WoodvilleHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 38 of 471920Tenement, West Princes Street and Sinclair StreetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandShop addition at Nos 8-12
Item 39 of 471922Dowanhill UF Church, war memorialDowanhill GlasgowScotlandDesign exhibited
Item 40 of 471922Pollokshields East Church, war memorialPollokshields GlasgowScotlandDesign exhibited
Item 41 of 471923RachanHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandVerandah addition
Item 42 of 471923Victoria InfirmaryHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandAdditions
Item 43 of 471925Premises, George Street and Argyll StreetOban ArgyllScotlandNew saloon
Item 44 of 471926RomanhurstHillfoot, Bearsden GlasgowScotlandDesign exhibited
Item 45 of 471929Netherlee UF Church Hall  GlasgowScotlandDesign exhibited
Item 46 of 471929St Wolstans ChurchWest Kilbride AyrshireScotland 
Item 47 of 471931Hillhead High School, War Memorial Gateway  GlasgowScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 4Post Office Directories     
Item 3 of 4RIBA1930The RIBA Kalendar 1930-1931 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 4 of 4Who's Who in Architecture1914    

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Builder20 December 1935v149 p1096 - obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from Alfred G Lochhead; additional information (re: family and addresses from research by Iain Paterson
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v 17 p140 no 1166 (microfilm reel 12)