Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Spence
Designation: Architect
Born: c. 1806(?)
Died: 22 June 1883
Bio Notes: William Spence was born in 1806 probably at Carstairs (rather than at Biggar as sometimes recorded), the son of John Spence, a shoemaker and Margaret Kane. His brother was born in 1804 and his sister in 1809, both at Carstairs. His obituary gives his age as sixty-five (i.e. born c.1817), but this is incorrect as he was christened on 19 February 1806. In his early life he entered the office of John Bryce of Glasgow. He may have been an assistant rather than a pupil of Bryce as Gildard's reference appears to suggest. It is possible that he spent his earlier years in William Burn or David Bryce's Castle Street office as the first large house with which Spence's name is associated, Coulter Mains, 1838, is markedly of the Burn & Bryce school.

Spence made his name early as a theatre architect, and established a strong presence in Helensburgh when he was commissioned to prepare a feuing plan for the upper areas of the town in 1857. He also had what seems to have been a significant domestic practice in Ulster, but this remains somewhat elusive. His later commercial buildings - Stewart & MacDonalds in Buchanan Street and the Clydesdale, Dundee - have a refined Roman Corinthian treatment.

Spence married Margaret Field. She died on 9 June 1879. Spence died in Ardlui, Helensburgh on 22 June 1883 after a long illness. He had retired in 1880 and Henry Field Spence became sole partner in the firm which retained the name William Spence & Son. Henry Field Spence continued the practice until ***.

William Spence's moveable estate amounted to 2414 8s 9d, but he probably owned significant heritable property

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 734, Glassford Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1839 *  
Item 2 of 7141, Buchanan Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness18441851 
Item 3 of 797, Union Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness18531859 
Item 4 of 752, Renfield Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness18601871Also from 1877
Item 5 of 7Ardlui House, East Montrose Street, Helensburgh, Dunbartonshire, ScotlandPrivate1862 *1883 
Item 6 of 7109 (or 189?), St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1876 Temporary address perhaps for rebuilding?
Item 7 of 7212, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessc. 1877  

* 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 2John BryceBefore 1832(?)Before 1837Assistant(?) 
Item 2 of 2William Spence & SonBefore 1879(?)1880Partner(?) 

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 6Hugh Barclayc. 1845c. 1850Apprentice 
Item 2 of 6Alexander Wattc. 1850(?)c. 1854(?)Apprentice(?) 
Item 3 of 6John GordonAfter 18541857Chief Assistant 
Item 4 of 6Duncan McNaughtan18631868Apprentice 
Item 5 of 6Donald Bruce18631880ApprenticeRemained as assistant until 1880.
Item 6 of 6James Milne Monroc. 18651872Assistant 

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 481837Two adjoining housesSpringvale GlasgowScotland 
Item 2 of 481838Coulter Mains HouseCulter LanarkshireScotland 
Item 3 of 481840Theatre Royal  GlasgowScotland 
Item 4 of 481843Dalmarnock Gas WorksDalmarnock GlasgowScotland 
Item 5 of 481844City Theatre  GlasgowScotland 
Item 6 of 481845United Secession ChurchHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland'Probably' (HS)
Item 7 of 481847Rhu Parish ChurchRhu/Row DunbartonshireScotlandOriginal church
Item 8 of 481850Chapelacre HouseHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 9 of 48185472 Jamaica Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 10 of 481855Bazaar  GlasgowScotland 
Item 11 of 481855Gilford Castle  County DownNorthern Ireland 
Item 12 of 481856Elmfield HouseGilford County DownNorthern IrelandAttribution
Item 13 of 481856Kinblethmont HouseArbroath (near) AngusScotlandOriginal house
Item 14 of 481856Peden Cross BuildingCranstonhill? GlasgowScotland 
Item 15 of 481857Upper Helensburgh, feuing planHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 16 of 481857Villa, EasthornTollcross GlasgowScotland 
Item 17 of 481858HouseHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 18 of 481858Randolph Elder & Co Engineering WorksTradeston GlasgowScotlandWith Angus Kennedy, engineer
Item 19 of 481859Arrochar Parish ChurchArrochar DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 20 of 481859Bridgend UP ChurchWest Bridgend, Dumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 21 of 481859Helensburgh Pier and EsplanadeHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandPier
Item 22 of 481860Helensburgh UP ChurchHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 23 of 481860Western Concert HallGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 24 of 481861Dumbarton County Buildings, court and prisonDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandAddition of symmetrical wings
Item 25 of 481861Premises for McIntyre, Argyle Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 26 of 481863Trades House  GlasgowScotlandAlterations and rebuilding of south wing to match north wing (as proposed by Charles Wilson)
Item 27 of 481864Baillieston UP ChurchBaillieston GlasgowScotland 
Item 28 of 481866Cameron House and estate buildings  Dunbartonshire/StirlingshireScotlandRebuilding of house after fire - incorporating library wing which remained
Item 29 of 481866Stewart & McDonald's Warehouse  GlasgowScotlandOriginal north section
Item 30 of 481867Fraser & McLaren's warehouse, rear building  GlasgowScotland 
Item 31 of 481867Prince of Wales Theatre  GlasgowScotlandUnclear if any involvement at this date.
Item 32 of 48Before 1868ArdluiHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 33 of 481869Prince of Wales Theatre  GlasgowScotlandRebuilding after fire.
Item 34 of 481870Cameron House and estate buildings  Dunbartonshire/StirlingshireScotlandOther estate buildings
Item 35 of 481871Warehouse for Glasgow Storage Co  GlasgowScotland 
Item 36 of 481872Fraser and McLaren's warehouse  GlasgowScotlandRebuilding after fire of 27 March 1872
Item 37 of 481873Warehouse for John Tod & Co  GlasgowScotland 
Item 38 of 481876Clydesdale Bank  DundeeScotland 
Item 39 of 481876Polytechnic Department Store  GlasgowScotland 
Item 40 of 481877House for schoolteacherHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandExtension
Item 41 of 481877Tenement for Thomas Sharp, East Princes StreetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 42 of 481877Villa for John Jack, Montrose StreetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 43 of 481879Hermitage SchoolHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 44 of 481879House, Sutherand StreetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandExtension
Item 45 of 481879RockmountHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 46 of 485 May 1879Carron BankHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandAdditions
Item 47 of 48c. 1879Stewart & McDonald's Warehouse  GlasgowScotlandRebuilding of south section and improvement of Buchanan Street frontage as a whole
Item 48 of 481881Burton HillHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandAddition


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Gildard, Thomas1895An Old Glasgow Architect on some Older OnesXXVIProceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgowp117
Item 2 of 2Scotlands People Website Wills & Testaments  Dumbarton Sheriff Court SC65/34/26

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Helensburgh and Gareloch Times27 June 1883   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Courtesy of Charles HoustonInformation sent via'Contact Us' on website Sent June 2012