Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Alfred George Lochhead |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||30 December 1887 |
|Died: ||November 1972 |
|Bio Notes: ||Alfred George Lochhead was born on 30 December 1887 in Greenock and educated at Greenock Academy. In 1906 he was articled to Thomas Graham Abercrombie of Paisley, and he studied at Glasgow School of Achitecture (1906 to 1911) and the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College under Charles Gourlay, Alexander McGibbon and Eugène Bourdon for six sessions. Thereafter he spent three months on a study tour in Italy. As he was an outstanding student, obtaining several distinctions, Gourlay engaged him as assistant in his evening classes for the years 1910-1913. He moved to the office of John Burnet & Son where he spent one year and three months and James Shearer and Herbert Honeyman became particular friends. After doing much of the work on Burnet and Son's competition entry for the Teacher Training College at Jordanhill under Norman Aitken Dick he emigrated to Canada to work for Ross & Macdonald on the Wesleyan College of McGill University and on Canadian Pacific Railway stations and hotels. After the First World War broke out he tried to enlist in the Canadian Army but was not accepted for overseas service. He then returned home and was commissioned as a second Lieutenant in the British Army serving in France. In June 1916 he learned that Eugène Bourdon, with whom he had had a particularly good relationship, was serving with the French Army on the adjoining lines and sent him a note: Bourdon suggested an inn at which they might meet for a meal on 1 July, but he did not turn up, having been killed earlier. Shortly thereafter Lochhead was shot through both knees and spent the remainder of the war in Holzminden prisoner-of-war camp where a kindly German military surgeon repaired his knees. Lochhead was fluent in both spoken and written German and became a legendary forger of identity documents for those who had a sufficiently good command of German to attempt escape. |
After the war Lochhead's parents persuaded him not to return to Canada as he had intended and he spent one year in an unspecified Glasgow office. He had hoped to work on the restoration of Paisley Abbey and wrote to Peter Macgregor Chalmers in 1919 in the hope of being engaged on it. Chalmers - accompanied by Mrs Chalmers, who interrupted from time to time - interviewed him courteously but said he could only bear him in mind as no work was going ahead at that time. Late in 1919 he obtained a place in Sir Robert Lorimer's office and applied for admission as ARIBA under the War Exemption Scheme in December, one of his proposers being Sir John Burnet, who was at first somewhat tetchy about being approached as his service was six years in the past. The other proposers were Lorimer and Keppie. In the spring of 1920 Lorimer dismissed his chief draughtsman John Ross McKay and Lochhead was engaged as his replacement. With Lorimer Lochhead had a very happy relationship, working mainly on war memorials and the earlier schemes for the Scottish National War Memorial. When Chalmers died suddenly in March 1922 Lochhead's hope of working on Paisley Abbey was realised when Lorimer received the commission. Mrs Chalmers was outraged as she planned to complete it with her nephew J Jeffry Waddell and refused to hand over the drawings. Lochhead had to make a measured survey of what had been done and together he and Lorimer redesigned the vault and the east gable of the choir, the latter after a spur of the moment train trip to Carlisle.
The work at Paisley proceeded more slowly than Lochhead had hoped and in 1923 he resigned to commence practice on his own account. Lorimer asked him if he knew of a good Glasgow-trained man to take his place and he recommended Harry Hubbard, later of Williamson and Hubbard. In 1924 Lorimer recommended him for a 'setting up' commission, Cleghorn's building at the corner of George Street and Castle Street in Edinburgh.
Lochhead's practice was in Glasgow as his connections were predominantly west coast. It never consisted of much more than himself and an apprentice, the most important of these being Ninian Johnston, who joined him as an office boy in 1926 and left him for George Boswell's in the mid-1930s. Practice was difficult because of the depression; much of his practice was concerned with church furnishings, stained glass, and for a time Lochhead was a decorator for the well-off rather than an architect, the superb French chryselephantine sculptures and Georg Jensen table silver that distinguished his home at 19 Sandyford Place being stock from that time; and although he himself was never particularly well-off - late in life he married a surgeon, Helen Wingate, who was - he was a discriminating collector of Glasgow school painters. He was also a fine musician, a quartet met in his office, one of Johnston's office jobs being to set up the music stands when the office closed. Lochhead was at his busiest during and just after the Second World War when he was fully engaged on requisitioning and subsequent reparations. In the early 1950s he was commissioned to design a large office block for Lithgows at Port Glasgow, but he became ill, part of the problem being nervous exhaustion, and he was obliged to retire.
In April 1956 Ian G Lindsay appointed him part-time investigator of historic buildings for the West of Scotland, Lochhead's friend Joseph Weekes having died in 1950. Lochhead did not drive, but he listed Glasgow by public transport and on foot; in 1960-61 he listed his native Renfrewshire, for most of which his wife drove. None of these was ever paid for: under the departmental rules the Department of Health could pay only for complete days, and a health problem limited how much he could do. For these lists Lochhead carried out a formidable programme of research; latterly this was in conjunction with David Walker who took over from him in 1962 when ill health ruled out further field work. Although a stylish writer, a certain shyness and reticence prevented him from publishing more than the briefest anonymous papers himself.
Despite his war wounds and somewhat fragile health Lochhead had a very slim sprightly appearance to the end of his life. He was teetotal and extremely fastidious in both dress and speech; and although never blind, his Glasgow Art Club nickname 'Delius' accurately described his personal appearance.
In the later 1960s Lochhead suffered a serious stroke. He made an almost full recovery but immediately thereafter the Lochheads moved to a ground floor flat in a villa in Nithsdale Road, close to what had been his parents' house. During the move, despite pleas not to do so, he destroyed both his practice papers and the splendid Italian studentship drawings that adorned his office. He died suddenly of a heart attack in November 1972. The Lochheads had no family, and after a few years Helen Lochhead moved to a nursing home at Oxford to be near her sister.
(W T Johnston notes that he was 'Testate, Glasgow, 19 March 1973')
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|10, Hillview, Paisley, Renfrewshire, Scotland||Private||1906 *|| || |
|c/o Cunningham/63, Union Street, Greenock, Renfrewshire, Scotland||Private||1909 *|| || |
|205, Nithsdale Road, Pollokshields, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||1910 *|| || |
|62, Robertson Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1924 *|| || |
|65, West Regent Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||Before 1929||After 1934|| |
|196, Bath Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1940 *|| || |
|19, Sandyford Place, Glasgow, Scotland||Private/business||Before 1948||c. 1968|| |
|226, Nithsdale Road, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||c. 1968(?)||1972|| |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|Ninian Rutherford Jamieson Johnston||1929||1931||Apprentice|| |
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|RIBA||1930||The RIBA Kalendar 1930-1931|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects|| |
|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|| || ||p7|
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||12 October 1951|| || ||p502|
|Builder||14 August 1953|| || ||p264|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Professor David M Walker personal archive||Professor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material|| ||Personal information from Alfred G Lochhead; additional research (including birth date and addresses) by Iain Paterson|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||A no 3006 (Microfilm Reel 24, v 26-27)|