Basic Biographical Details

Name: J & W Smith
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1845
Ended: 1879
Bio Notes: John Smith was born in 1781, the son of William Smith, architect and builder, Aberdeen. Of the father little is recorded except that he was known as 'Sink'em'; that he had his workshop in Longacre; that he designed and built Gilcomston Chapel of Ease and the houses at the bottom end of Marischal Street, all in Aberdeen. It is not known exactly when he died but it appears to have been between February and November 1812. The son is said to have been sent at an early age to the office of James Playfair (or perhaps he assisted him in some junior capacity at the building of Cairness, Aberdeenshire, but neither the Playfair diary nor the Gordon minutes provide any evidence of it). He cannot have worked long for Playfair who died in 1794, and it is not known which London office he was in thereafter. Around 1804 he returned to Aberdeen with an extensive collection of plans and was nearly lost as his ship entered Aberdeen Harbour in a storm. Circa 1805 Smith designed his first major work in Aberdeen, a large house on Union Street for Patrick Milne of Crimonmogate. Two years later Smith succeeded Thomas Fletcher as engineer to the King Street, Union Street and Union Terrace works and laid out St Nicholas Street to connect it with George Street. By 1860 he had produced the first accurate survey of Aberdeen which was published in the same year. Thereafter he built up the largest business both in architecture and building and cabinet-making in the north-east, with headquarters at his house at 142 King Street, Aberdeen. He was associated with Thomas Telford on the harbour improvements planned from 1824 and was formally appointed superintendent of work for the City of Aberdeen in that same year. In that capacity he attended to such matters as street lighting, cleansing and executions (which are said to have brought gloom to the Smith household for weeks). He was also agent for the Imperial Insurance Company.

John died at Rosebank Hardgate, a pleasant 18th-century mansion with a large garden which he inherited from his father-in-law. He had married Margaret Grant, only child of Colonel George Grant of Auchterblair in Banffshire, a marriage which brought useful landed connections, their first home being at Longacre adjacent to the elder William Smith's house and builder's yard. Near contemporary accounts record that she was tall good-looking and aristocratic in demeanour which a family portrait appears to confirm. Smith himself was 'a shy retiring man as well as an able and diligent official'.

Most members of their family died early but his son William joined the practice after graduating MA at Marischal College and subsequently sought experience in London with Thomas Leverton Donaldson. He appears to have returned to Aberdeen by 1842 and was made a partner in 1845. His eldest daughter Margaret Grant Smith (died 1857) married Alexander Gibb, the civil engineer, on 17 March 1831. Some biographical details will be found in Lettice Milne Rae's 'Story of the Gibbs.'

John Smith's work was in his early years almost exclusively refined neo-Greek, but from 1820 onwards most of his churches and large houses were Tudor Gothic, the latter sometimes with Scottish features as at Balmoral from about 1830. These were closely modelled on William Burn's style with which he had become acquainted at Robert Gordon's, Fintray and Auchmacoy.

Brief biographical notices with short lists of principal works compiled by John's son William appeared in the Aberdeen Journal' in July 1852, in 'The Builder' and in the 'Architectural Publication Society's Dictionary'. A great many informative references to his career in Aberdeen will be found in G M Frazer's biography of Archibald Simpson (1790-1847), which appeared as a serial in the 'Aberdeen Weekly Journal' of 1918. A collected copy of these articles is available at Aberdeen Public Library. A fragmentary list of plans and some of his accounts (1807-1832) are in the National Monuments Record of Scotland.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1Aberdeen, ScotlandBusiness   

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 5John Smith1845 Senior Partner 
Item 2 of 5William Smith II18451879Partner 
Item 3 of 5Alexander Ellis18461851Apprentice 
Item 4 of 5John Smith IIc. 1867c. 1872Apprentice 
Item 5 of 5John Smith IIc. 18721879Assistant(?) 

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 124 Edgehill House  AberdeenScotlandDate unknown
Item 2 of 1241845Fraserburgh PrisonFraserburgh AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 3 of 1241845Haddo HouseHaddo/Methlick AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 4 of 1241845Huntly Police Office PrisonHuntly AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 5 of 124c. 1845Haddo Estate, LodgesHaddo AberdeenshireScotland'Probably' (HS)
Item 6 of 124c. 1845Haddo House, Butler's Cottage, Gardener's Cottage and LaundryMethlick AberdeenshireScotlandLaundry
Item 7 of 124c. 1845Leochel Cushnie ManseLeochel Cushnie AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 8 of 124c. 1845MansePeterhead AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 9 of 1241846Kincardine O'Neil ChurchKincardine O'Neil AberdeenshireScotlandRepairs
Item 10 of 1241846Mains of Haddo, farmhouse and officeHaddo AberdeenshireScotlandIf 1845 may be by Smith
Item 11 of 1241846Tarland ManseTarland AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 12 of 1241846Trinity Hall  AberdeenScotlandOriginal building
Item 13 of 1241847Auchaber ManseForgue AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 14 of 1241847Auchiries SchoolCruden AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 15 of 1241847Bogbrae SchoolCruden Aberdeenshire?Scotland 
Item 16 of 1241847Cluny SchoolCluny AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 17 of 1241847Forgue Free ManseForgue AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 18 of 1241847Haddo Estate, monument terminating avenue east south east of houseHaddo AberdeenshireScotland'Probably' (HS)
Item 19 of 1241847King Street Iron Works  AberdeenScotland 
Item 20 of 1241847Kirkville HouseSkene AberdeenshireScotlandAdditions
Item 21 of 1241847Learney House  AberdeenshireScotlandAdditions
Item 22 of 1241847Tarves ManseTarves AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 23 of 124c. 1847Haddo Estate, gates on avenue (the 'golden gates')Haddo AberdeenshireScotland'Probably' (HS)
Item 24 of 1241848Balmoral IBalmoral AberdeenshireScotlandLarge unexecuted scheme for remodelling and enlargement
Item 25 of 1241848Savoch of Deer ManseSavoch of Deer AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 26 of 1241849Badentoy Mansion House and OfficesBanchory KincardineshireScotland 
Item 27 of 1241849Balmoral Castle, ice house  AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 28 of 1241850Balmoral Castle, venison larderBalmoral AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 29 of 1241850Bridge of Dyce  AberdeenshireScotlandRebuilding
Item 30 of 1241850Fintray School and SchoolhouseFintray AberdeenshireScotlandAddition to schoolhouse
Item 31 of 124c. 1850Inchmarlo House  KincardineshireScotlandAddition of third storey
Item 32 of 124c. 1850KirkhillOld Meldrum / Oldmeldrum AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 33 of 124c. 1850Learney House  AberdeenshireScotlandPotting shed
Item 34 of 124c. 1850Logierieve HousePitmedden AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 35 of 124c. 1850Waterton HouseEllon AberdeenshireScotlandOn stylistic grounds from similarity to Logierieve.
Item 36 of 1241851Balmoral Castle, pony stables  AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 37 of 1241851Fintray ManseFintray AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 38 of 1241851Udny Manse and OfficesUdny AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 39 of 1241852Balmoral CastleBalmoral AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 40 of 1241852Medico-Chirurgical Society Hall  AberdeenScotlandAdditions
Item 41 of 1241852Rathen Manse and OfficesRathen AberdeenshireScotlandReconstruction
Item 42 of 124Before 1852173 Union Street  AberdeenScotland 
Item 43 of 124Before 1852Blackhall CastleBanchory (near) KincardineshireScotlandAlterations to previous house on the same site
Item 44 of 124Before 1852Brucklay Bridge over the water of Fedderate  AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 45 of 124Before 1852Drumside House   Scotland 
Item 46 of 124Before 1852Footdee RopeworksFootdee AberdeenScotland 
Item 47 of 124Before 1852House for Baillie Stewart on Union Street  AberdeenScotlandPossibly involved
Item 48 of 124Before 1852House for Gavin Hadden at Union Grove  AberdeenScotlandPossibly involved
Item 49 of 124185360-62 Bon Accord Street  AberdeenScotland 
Item 50 of 1241853Alexander Scott's HospitalHuntly AberdeenshireScotlandOriginal building
Item 51 of 1241853House at GovalDyce AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 52 of 1241854Town and County BankStonehaven KincardineshireScotland 
Item 53 of 1241855Clarence Street Extension, Waterloo Quay to St Clement Street  AberdeenScotland 
Item 54 of 1241855Echt Parish ManseEcht AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 55 of 1241855Savoch of Deer SchoolSavoch of Deer AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 56 of 1241857Union BankFraserburgh AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 57 of 1241858Aberdeen Town and County BankAlford AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 58 of 1241858City of Glasgow Bank  AberdeenScotland 
Item 59 of 1241859Drummuir Home FarmDrummuir BanffshireScotland 
Item 60 of 1241859Dunecht House (including chapel)Echt AberdeenshireScotlandLarge additions
Item 61 of 1241859Larachmore HouseStrachan KincardineshireScotland 
Item 62 of 1241860Alexander Scott's HospitalHuntly AberdeenshireScotlandWest wing
Item 63 of 1241860Anderson InstituteLerwickMainlandShetlandScotlandWilliam Smith II responsible
Item 64 of 1241860Educational InstituteLerwickMainlandShetlandScotland 
Item 65 of 1241860Methlick ManseMethlick AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 66 of 1241860St Fergus ManseSt Fergus AberdeenshireScotlandAdditions
Item 67 of 1241861Brig O' Balgownie over the River Don  AberdeenScotlandRepairs
Item 68 of 1241861Old Meldrum Parish ChurchOld Meldrum / Oldmeldrum AberdeenshireScotlandAdditions - mainly in south aisle
Item 69 of 1241862Aberdeen Municipal Buildings and Tolbooth  AberdeenScotlandCompetition design for court house by William Smith II - not successful
Item 70 of 1241862Balmoral Castle, Dairy and Dairy CottagesBalmoral AberdeenshireScotlandSeveral revisions of Beaton scheme made. Smith advertised for contractors
Item 71 of 1241862Findrack HouseLumphanan AberdeenshireScotlandAdditions
Item 72 of 1241864Offices for Northern Agricultural Lime Company  AberdeenScotland 
Item 73 of 1241864Pumping station of Aberdeen Water WorksPeterculter AberdeenshireScotlandWilliam Smith II responsible
Item 74 of 1241865Aberdeen Joint Passenger Station  AberdeenScotland 
Item 75 of 1241865Alexander Scott's HospitalHuntly AberdeenshireScotlandRestoration
Item 76 of 1241865Cottage for Manson of KilbleanOld Meldrum / Oldmeldrum AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 77 of 1241865Gilcomston Free ChurchGilcomston AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 78 of 1241867Aberdeen Town and County BankLumphanan AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 79 of 1241867Crathie ManseCrathie AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations and additions (or a different manse?)
Item 80 of 1241867Insch Town and County bankInsch AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 81 of 1241868Alexander Scott's HospitalHuntly AberdeenshireScotlandAdditions
Item 82 of 1241868East Prison  AberdeenScotlandAdditional floor
Item 83 of 1241868Rathen Parish ChurchRathen AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 84 of 1241869Boys' and Girls' Hospital  AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 85 of 1241869Peterhead Court HousePeterhead AberdeenshireScotlandTook over commission from Peddie & Kinnear
Item 86 of 1241869Tarland Parish Church (St Moluag)Tarland AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 87 of 1241869Woodside manseWoodside AberdeenScotland 
Item 88 of 1241870Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum  AberdeenScotlandEast wing
Item 89 of 1241870Eight Houses on Abbey Road for fishermenTorry AberdeenScotland 
Item 90 of 1241871Aberdeen Harbour, North Pier  AberdeenScotlandHarbour buildings
Item 91 of 1241871Aberdeen Royal Infirmary  AberdeenScotlandFever wards
Item 92 of 1241872Garthdee House with East and West gatelodgesPeterculter AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 93 of 1241872Lodge in New Public Park  AberdeenScotland 
Item 94 of 1241873Three Houses on Pilot's SquareFootdee AberdeenScotland 
Item 95 of 1241874South SquareFootdee AberdeenScotlandWest side raised
Item 96 of 1241874Tullynessle ChurchTullynessle AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 97 of 1241875Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum  AberdeenScotlandAdditions
Item 98 of 1241875Barthol Chapel ChurchTarves AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 99 of 1241875Causewayend SchoolOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotland 
Item 100 of 1241875Church at FerryhillFerryhill AberdeenScotland 
Item 101 of 1241875Norton HouseKincardine O'Neil AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations
Item 102 of 1241875Old Meldrum SchoolOld Meldrum / Oldmeldrum AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 103 of 1241875Rosemount Church  AberdeenScotland 
Item 104 of 1241875St Nicholas Church  AberdeenScotlandTower and spire, restoration of aisles
Item 105 of 1241875St Nicholas East Parish Church  AberdeenScotlandReconstruction after fire
Item 106 of 1241875Strachan SchoolStrachan KincardineshireScotland 
Item 107 of 1241875Theatre, Marischal Street  AberdeenScotlandConversion of theatre to church
Item 108 of 1241875Turriff Parish ChurchTurriff AberdeenshireScotlandNew belfry
Item 109 of 1241876Belhelvie Parish SchoolBelhelvie AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 110 of 1241876Finzean SchoolFinzean AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations
Item 111 of 1241876Lumphanan SchoolLumphanan AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 112 of 1241876Slains Manse, with offices, doocot and gatepiersKirktown of Slains AberdeenshireScotlandOffices etc also probably by Smith
Item 113 of 1241876Tulloch School  Aberdeenshire?Scotland 
Item 114 of 124187733-37 Union Street and Exchange Court  AberdeenScotlandReconstruction
Item 115 of 1241877Auchterless Parish ChurchAuchterless AberdeenshireScotlandNew church incorporating parts of older building - John Smith II mainly responsible, as assistant
Item 116 of 1241877Auchterless Parish ChurchyardAuchterless AberdeenshireScotlandGatepiers - 'probably' (HS)
Item 117 of 1241877Belhelvie Parish ChurchBelhelvie AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 118 of 1241877Echt Parish ManseEcht AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations to dining room and drawing room
Item 119 of 1241877Old Meldrum Town HallOld Meldrum / Oldmeldrum AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations - 'Buildings of Scotland' suggsts new build by Smiths
Item 120 of 124Before 1877Porte cochere from Dunecht reerected as garden ornamentLoch Skene AberdeenshireScotlandWilliam Smith II responsible
Item 121 of 124c. 1877Brig O' Balgownie over the River Don  AberdeenScotlandRepairs - with John Willet
Item 122 of 124c. 1877Parish ManseKirkton of Slains AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 123 of 1241878House in South Stocket Road  AberdeenScotland 
Item 124 of 1241878Parish ManseOldmeldrum AberdeenshireScotlandEnlargement


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 1APSD The Dictionary of Architectureed Wyatt PapworthThe Architectural Publication Society (8v 1852-1892) 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Aberdeen JournalJuly 1852  Obituary of John
Item 2 of 2Aberdeen Weekly Journal1918  See G M Frazer's biography of Archibald Simpson (appeared serially)

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSJohn Smith Papers (List of Plans and accounts)