Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Salmon (senior)
Designation: Architect
Born: 11 October 1805
Died: 5 June 1888
Bio Notes: James Salmon was born on 11 October 1805 in Glasgow, the son of John Salmon, a weaver and merchant at Bonhill, Dunbartonshire, and his wife Margaret Jackson. Weavers tended to be well-read and politically radical and the Salmons' involvement in liberal politics over three generations probably stemmed from that time. James was the second child of that name, an earlier one born at Christmas 1795 having died. John Salmon died early leaving his son 'only his constitution'. Early in life he moved to Glasgow where he became a pupil in the office of John Brash, and established himself in independent practice c. 1825, reputedly in a Trongate basement. Although no buildings are known from these very early years, by 19 March 1837 he was sufficiently prosperous to marry Helen Russell (1817-81) in Edinburgh. They had five children: Williamina (or Wilhelmina, born c.1841); William Forrest (born 1843); Margaret (born c.1846); James (born 19 June 1853); and Helen (born 1856), who became an artist.

In 1843 he was taken into partnership by Robert Black, architect to the Union Bank, the practice name becoming Black & Salmon. While there is no record of his having travelled, by the middle 1840s Salmon was buying German folios, and first came to real prominence in 1849 with the building of the neo-perpendicular St Matthew's Church in Bath Street and the very sophisticated Renaissance warehouse at 49 Miller Street for the art collector Archibald McLellan.

In c. 1854 the partnership of Black & Salmon was dissolved, Black entering into a brief partnership with the civil engineer Alexander George Thomson. The reasons are not known, but Black had lost the Union Bank connection to William Railton in Kilmarnock and Salmon had been commissioned by the banker and merchant Alexander Dennistoun to design the new east-end suburb of Dennistoun in that year. From that time onwards Salmon began to be prominent in professional, public and Free Church institutions. He was one of the promoters of the Glasgow Architectural Exhibition building in 1853 and was instrumental in founding the Glasgow Architectural Society in 1858 as proposer and first Vice-President. In 1860 he was elected to the 11th Ward of Glasgow Town Council and he served as a representative until 1878, becoming in time a Baillie (1864-72), convener of the Parks and Galleries Committee, and a member of the Prison Board through which he obtained the commission - ostensibly in competition - to reconstruct Duke Street bridewell and build a new governor's house in 1871. This resulted in his au clef appearance as second subject in the Bailie's 'Men-you-know' series in which he was described as 'a moral man, a grave man, a man of noble sentiments and speech … perhaps there never was a more moral man… He was just the person who would have improved the city, and his circumstances, by contriving to enrich it with a suburb and to draw the plans himself in order to prevent important work from falling into improper hands… Aware of the uprightness and integrity of his motives, he would, if he were a commissioner or a member of a prison board, employ himself as architect without any of the hesitation which less eminently respectable persons might feel out of deference to the proprietors… This is not the character of an ancient Roman, but it is such as we poor moderns are bound to admire.'

Of James Salmon's sons the younger, James, trained as an accountant and settled in Australia in 1882, returning only briefly to visit the family in 1887. The elder, William Forrest Salmon, was sent to the office of James Smith in or about 1857 to train as an architect. There he became acquainted with William Leiper, William Scott Morton and the decorative artist James Moyr Smith, then engaged on the lavish interior work of Overtoun, Dumbarton. On completing his articles Forrest followed Scott Morton to London, securing a place in the office of George Gilbert Scott. From there he was probably responsible for the design of the polychrome Italian Gothic Anderston Established Church in 1864. He returned to Glasgow in or about 1866 and became a partner in the firm in 1867 or 1868 along with James Ritchie who had been a senior assistant in the office since at least 1862, the practice name becoming Salmon Son & Ritchie.

In 1868 James Salmon (Senior) became first President of the newly founded Glasgow Institute of Architects, Alexander Thomson being his Vice-President, and together with his son Forrest was admitted FRIBA on 4 December 1876. They were amongst the first recruits in Charles Barry Junior and John Honeyman's campaign to extend the Scottish membership, their third proposer being Thomas Leverton Donaldson who had Ayrshire connections. In the meantime the partnership with Ritchie had been dissolved in 1872, the practice name now becoming James Salmon & Son.

In his youth Forrest Salmon appears to have had promise as a Gothic designer, notably at Gallowhill House, Paisley (1867), but it was not sustained. Nevertheless the Salmons did succeed in attracting notable pupils in James Marjoribanks MacLaren and George Washington Browne. Like Leiper, Forrest retained his links with London which were greatly strengthened by the Scott Mortons who expanded their business first to the capital and then in 1889 to New York. These links brought the Salmons into an even wider artistic circle, Forrest's sister Helen Russell Salmon marrying the Yorkshire-born animal painter Tom Hunt, and among their many friends was the London Swedish architectural draughtsman Axel Haig who had accompanied Forrest on his first visit to Italy.

James Salmon (Senior) died on 5 June 1888 when walking home after giving one of his celebrated after-dinner speeches: he also had some reputation as a poet, having written a long pastoral comedy, 'Gowandean' (or 'Gowodean'), which was illustrated by his friend Sir Daniel Macnee. He left moveable estate of £2,559 19s 11d. In his will he is described as'architect, estate agent and valuator'. The firm was continued under the same name by William Forrest Salmon (see separate entries).

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 7Trongate, Glasgow, Scotland(?)Businessc. 1825  
Item 2 of 715, Grafton Square, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1851  
Item 3 of 7145, Hope Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness18541856 
Item 4 of 7141, West George Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness18601872 
Item 5 of 797, Hill Street, Garnethill, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1861  
Item 6 of 7Broomknowe, Broompark Circus, Dennistoun, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 18711888 
Item 7 of 7197, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness18751880(?)James Salmon & Son continued from this address after 1888

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 Brashc. 1820c. 1825Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4Black & Salmon1843c. 1853Partner 
Item 3 of 4Salmon, Son & Ritchie1867 or 18681872Partner 
Item 4 of 4James Salmon & Son18721888Partner 

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 4John Gordonc. 1853Before 1857Chief Assistant 
Item 2 of 4John Moyr Smithc. 1855c. 1859Apprentice 
Item 3 of 4James Ritchie1862 or 18631864(?)Senior Assistant 
Item 4 of 4William Forrest Salmonc. 18661867 or 1868  


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Charles Barry (junior)4 December 1876for Fellowship
Item 2 of 3Thomas Leverton Donaldson4 December 1876for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3John Honeyman4 December 1876for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 2Andrew Heiton (junior)23 June 1879for Fellowship
Item 2 of 2James Archibald Morris23 May 1881for 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 591839Blythswood Testimonial schoolsRenfrew RenfrewshireScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 2 of 591840sSpringfield Court, Queen Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 3 of 591844Ardrossan Parish ChurchArdrossan AyrshireScotland 
Item 4 of 591844Irvine Free ChurchIrvine AyrshireScotland 
Item 5 of 591846Union BankStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 6 of 591848Free St Mark's ChurchAnderston GlasgowScotland 
Item 7 of 59c. 1848Magdalen Institution and Boys' House of Refuge  GlasgowScotlandBuilding of Magdalen Institution and additions to Boys' House of Refuge
Item 8 of 591849Free St Matthew's Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 9 of 591849Warehouse, Miller Street  GlasgowScotlandRebuilding after fire
Item 10 of 591850Catholic Apostolic Church  GlasgowScotlandWorked from Pugin's sketch designs
Item 11 of 59c. 1850Union BankPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandProbably designed original building
Item 12 of 591852BarracksGovan GlasgowScotlandConverted to poorhouse
Item 13 of 591852Buchanan Street Railway Station  GlasgowScotlandProduced scheme for new station - scheme abandoned and Salmon paid off
Item 14 of 591853British Linen Bank Head Office  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 15 of 591853Union Bank  GlasgowScotlandNew telling room (John Thomas was the sculptor) - unclear whether finished by Black or by Salmon after dissolution of partnership
Item 16 of 59c. 1853British Linen BankGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 17 of 591854Proposed feuing plans for DennistounDennistoun GlasgowScotlandPlans for entirely new suburb of villas etc.; work eventually carried out did not follow these plans
Item 18 of 591855National Bank of Scotland and Square of Business ChambersShawlands GlasgowScotlandVarious alterations
Item 19 of 591858Feuing of the Queenstown EstateKelvinside GlasgowScotlandScheme revised and extended following limited competition with Wilson and Rochead
Item 20 of 591859Paisley AbbeyPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandProposals for rebuilding - some work executed on nave and transepts
Item 21 of 591860Auchingramont ChurchHamilton LanarkshireScotland 
Item 22 of 591860Mechanics Institute  GlasgowScotlandOriginal building
Item 23 of 591860Wemyss HouseWemyss Bay RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 24 of 591861National Bank of Scotland, Airdrie BranchAirdrie LanarkshireScotlandConsulted on repairs and drainage
Item 25 of 591861St Mark's Established ChurchAnderston GlasgowScotland 
Item 26 of 591863Middle Free ChurchPaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 27 of 591864'Group of buildings'   ScotlandDesign
Item 28 of 591864Anderston Established ChurchAnderston GlasgowScotland 
Item 29 of 591864Old West KirkGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandRenovation of building at Nicholson Street
Item 30 of 591864Victoria Free Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 31 of 591866Deaf and Dumb InstituteLangside GlasgowScotland 
Item 32 of 591867Gallowhill HousePaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 33 of 591867Highfield  GlasgowScotlandPerhaps - or maybe John Gordon - see notes
Item 34 of 591868Cranstonhill Bakeries  GlasgowScotland 
Item 35 of 59c. 1868Bluevale ChurchDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 36 of 591869Greenock InfirmaryGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandEnlargement
Item 37 of 591871Barony Parochial AsylumLenzie LanarkshireScotlandWon competition and secured job - began with linking blocks and wings
Item 38 of 591871British Linen Bank Eglinton Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 39 of 591871Lanarkshire County Bridewell  GlasgowScotlandReconstruction and new house for governor: won in competition
Item 40 of 591871Magdalen Institution and Boys' House of Refuge  GlasgowScotlandAdditions to Boys' House of Refuge
Item 41 of 591871Middle Free ChurchGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 42 of 59c. 1871Templetons' Warehouse  GlasgowScotland 
Item 43 of 591874Dennistoun Free ChurchDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 44 of 591874Prestwick Free ChurchPrestwick AyrshireScotlandOriginal building
Item 45 of 591874St Andrew's Parish Church  GlasgowScotlandReplacement of pews
Item 46 of 591875Camden Street School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 47 of 591875Crookston Street School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 48 of 591875Greenside School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 49 of 591875Lambhill Public School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 50 of 591875Oatlands SchoolOatlands GlasgowScotland 
Item 51 of 59Before 1876Mansion for Mr ClarkPaisley (near) RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 52 of 591877Cranstonhill Bakeries  GlasgowScotlandFurther buildings
Item 53 of 59June 1877Trades House  GlasgowScotlandPlans for new building submitted for invited competition; subsequently abandoned after failure to reach a decision
Item 54 of 591879Lanfine Cottage Home for Consumptives, BroomhillKirkintilloch DunbartonshireScotlandPlans
Item 55 of 591879New Club  GlasgowScotland 
Item 56 of 591880Glasgow Municipal Buildings  GlasgowScotlandFirst competition design
Item 57 of 591881Dennistoun SchoolDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 58 of 591882Trades House  GlasgowScotlandEntered second competition - not successful
Item 59 of 591884Broomhill HouseKirkintilloch DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations and additions - east wing and end tower with cupola


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 8O'Donnell, Raymond2003The life and work of James Salmon architect, 1873-1924 Edinburgh: The Rutland Press 
Item 2 of 8Post Office Directories     
Item 3 of 8Scotland Census 18511851    
Item 4 of 8Scotland Census 18611861    
Item 5 of 8Scotlands People Website Wills & Testaments  Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories SC70/48/123
Item 6 of 8Walker, David M1966Salmon, Son, Grandson and Gillespie Scottish Art Review, vol. X, no. 3, pp. 17-29 
Item 7 of 8Walker, David W1995The Salmon Collection Unpublished: copy in NMRSDSA text is adapted from this source
Item 8 of 8Walker, Frank Arneil1986South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew  p7, p13, p127

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 4British Architect15 June 1888  Obituary
Item 2 of 4Builder24 November 1888  Obituary
Item 3 of 4Glasgow Herald6 June 1888  Obituary
Item 4 of 4The Bailie30 October 1872   

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 Research on family history and addresses by Iain Paterson
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v5 p54, microfiche 88/G5