Basic Biographical Details

Name: John McKissack & Son
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1900
Bio Notes: John McKissack was born c.1844, the son of James McKissack, mechanical engineer and Janet McGhie from Girvan. He was educated at St Enoch's School but no further details are known of his training.

In 1872 McKissack formed a partnership with William Gardner Rowan who was two years his junior and had trained as both architect and civil engineer with George Penrose Kennedy and James Fairie Blair. Two years later, on 9 July 1874 at 158 Hospital Street, Gorbals, McKissack married Helen Ronald, daughter of Alexander Ronald, master baker and Marion Black. Rowan was a witness at the wedding. They had five children: two sons James (born 1875) and Alex (born c.1877) were born in Glasgow, and a further son John (born c.1880) and two daughters Helen (born c.1883) and Mary (born c.1886) were born in Govan.

After the formation of the partnership, Rowan did most of the design work. In 1889 McKissack took his son James, who had been educated at Allan Glen's School, into the McKissack & Rowan practice as an apprentice.

Rowan had little taste for the 'shoddy' tenement side of McKissack's practice and early in 1890 the partnership was amicably dissolved. McKissack continued practice, with James completed his apprenticeship with his father and attending Glasgow School of Art (from 1890 to 1894) and the Glasgow & West of Scotland Technical College under Professor Charles Gourlay. He remained with his father as assistant and was taken into partnership in 1900, the practice title becoming John McKissack & Son. About this time he made a study tour in Italy and France.

The elder McKissack never sought admission to the RIBA. About 1912 he had a major operation and withdrew from the practice. He died on 27 August 1915 at 9 St Andrews Drive, Pollokshields leaving moveable estate of 813 15s. He was survived by his second wife Jessie Ferguson Tyre, daughter of the landscape painter John Tyre, whom he had married on 22 June 1894 at 4 Florence Place, and all five of his children. James continued the practice under the same name thereafter, and from about that date specialised almost exclusively in cinema work, mainly for George Singleton. In August 1986 Professor McKean recorded his recollections of the younger McKissack:
'McKissack was a distinguished camera man who exhibited in New York. Because of his knowledge of photography, McKissack was used as a film booker for Cranston's Picture House. He was gentlemanly, and rather remote. He travelled a lot to Germany and Northern Europe, from which the inspiration of the Cosmo clearly derived. He did some other work notably an electricity substation at the bottom of Hope Street. He was a man of taste and refinement. The faience of the frontages of cinemas before the Cosmo was largely due to the influence of George Singleton, since it was good for wear and tear. Frontages always had to be clean and attractive. McKissack's office was in West Regent Street, an absolute dump, but with a large empty room at the front with a gigantic chest in the middle of the floor, into which he threw all the drawings without any order, and from which he had to retrieve them when necessary.'
Bruce Peter has established that he visited Hilversum to see the work of Dudok, from which the design of the Cosmo was derived.

In his last years McKissack worked in partnership with William James Anderson II, 'a quiet unassuming man who was not in the least commercial' and was an extremely accomplished designer. The practice title remained unchanged as John McKissack & Son.

McKissack married Isabella Somerville, daughter of the lithographic artist Thomas Somerville, at Burlington House, Glasgow on 30 October 1928; she died before 1938. McKissack died of heart failure on 24 June 1940 at 9 St Andrew's Drive; William James Anderson II on 18 January 1950.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 268|69, West Regent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1900After 1940 
Item 2 of 256, West Regent Street, Glasgow, Scotland January 1948 Builder 2 January 1948 p24

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 12Alexander Thomson Heathcote18991902Assistant 
Item 2 of 12John McKissack1900c. 1912Partner 
Item 3 of 12James McKissack19001940Partner 
Item 4 of 12Alexander Thomson Heathcote19031904Assistant 
Item 5 of 12William Barclay1903 or 19041904 or 1905Assistant 
Item 6 of 12William Wallace Friskin19051910Apprentice 
Item 7 of 12David Arthur Carmichael1912Before 1914Assistant 
Item 8 of 12John Hinshelwood14 April 192314 April 1928Apprentice 
Item 9 of 12William James Anderson IIc. 1924 Partner 
Item 10 of 12John Hinshelwood14 April 19288 October 1939Chief Assistant 
Item 11 of 12James Boyne Watson19341940Assistant 
Item 12 of 12James Boyne Watson1946 Assistant 

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice 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 691900City Improvement Trust warehouse  GlasgowScotlandWon competition (100 premium) and secured job
Item 2 of 691900(?)Dunoon Sheriff Court and County BuildingsDunoon ArgyllScotlandCompetition won and job secured prior to partnership
Item 3 of 691900Muslin Factory  GlasgowScotland 
Item 4 of 691900Restaurant and tea roomsLargs AyrshireScotland 
Item 5 of 691900Wireworks for W Riddell & Co  GlasgowScotlandBegun by John McKissack alone prior to partnership
Item 6 of 69After 1900Clydebank West UF ChurchClydebank DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 7 of 69After 1900Shop, Kilmarnock Road  GlasgowScotland 
Item 8 of 69After 1900Warehouse and officesBridgeton GlasgowScotland 
Item 9 of 69c. 1900London Road UF Church hall  GlasgowScotland 
Item 10 of 691902City Improvement Trust warehouse  GlasgowScotland 
Item 11 of 691903LangavatKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 12 of 691903Strathclyde Public School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 13 of 6919044th VBSR Headquarters  GlasgowScotland 
Item 14 of 691905(?)Eastern Co-operative Drapery BuildingParkhead GlasgowScotland 
Item 15 of 691906Boden Street Factory  GlasgowScotlandAddition
Item 16 of 691907Boden Street Factory  GlasgowScotlandBlock on the corner of Nuneaton Street
Item 17 of 691908Dunoon District Cottage HospitalDunoon ArgyllScotlandNew hospital
Item 18 of 691908Sawmill for A Bowie & Co  GlasgowScotland 
Item 19 of 691909Parkhead Congregtional Church HallsTollcross GlasgowScotland 
Item 20 of 691911Eastbank Public SchoolShettleston GlasgowScotland 
Item 21 of 691911Eastbank Public SchoolShettleston GlasgowScotland 
Item 22 of 691912Business premises for J T Whitelaw's Trust  GlasgowScotlandWith Duff. Conversion to cinema
Item 23 of 69c. 1912Electricity Substation  GlasgowScotland 
Item 24 of 69Before 1914SCWS buildingsShettleston GlasgowScotland 
Item 25 of 69Before 1914SCWS buildingsBarrhead RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 26 of 69Before 1914Wellshot Road School  GlasgowScotlandAdditional block on Altyre Street
Item 27 of 691916Eglinton ElectreumLaurieston GlasgowScotland 
Item 28 of 691919Picture HouseCowdenbeath FifeScotland 
Item 29 of 691925Vogue CinemaRutherglen LanarkshireScotland 
Item 30 of 691928Caley Picture House  EdinburghScotland 
Item 31 of 691929Broadway CinemaShettleston GlasgowScotland 
Item 32 of 691929Kingsway Cinema  GlasgowScotland 
Item 33 of 691930Cinema for Renfrew Pictures LtdRenfrew RenfrewshireScotlandRebuilding
Item 34 of 691930Cinema for Riddrie Cinema LtdRiddrie GlasgowScotland 
Item 35 of 691930Ross Dairy Ltd premises  GlasgowScotland 
Item 36 of 691931Cinema, 19 Lawn StreetPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandReconstruction and addtions
Item 37 of 691931Hillhead Picture House  GlasgowScotlandReconstruction
Item 38 of 691931Picture HouseStranraer WigtownshireScotland 
Item 39 of 691932Boulevard CinemaKnightswood GlasgowScotlandon 'Gushet corner' - this probably relates to a different site
Item 40 of 691932Commodore CinemaScotstoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 41 of 691932La Scala CinemaGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandReconstruction
Item 42 of 691932Regal cinemaPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandPerhaps submitted scheme which was not executed?
Item 43 of 691932Vogue Cinema  DundeeScotland 
Item 44 of 691933Cinematograph HouseGorgie EdinburghScotlandRebuilding incorporating parts of old Cinematograph House
Item 45 of 691933Empire Cinema  DundeeScotlandReconstruction
Item 46 of 691933Mecca CinemaPossil GlasgowScotland 
Item 47 of 691935Carlton CinemaDickson's Park, Piershill EdinburghScotland 
Item 48 of 691935Cinema near Granton RoadGranton  EdinburghScotland 
Item 49 of 691935Cranston's Picture House and Tea Rooms, Renfield Street  GlasgowScotlandReconstruction, including alterations to rake of floor
Item 50 of 691935Embassy Cinema  GlasgowScotland 
Item 51 of 691935Embassy CinemaTroon AyrshireScotland 
Item 52 of 691935St Roch's RC School  GlasgowScotlandExtension
Item 53 of 691936CinemaInveresk MidlothianScotland 
Item 54 of 691936CinemaSpringburn GlasgowScotlandAlthough 'Mackintosh' is given in 'Builder' it seesm much more likely that it is McKissack given that their address was 68 West Regent Street.
Item 55 of 691936Cinema, Hawthorn Street  GlasgowScotlandProposed
Item 56 of 691936Kyle CinemaIrvine RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 57 of 691936Picture HouseSpringburn GlasgowScotland 
Item 58 of 691936Regal CinemaMusselburgh MidlothianScotland 
Item 59 of 691936Vogue CinemaGovan GlasgowScotland 
Item 60 of 691937Aldwych CinemaCardonald GlasgowScotland 
Item 61 of 691937Tudor CinemaStockbridge EdinburghScotland 
Item 62 of 691938Baths, Leslie StreetPollokshields GlasgowScotlandProposal to convert baths into cinema
Item 63 of 691938Boulevard CinemaKnightswood GlasgowScotlandReconstruction as Vogue Cinema
Item 64 of 691938CinemaRenfrew RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 65 of 691938Cinema, Links StreetKirkcaldy FifeScotland 
Item 66 of 691938Cosmo cinema  GlasgowScotland 
Item 67 of 691938Riddrie Picture House  GlasgowScotland 
Item 68 of 691945William Rowan and Sons Limited Premises  GlasgowScotlandAlterations and Additions
Item 69 of 691948Hamilton Premises, Cathcart Road  GlasgowScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 2Scottish Biographies1938  E J Thurston (pub.) 
Item 2 of 2Walker, Frank Arneil1986South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew  p17

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Builder3 September 1915  Obituary of John p174
Item 2 of 2Glasgow Herald30 August 1915  Obituary of John

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers L v19 no 1435 (James McKissack)