Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Bell
Designation: Architect
Born: 1841
Died: After 1920
Bio Notes: James Bell was born in 1841 at Thornhill, Dumfriesshire, the son of Samuel Bell, and was educated privately. There is no record of where he served his apprenticeship but in the 1870s he was an assistant of MacGibbon and Ross's living in lodgings at 73 George Street Edinburgh a few doors away from their offices at no 89. Early in 1878 he would appear to have come into some money. He bought Gilmore House adjacent to MacGibbon and Ross's Upper Gilmore Place development in 1878, thereby enabling that street to be extended into Leamington Terrace where two particularly handsome Scots baronial tenements were built, the site being parcelled out between himself and two builders William Watson and John Lawrie. Thereafter he set up in practice as an architect and surveyor, first at Gilmore House and then at 8 Upper Gilmore Place, 1878 -80, but he remained associated with MacGibbon and Ross through the Edinburgh Heritable Estates Company in which they were among the major stockholders; they were involved together in developments at 17, 18 Maitland Street (now Shandwick Place, south-east side) in 1879. In 1880-83 Bell was in practice at 16 Viewforth Place and in 1883-85 at no 181 Princes Street.

Bell was also secretary of the Dunblane Hydropathic Company, of which the principal promoter had been John Dick Peddie. Poor trading and unpaid calls for capital resulted in the buildings and furnishings being poinded by The Standard Property Investment Company on 29 May 1884. This company then leased the hydropathic to Bell who gave up architectural practice to run it, probably in the hope of recovering it for the hydropathic company, but unpaid feu-duty brought about a judicial winding up in December. Bell retained his lease until March 1890 when he bought Craiglockhart Hydropathic for 12,800. He then re-founded Craiglockhart as the Edinburgh Hydropathic Company of which he became principal share-holder and managing director. The hydropathic was requisitioned as Craiglockhart War Hospital in 1917 and when returned to him in 1919, the decoration and services were in poor condition. Although he briefly re-opened it, at the age of 79 he was too old to face up to what was required. The company went into voluntary liquidation in 1920 when Bell sold the building to the Society of the Sacred Heart. He does not appear to have practised architecture at all in these later years as even the alterations he proposed at the hydropathic itself - not carried out - were designed by J M Dick Peddie.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 973, George Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivatec. 1870  
Item 2 of 9Gilmore House, Gilmore Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1878  
Item 3 of 98, Upper Gilmore Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18781880 
Item 4 of 916, Viewforth Place, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18801883 
Item 5 of 920, Barnton Terrace, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate18831884 
Item 6 of 9131, Princes Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness18831885 
Item 7 of 9Dunblane Hydropathic, Dunblane, Perthshire, ScotlandPrivate/business18841890 
Item 8 of 9Craiglockhart Hydropathic, Colinton Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business18901917 
Item 9 of 9Craiglockhart Hydropathic, Colinton Road, Edinburgh, ScotlandPrivate/business19191920 

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 1MacGibbon & Rossc. 1870 Assistant 

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 118781-20 Leamington Terrace  EdinburghScotland 


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4Eddington, A1904Contemporary BiographiesEdinburgh and the LothiansWT Pike and Co., Pike's New Century Series, no. 12p285
Item 2 of 4Smith, C J Historic South Edinburgh  v 2 p328 and v4 p263-64
Item 3 of 4Walker, David1984The Architecture of MacGibbon & Ross: The Background to the Books Breeze, David (ed.): 'Studies in Scottish Antiquity', Chapter 16, pp391-449pp412, 442-3
Item 4 of 4Walker, David W2002Peddie and Kinnear Unpublished PhD thesis, University of St Andrews, 2002Chapter 3