|Name: ||Clarke & Bell and R A Bryden |
|Designation: ||Architectural practice |
|Started: ||1875(?) |
|Ended: ||1902 |
|Bio Notes: ||The practice of Clarke & Bell & R A Bryden began as a loose affiliation between the firm of William Clarke (1809-89) and George Bell (1814-87) and that of Robert Alexander Bryden (b. 1841). Bryden served his apprenticeship with Clarke & Bell and by 1864 was allowed to insert his name in The Glasgow Directory as 'at Clarke and Bell's'. In the Directory of 1875-76 he appears as 'of Clarke and Bell', implying a very senior position within the firm if not an actual partnership; and from 1876 Bryden seems to have run a simultaneous practice within the same office at 37 West Nile Street, a situation which persisted until 1891 when he was again described as 'of Clarke and Bell' and is known to have been in a formal partnership with the firm. By that time William Clarke and George Bell had died, and George Bell's son George Bell II, made a partner in 1880, was in charge of the firm. |
Bryden's practice remained a near-separate one with its own glazed door within the Clarke and Bell office and, even when in partnership, his work was usually publicised in his own name rather than that of the firm. Bryden had particularly good connections in the philanthropic field and was a director of the Scottish National Sabbath School Union. In 1901 he was described as having travelled extensively on the continent 'more especially in Germany, the Austrian Tyrol and Italy' although his architecture tended to be either Gothic or a rather coarse Netherlandish free Renaissance.
The Clarke & Bell & R A Bryden partnership was dissolved in 1902. The reasons for the break-up are uncertain but may relate to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College. Bryden was its architect and had prepared a design for a new college in 1892. He did not, however, retain the commission and in early 1901 a limited competition was held in which the invitation was to George Bell II who submitted a design by his principal assistant James Hoey Craigie (born 1870). This was placed second by the professional staff. The final catalyst seems to have been Bryden's son Andrew Francis Stewart Bryden. Born on 21 October 1876, Andrew was articled to his father's firm from 1893 to 1898 and remained as assistant but left in 1901 to gain wider experience. When he proposed to return in 1902 there would appear to have been some disagreement: although the younger Bryden had considerable ability, his health was unstable. The elder Bryden separated his practice from Bell's and commenced independent practice with his son as chief assistant, moving out of the Clarke & Bell office at 212 St Vincent Street to one of their own at 147 Bath Street. Bell continued the practice and three years later took Craigie into partnership. The Clarke & Bell practice first reverted to its former name, and then to Clarke & Bell & J H Craigie (see separate entries).