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Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||George Arthur Boswell |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||1879 |
|Died: ||15 January 1952 |
|Bio Notes: ||George Arthur Boswell was born in 1879, the son of James Boswell, draper, and Isabella Vallence. In June 1895 he was articled to William Edwards of Wolverhampton, remaining there as assistant until 1901. In the latter year he moved to the office of Messrs Welman and Street (Samuel Welman) of Godalming, Surrey, and finally in 1902 to James Miller's in Glasgow before setting up in practice at that city in 1905. In the following year he was working in partnership with James Macintyre (or McIntyre - sources vary), of whom no details are known. The partnership appears to have been short-lived, their only known work being the reconstruction of the former Britannia Music Hall in Trongate, Glasgow to form the Panopticon. The client for this was the building's new owner A E Pickard - "a 'character' who drove a Buick with a windscreen which could only be seen out of so that the car apparently travelled along Sauchiehall Street driverless… he discharged his accounts in threepenny pieces in canvas bags". Within a few years Boswell had established himself as a cinema specialist, with Pickard as his main client. Boswell's early work was strongly influenced by Miller, particularly in the use of faience, his best cinema being the La Scala in Dundee which had a tower surmounted by a golden globe. Boswell apparently continued to assist Miller during his earliest years of independent practice as Ninian Rutherford Jamieson Johnston, who joined the practice c.1934, knew that Boswell had been largely responsible for James Miller's New Savoy Theatre in Hope Street (1911), also carried out in faience. |
Boswell was elected LRIBA in the mass intake of 20 July 1911, proposed by John Bennie Wilson and the Glasgow Institute of Architects. He was admitted FRIBA in late 1920 or early 1921, his proposers being John Watson, William Brown Whitie and John Keppie. By this time he was designing industrial buildings and his FRIBA nomination papers state that his practice was occupied with factory contracts during the First World War.
Boswell was President of the Glasgow Institute of Architects c.1930. During the following decade he became one of Glasgow's most accomplished modernist designers as at the 1934 and 1936 blocks at Templeton's Carpet Factory, but he was an equally accomplished designer of period detail as can be seen in the refined metal work of Ciro's shopfront on Buchanan Street of 1926-27. From October 1931 onwards he also ran a branch office in Wolverhampton, of which the English architect Albert Hartwell was in charge.
Boswell was slightly eccentric wearing yellow clothes and hand-made leather shoes. In August 1985 Ninian Johnston recalled that 'he sketched, freehand, on any old piece of paper, which he then gave to an assistant to develop. He supervised the development of the assistant's board with attention to detail and construction (he had a wide knowledge of construction and many original ideas)'. The drawings in the office were 'done in ink in the crisp style of that period'. The best presentation drawings were the work of Archibald Paton, later County Architect of Inverness-shire.
After the Second World War the practice became George A Boswell & Partners when Ninian Johnston and Peter Mitchell were taken into partnership. Boswell died of prostate cancer on 15 January 1952 at White House, Milliken, which he had converted for his own use. He was survived by his wife Margaret Louise Napier whom he had married in 1910. The firm was continued by the surviving partners as Boswell, Mitchell & Johnston.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|6, Doune Quadrant, Kelvinside, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||1911 *|| || |
|53, Bothwell Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1911 *|| || |
|19, Waterloo Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1911||1915|| |
|256, West George Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1917 *||1952|| |
|White House, Milliken, Renfrewshire, Scotland||Private||1920||1952|| |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date proposed||Notes|
|John Keppie||Late 1920 or early 1921||for Fellowship|
|John Watson||Late 1920 or early 1921||for Fellowship|
|William Brown Whitie||Late 1920 or early 1921||for Fellowship|
|John Bennie Wilson||20 July 1911||for Licentiateship - as President of the Glasgow Institute of Architects|
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|British Architectural Library, RIBA||2001||Directory of British Architects 1834-1914|| || || |
|RIBA||1939||The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects|| |
|Walker, Frank Arneil||1986||South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew|| || ||p14, p78|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|H M Register House||Death Register|| || |
|National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMS||NMRS Architects Index|| || |
|Professor David M Walker personal archive||Professor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material|| ||Recollections by Ninian Johnston, August 1985|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||L v16 no1132; F no1756 (microfilm reel 14)|
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