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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Thomas Gildard
Designation: Architect
Born: 1822
Died: 5 December 1895
Bio Notes: Thomas Gildard ('Gildey') was born in 1822 at Bonhill, Dunbartonshire (some sources give Luss but this is categorically denied by Gildard himself in a speech he gave on 25 March 1858 as Chairman of the First Glasgow-Luss Soirée' - see below), the son of Jonas Gildard, hotelkeeper, and his wife Mary Taylor. In December 1838 he was articled to David and James Hamilton for five years, and probably remained with them after David's death until the Hamilton & Smith partnership was sequestrated in 1844. He never stated where he spent the next few years, perhaps with the Smith & Baird partnership which succeeded it, but c.1852-53 he formed a partnership with Robert Hutchison Murdoch Macfarlane. Macfarlane had been born c.1831, the son of Robert Macfarlane, cotton manufacturer, and his wife Helen Hutchison; it is not known in which office he was articled. Volumes which have appeared on the market with his crest bookplate indicate that he was able to afford an excellent library, and family connections saw the partnership off to a quick start.

The partnership was cemented by Macfarlane marrying Gildard's sister Eliza Taylor Gildard in the Alloway Hotel at Ayr on 28 September 1859, but it proved tragically short: Eliza died soon afterwards and Macfarlane himself died of consumption at 115 Dumbarton Road, Glasgow on 23 March 1862, the death being reported by his brother-in-law. He was buried in Glasgow Cathedral Cemetery. Shortly thereafter Gildard closed their practice to join the staff of his lifelong friend John Carrick, who had closed his partnership with James Brown to become full-time City Master of Works in 1854.

Gildard's appointment gave him a unique insight into architectural practice in Glasgow which formed the basis of his reports to the architectural and building journals and of his several writings on the subject. Although in later years an employee rather than a principal, he remained a prominent member of the Architectural Institute of Scotland, and of the Glasgow Architectural Society and the Glasgow Institute of Architects, formed in 1858 and 1868 respectively. As a member of these he was unafraid of controversy: in June 1856 he gave an anti-papal paper to the Architectural Institute on 'Church Architecture', condemning the Presbyterian churches then being built - particularly the Gothic ones - as 'the vanity of individuals and the pride of congregations'; and on 20 February 1870 he delivered the Glasgow Architectural Society's rebuke to the National Monument Committee on the conduct of the Wallace Monument competition, and, indirectly, to John Thomas Rochead, a colleague in the Hamilton office who had remained a friend.

Gildard was a close friend of Alexander Thomson and a member of the circle centred on the Mossmans' studio, writing memoirs of both Thomson and the Mossmans. He contributed to the literary columns of the daily press, these contributions including among others reminiscences of Alexander Smith, the poet; and Hugh Macdonald who wrote 'Rambles around Glasgow' and other works of a similar character.

Gildard remained an employee in the city offices almost up to the time of his death of bronchitis at 133 Berkeley Street, Glasgow on 5 December 1895. He was described at this time as single. The Robert J Gildard (b.1869) who became an architect whom Alexander Wright thought was his son was actually the son of James Gildard who was a hotel keeper at the Burn's Arms Hotel in Ayr and who may have been a brother of Thomas Gildard as he too was born in Bonhill.

'Architectural Excursions' 1867, Busby Mechanics Institution, 13 February 1867
Obituary of Alexander Thomson, 'Building News', 26 March 1875
'Mr Alexander Thomson', 'British Architect', 26 March 1875 and 16 April 1875
'Greek Thomson', lecture to Philosophical Society of Glasgow, 30 January 1888, published in the 'Proceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow', xix (1888), pp191-210
Manuscript memoir of John Carrick, incorporating collected obituaries, 1890
Manuscript memoir of Alexander Thomson, incorporating his lectures and an appreciation of his work
'On the late John Mossman, Hon Royal Scottish Academician', 'Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow, 1892, xxiii, pp291-302
'An Old Glasgow Architect remembers some older ones', 3 December 1894, 'Proceedings of the Philosophical Society of Glasgow, xxvi, pp97-123; reprinted in the 'Builders' Journal', 23 and 30 July and 6, 13 and 20 August 1895
'Some Old Glasgow Architects', supplementary manuscript to the above
[All the above manuscripts are held in the Mitchell Library]

For Gildard's place of birth see Gildard's 'Miscellanea' (Glasgow, Mitchell Library Special Collections, Gildard, Thomas, 'Miscellanea', Mitchell (GC), 828 214964), wherein he recorded a speech he gave on 25 March 1858: 'Address as Chairman of the First Glasgow-Luss Soirée' (pp. 11-21). Gildard opens his address stating that while he is 'highly flattered' to act as chair of the evening's proceedings, he questions whether it might not have been better suited to have let a native of Luss preside instead:

''Satisfied that "the right man in the right place" would have been not a mere temporary sojourner such as was myself, but that either a native of the parish, or possibly some one [sic] with the claims of either immediate kindred or other powerful or interesting associative tie, would with more propriety have presided over at least this the first of these social celebrations, I know not well to what I can ascribe this, having not been "born to greatness," having had it "thrust upon me." In reflecting over it, I have been sometimes almost vain enough to suppose, that it is in consideration of my own Lussfulness – that it is perhaps a compliment to that rapturous admiration which was born within me the moment that I first beheld the old romantic little village with its setting of marvellous [sic] beauty of loch, and glen, and mountain – to having, as soon as I became a resident, endeavoured to imbue myself with its peculiar genius […]’.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4163, Hope Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1853After 1860 
Item 2 of 4104, West Regent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1862After 1862 
Item 3 of 431A, Elderslie Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate/business1868 *After 1881 
Item 4 of 4133, Berkeley Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate18881895 

* 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 7D & J HamiltonDecember 1838December 1843Apprentice 
Item 2 of 7Hamilton & SmithDecember 1843(?)1844(?)Assistant(?)It is probable, but not certain, that Gildard remained in the firm during this period
Item 3 of 7Smith & Baird1846(?)1848Assistant(?)It is possible, but by no means certain, that Gildard remained in the firm during this period
Item 4 of 7Gildard & Macfarlane1852 or 1853(?)1862Partner 
Item 5 of 7John Carrick1863 or 18641890(?)In Glasgow Office of Public Works/City Architect's Department
Item 6 of 7Glasgow Office of Public Works Architectural Department (later Glasgow Corporation City Engineer's Department)1863 or 18641895(?)Working under John Carrick, City Architect and Master of Works and from 1890 under Alexander Beith McDonald
Item 7 of 7Alexander Beith McDonald18901895(?)In Glasgow Office of Public Works

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 8 Surgeons' Hall, Anderson's University  GlasgowScotlandDate unknown
Item 2 of 81853Unitarian Church  GlasgowScotlandCompetition designs - not successful
Item 3 of 81854Clyde Thread Works  GlasgowScotland 
Item 4 of 81856Belgrave Terrace  GlasgowScotland 
Item 5 of 81857ArdenvohrRhu/Row DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 6 of 81857Campbell's Music Salon  GlasgowScotlandRe-facing of earlier warehouse and construction of music hall
Item 7 of 81858Seafield TowerArdrossan AyrshireScotlandAdditions
Item 8 of 81864Dumbarton Burgh Halls and Committee Rooms and Dumbarton AcademyDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandDrew up original Classical design - unexecuted


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Architects Engineers and Building Trades Directory1868Architect's, Engineer's and Building Trades' Directory London, Wyman 
Item 2 of 2Gildard, Thomas1895An Old Glasgow Architect on some Older OnesXXVIProceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builders Journal10 December 1895  Obituary
Item 2 of 3Glasgow Herald6 December 1895  Obituary
Item 3 of 3The Bailie12 June 1889  'Men You Know' - portrait, etc.

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 6Courtesy of Lauren J WeissInformation sent to the Dictionary Sent July 2015
Item 2 of 6Glasgow, Mitchell Library Special CollectionsGildard, Thomas, 'Miscellanea'  
Item 3 of 6Mitchell LibraryGildard's 'Some Old Glasgow Architects' supplementary manuscript  
Item 4 of 6Mitchell LibraryGildard's Manuscript Book on Alexander Thomson  
Item 5 of 6Mitchell LibraryGildard's manuscript reminiscences of John Carrick  
Item 6 of 6Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from Alexander Wright; additional research by Iain Paterson


© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Gordon Urquhart 

© All rights reserved. Courtesy of Gordon Urquhart