Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Lessels and Harry Ramsay Taylor
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1890
Ended: c. 1905
Bio Notes: James Lessels (born c.1834) was the younger son and partner of John Lessels Senior, the elder brother John having gone into government service. When his father died in 1883, James inherited his father's interest in the practice and his appointment as architect to the City Improvement Trust. He worked in a very similar Scots Jacobethan style. He remained sole practitioner at 50 George Street until 1890 when he took Harry Ramsay Taylor into partnership, the office subsequently moving to 7a Young Street by 1901.

Taylor was born in Stranraer in 1863 or 1864, the son of Samuel H Taylor, an architect in practice there, and was in his father's office from 1878 until 1880 when he transferred to the Lessels practice in Edinburgh, remaining as an assistant until taken partnership. During that period he attended the School of Art, Heriot-Watt College and the University of Edinburgh and travelled in Belgium, England and Scotland, and just after commencing practice he visited Italy to study Venetian architecture.

Much of the work of the practice depended on the connection with Nelsons the publishers which had been established by John Lessels. When James Lessels retired or died c.1905 Taylor merged the practice with that of William Ormiston of Cousin & Ormiston as Cousin, Ormiston & Taylor, moving into Ormiston's office at 140 Princes Street, an event which marked the final conclusion to the long-standing links between the Cousin and Lessels practices. Taylor was admitted FRIBA on 3 December 1906, his proposers being Harold Ogle Tarbolton, Hippolyte Jean Blanc and Alexander Hunter Crawford.

Ormiston died c.1919 and Taylor on 14 November 1922. Dr A R B Haldane remembered him as a big man, very good with the Haldane children to whom he was known as 'Woolly Bear' because of his liking for big leather coats with fur collars.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 350, George Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness1890Before 1901 
Item 2 of 37a, Young Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1901c. 1905 
Item 3 of 3140, Princes Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1905  

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 5James Lessels1890c. 1905Partner 
Item 2 of 5Henry ('Harry') Ramsay Taylor1890c. 1905Partner 
Item 3 of 5William Salmond19001904Apprentice 
Item 4 of 5Robert Lyon19011903Apprentice 
Item 5 of 5William Salmond1904c. 1905Assistant 

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 2918903-37 Jeffrey Street  EdinburghScotlandBegun by Lessels assisted by Taylor; completed in partnership
Item 2 of 291890Grassmarket Mission HallOld Town EdinburghScotland 
Item 3 of 29After 1890CraigparkRatho MidlothianScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 4 of 29After 1890FosswellAuchterarder PerthshireScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 5 of 29After 1890Hawkshaw  PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 6 of 29After 1890ParsonageHaddington East LothianScotland 
Item 7 of 29After 1890Printing Works for Ballantyne, Hanson & Co    Additions
Item 8 of 29After 1890St Leonard's WorksParkside EdinburghScotlandAdditions
Item 9 of 29After 1890Stonefield House and estate  ArgyllScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 10 of 29After 1890The LodgeRatho MidlothianScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 11 of 291891Design for Free Library  EdinburghScotlandDesign exhibited - perhaps 1887 competition design for Edinburgh Central Library
Item 12 of 291891Tenement, 4-18 Jeffrey Street and 3-9 Cranston Street  EdinburghScotland 
Item 13 of 291893Nelson Hall and West Branch Library  EdinburghScotland 
Item 14 of 291897Boroughloch Brewery  EdinburghScotland 
Item 15 of 291897Warehouse for John Crabbie & CoLeith EdinburghScotlandFront warehouse
Item 16 of 291898Nelson HallStockbridge EdinburghScotland 
Item 17 of 291900Biscuit Factory, Slateford Road  EdinburghScotland 
Item 18 of 291900Falkirk Public LibraryFalkirk StirlingshireScotlandSecond premiated competition design (25 premium)
Item 19 of 291900Penicuik House stablesPenicuik MidlothianScotlandConversion of stables to new house
Item 20 of 291901Nelson Hall and Library  EdinburghScotland 
Item 21 of 291901Stirling Public LibraryStirling StirlingshireScotlandWon in competition
Item 22 of 291902Carnegie Public LibraryRutherglen LanarkshireScotlandSecond premiated competition design (Taylor responsible)
Item 23 of 291902Tenement, south corner of Nicolson Square and Nicolson Street  EdinburghScotlandReconstruction with half-timbered upperworks - Taylor responsible
Item 24 of 291903Bookshop for John Grant, Chambers Street and George IV Bridge  EdinburghScotlandInternal alterations and new building - Taylor responsible (completed 1906)
Item 25 of 291903Chambers Street  EdinburghScotlandCompletion (1906 - Taylor responsible), still conforming to original Cousin-Lessels design
Item 26 of 291903Maryhill Public LibraryMaryhill GlasgowScotlandCompetition design
Item 27 of 291904Cloan HouseAuchterarder PerthshireScotlandReconstruction
Item 28 of 29Before 1906Ferro-concrete factory  EdinburghScotland 
Item 29 of 29Before 1906MurdostounNewmains LanarkshireScotlandAdditions


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
Item 1 of 1Post Office Directories     

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from A R B Haldane