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Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Balfour Symington Abercrombie (or Balfour Abercrombie)
Designation: Architect
Born: 17 June 1879
Died: 31 July 1916
Bio Notes: Balfour Abercrombie was born John Balfour Symington Abercrombie on 17 June 1879 at Nether Calside, Paisley, son of William Abercrombie, soap manufacturer and Eliza Janes Symington and educated at Paisley Grammar School and Rottenburn Boarding School, Largs. He spent a year as an apprentice to a joiner. Thereafter he attended Glasgow School of Art from September 1898 prior to being articled to James Miller from 1 June 1899 until 1904, and remained with Miller for two years as an assistant. He continued his studies at Glasgow School of Art until as late as April 1905 (or 1903 according to Iain Paterson), perhaps if this date is accurate because of the arrival of Eugène Bourdon; and travelled in Germany, Austria and France. He commenced practice on his own account in November 1906, and was admitted LRIBA on 4 July 1910, his proposers being Alexander McGibbon, David Bateman Hutton and James Miller. Like Thomas Graham Abercrombie, who was a relative, he had Coats family connections. He died of war wounds on 31 July 1916.

He designed numerous villas in his short career in Paisley, Troon, Wemyss Bay etc, a church in Renfrew, a model farm in Kilmacolm and an extension to Brockwood Park, Hampshire. By arrangement with his clients he cancelled his engagements in October 1915 and joined up with the Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders as a private. When a draft to the Black Watch was proceeding to the Front in France, he volunteered for immediate active service and was accepted. After ten days in the trenches he took part in an attack and on returning to his billet some six miles from the Front, he was wounded with three of his comrades by a shell which burst overhead. He died from his injuries that evening.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2Craigmuir, Paisley, Renfrewshire, ScotlandPrivate1910 *  
Item 2 of 2131, West Regent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1910 *1914 

* 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 2James Miller6 January 18991904ApprenticeArticled to James Miller, 1899-1904 and remained as assistant 1904-1906.
Item 2 of 2James Miller19041906Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3David Bateman Hutton4 July 1910for Licentiateship
Item 2 of 3Alexander McGibbon4 July 1910for Licentiateship
Item 3 of 3James Miller4 July 1910for Licentiateship

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 10 Brockwood Park  HampshireEnglandAlterations and additions
Item 2 of 10 Gleniffer LodgePaisley RenfrewshireScotlandAlterations and additions - date unknown
Item 3 of 10 Model farm and dairyKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 4 of 10 Moorpark UF ChurchRenfrew RenfrewshireScotlandDate unknown
Item 5 of 10 St EvoxTroon AyrshireScotlandAlterations and additions - date unknown
Item 6 of 10After 1906Kelly HouseWemyss Bay RenfrewshireScotlandAlterations to Leiper house
Item 7 of 101908LandaleTroon AyrshireScotland 
Item 8 of 101908Sundrum CastleSundrum AyrshireScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 9 of 101912Chapel HousePaisley RenfrewshireScotlandAlterations and additions.
Item 10 of 101917Sundrum CastleSundrum AyrshireScotlandAlterations and additions


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 1Who's Who in Architecture1914   List of works

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Journal30 September 1916 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary p326 (portrait p325)

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 Information about parents from Iain Paterson
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v1 no 68 (microfilm reel 29)


© All rights reserved. ©Trustees of the National Library of Scotland 

© All rights reserved. ©Trustees of the National Library of Scotland