© All rights reserved. © courtesy of Glasgow Institute of Architects © All rights reserved. The Bailie 18 June 1890 or 20 January 1897 (Courtesy of Iain Paterson) 

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Thomson
Designation: Architect
Born: 1835
Died: 12 February 1905
Bio Notes: James Thomson was born in Glasgow in 1835, the son of Hugh Thomson, builder and Jane Hosie. He was articled to James Brown of Brown and Carrick c.1850. When Brown inherited the estate of Currie and the partnership was dissolved, Thomson appears to have secured a place in the office of John Baird 'Primus', but there may have been an intervening employer as his RIBA nomination paper gives no details. He was certainly the effective designer in Baird's practice from late 1855 onwards because of Baird's recurrent mental illness and probably had a significant hand in the design of the Iron Building in Jamaica Street, designed earlier in that year.

Baird took Thomson into partnership in 1858, but the firm did not adopt the style of Baird & Thomson until after Baird died on 18 December 1859, when Thomson inherited the practice. The delay was probably to avoid confusion with the recently dissolved partnership of John Baird the Second and Alexander Thomson, but the retention of Baird's name after 1859 was not only a matter of continuity but of distinguishing the practice from that of another James Thomson in West Nile Street. Thomson briefly continued Baird's experiments in cast-iron facades with McConnal patent beams in the early 1860s but thereafter his practice, which was amongst the very largest in Scotland, focused on commercial architecture, pioneering the concept of large city office blocks with shops built for rental. These tended to be an astylar Italian Renaissance which became richer in details in the early 1890s, if somewhat repetitive in composition. He was admitted FRIBA on 3 June 1878, his proposers being John Honeyman, John Burnet and Charles Barry Junior.

Thomson was an active member of the Glasgow Institute of Architects and served as their president from 1882-1884.

Thomson died on 12 February 1905 at 30 Lynedoch Street, Glasgow of syncope following a gastric haemorrhage resulting from hepatic cirrhosis, and was buried in Glasgow Necropolis (Section Epsilon, lair 444). He left moveable estate of £41,792 1s 4d. He had been twice married: firstly to Isobel (or Isabella) Miller Aitken, and secondly to Margaret Elizabeth Aitken from Torphichen. He had three children from his first marriage: a daughter, Isobel Thomson (born c. 1868), and two architect sons, James Baird Thomson (born in 1869 or 1870) and William Aitken Thomson (born 1871), both of whom trained in his practice and were made partners in May 1899.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 7109, Hope Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1860 *  
Item 2 of 7175, Hope Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1860After 1865 
Item 3 of 7201, West George Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 18681877 
Item 4 of 711, West Regent Street, Glasgow, Scotland(?)Business(?)Before 1869(?)After 1875(?)Uncertain
Item 5 of 788, Bath Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1877After 1905 
Item 6 of 7Allan Park, Innellan, Argyll, ScotlandPrivate1888 1888 PO Directory gives both Allan Park and 30 Lynedoch Street as residences
Item 7 of 730, Lynedoch Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1888After 19051888 PO Directory gives both Allan Park and 30 Lynedoch Street as residen

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 3Brown & Carrickc. 18491854Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3John Baird 'Primus' (John Baird I)1854c. 1858AssistantBecame partner in 1858
Item 3 of 3Baird & Thomsonc. 18581905Partner 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 6Robert Lockhart McCowat18741878Apprentice 
Item 2 of 6Robert Lockhart McCowat18781879Improver 
Item 3 of 6James Baird Thomson1887c. 1892(?)Apprentice 
Item 4 of 6William Aitken Thomson18881892Apprentice 
Item 5 of 6William Aitken Thomson18921899Assistant 
Item 6 of 6James Baird Thomsonc. 18921899Assistant(?) 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Charles Barry (junior)3 June 1878for Fellowship
Item 2 of 3(Sir) John James Burnet3 June 1878for Fellowship
Item 3 of 3John Honeyman3 June 1878for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 2George Bell I16 December 1878for Fellowship
Item 2 of 2Robert Lockhart McCowat5 December 1898for Fellowship

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 118 Carbrook House   ScotlandDate unknown
Item 2 of 118 Montgomerie Drive  GlasgowScotlandLayout only - date unknown
Item 3 of 1181857Breacachadh New Castle CollArgyllScotlandMainly responsible as Baird in decline by this date - crenallations added to the central block and the wings.
Item 4 of 1181858Crown Circus  GlasgowScotlandIn partnership
Item 5 of 118c. 1858Victoria Terrace  GlasgowScotland 
Item 6 of 1181859British Linen Bank, West George Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 7 of 1181859Commercial building, 138-140 West George Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 8 of 1181859(?)Gartsherrie Offices  GlasgowScotland 
Item 9 of 1181859(?)Manchester Assize Courts  ManchesterEnglandPossibly submitted competition design - unplaced
Item 10 of 1181860sAshton Terrace  GlasgowScotland 
Item 11 of 1181861Greenock Provident BankGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 12 of 1181862Premises, 94 High StreetPaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 13 of 1181863217-221 Argyle Street  GlasgowScotlandWith Robert McConnell, ironfounder
Item 14 of 1181864Gallowflat HouseRutherglen LanarkshireScotlandAdditions
Item 15 of 1181865(?)City PoorhouseCraiglockhart EdinburghScotlandSecond premiated competition design (£100 premium) - unclear whether this James Thomson or James Thomson of West Nile Street
Item 16 of 1181866Belhaven Terrace East  GlasgowScotlandNos 1-16
Item 17 of 1181867Wellpark School  GlasgowScotlandHamilton is not certain about this.
Item 18 of 11818701-12 Princes TerraceDowanhill GlasgowScotland 
Item 19 of 1181870Belhaven Terrace West  GlasgowScotland 
Item 20 of 1181870Glasgow Convalescent HomeLenzie Dunbartonshire/LanarkshireScotland 
Item 21 of 1181871Orr Ewing Building, West George Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 22 of 1181871Tenements with shops, Bridgeton Cross  GlasgowScotland 
Item 23 of 1181872City of Glasgow Bank Branch  GlasgowScotland 
Item 24 of 1181873Crown TerraceDowanhill GlasgowScotlandNos 3-11
Item 25 of 1181873Warehouse, 26-34 Argyle Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 26 of 1181874Abraham Hill's Trust School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 27 of 1181874Queen's Park Free Church and hall  GlasgowScotlandThis may be the other James Thomson (West Nile Street)
Item 28 of 11818751 and 5-8 Queen's Gardens  GlasgowScotland 
Item 29 of 1181875Hozier Street SchoolBridgeton GlasgowScotlandAdditions
Item 30 of 1181875Hunter Barr and Co's Premises  GlasgowScotland 
Item 31 of 1181875Thomson Street School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 32 of 1181876101-103 St Vincent Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 33 of 1181876Dovehill School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 34 of 1181876Offices and shops, 130-136 St Vincent Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 35 of 1181877Crossmyloof School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 36 of 1181877Kirklee Gardens  GlasgowScotland 
Item 37 of 1181878Garnethill SchoolGarnethill GlasgowScotland 
Item 38 of 1181878MacLean's Hotel  GlasgowScotland 
Item 39 of 1181878Scottish Union and National Insurance, West George Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 40 of 1181879Royalty Theatre and Commercial Premises  GlasgowScotlandDesigned complex of commercial premises comprising offices and warehouses over shops.
Item 41 of 118188071-79 Buchanan Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 42 of 1181880Crown TerraceDowanhill GlasgowScotlandNos 12-17
Item 43 of 1181880Grand Hotel, Charing Cross  GlasgowScotland 
Item 44 of 118c. 188078-82 Union Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 45 of 1181882Sick Children's Dispensary  GlasgowScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 46 of 1181883Balfunning HouseBalfron StirlingshireScotlandHouse and probably East Lodge and stable
Item 47 of 118c. 18831-9 Marlborough Terrace  GlasgowScotland 
Item 48 of 1181884Tenement, Cadder Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 49 of 118August 1884Rhu Parish ChurchRhu/Row DunbartonshireScotlandReported on storm damage and advised shortening the pinnacles of the tower.
Item 50 of 1181885111-113 West Regent Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 51 of 1181885Hartwood AsylumShotts LanarkshireScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 52 of 118c. 1885Gartshore HouseTwechar DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 53 of 118c. 1885Lorraine Gardens  GlasgowScotland 
Item 54 of 1181886Belmont CastleMeigle PerthshireScotlandReconstruction and extension of late-18th-century castellated house after fire; interior fitted out with French boiseries by decorators from Paris; new stable court built
Item 55 of 1181886Tenement, Forth StreetPollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 56 of 1181886Tenement, Forth StreetPollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 57 of 118188771-79 Buchanan Street  GlasgowScotlandPartial rebuilding, and addition of attic
Item 58 of 1181887Tenement, Cadder Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 59 of 118188816 Buchanan Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 60 of 11818892 Lilybank Terrace  GlasgowScotlandBilliard room
Item 61 of 1181889Shop and warehouse for Matthew Pettigrew  GlasgowScotland 
Item 62 of 1181890Birkwood HouseLesmahagow LanarkshireScotlandAlterations and addition of new wing
Item 63 of 1181890Logan School of Domestic Economy  GlasgowScotland 
Item 64 of 1181890North British Insurance (Assurance) Office  GlasgowScotland 
Item 65 of 1181890Standard Life Buildings  GlasgowScotland 
Item 66 of 118c. 1890Royal Glasgow Asylum for the Blind  GlasgowScotlandWorkshops, school and residential blocks
Item 67 of 1181891British Linen BankWhiteinch GlasgowScotland 
Item 68 of 1181891Crossbasket HouseHigh Blantyre LanarkshireScotlandAdditions
Item 69 of 1181891Glasgow Necropolis, Monument to Charles Clark MacKirdyDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 70 of 1181891Schaw Convalescent HomeBearsden GlasgowScotland 
Item 71 of 1181892Clydesdale BankDumfries DumfriesshireScotland 
Item 72 of 1181892St Saviour's Episcopal Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 73 of 118189365 Carlton Place  GlasgowScotlandConversion to bank
Item 74 of 1181893Campbell's Music Salon  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 75 of 1181893Lightburn Infectious Deseases Hospital  GlasgowScotland 
Item 76 of 1181894Beaconsfield  GlasgowScotlandAdditions - including tower
Item 77 of 1181894Kinnaird HouseLarbert StirlingshireScotland 
Item 78 of 1181894St George's Church Hall, 25 Bath Street  GlasgowScotlandHall added
Item 79 of 1181894Winton BuildingsAyr AyrshireScotlandAlterations
Item 80 of 1181895Four tenements, Blackburn Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 81 of 1181895Overtoun House, West Lodge and gatepiersDumbarton DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 82 of 1181895Woodfield Mansion House  Edinburgh (near)Scotland 
Item 83 of 118c. 1895Glasgow Necropolis, Monument to Neilson of ArnewoodDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 84 of 1181896Five tenements, Blackburn Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 85 of 1181896Lancashire Insurance Company Offices, West George Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 86 of 1181896Lesmahagow Cemetery, Monument to the late General David Elliot MacKirdyLesmahagow LanarkshireScotland 
Item 87 of 1181897Clydesdale BankPaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 88 of 118Before 1897Auchinraith HouseBlantyre LanarkshireScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 89 of 118Before 1897Buildings for the Old Man's Friend Society  GlasgowScotland 
Item 90 of 1181898Asphalt Works  GlasgowScotlandLarge brick block added
Item 91 of 1181898Building for William Connall & Co  GlasgowScotlandIn partnership
Item 92 of 1181898Cambridge Buildings, 202-212 Sauchiehall Street  GlasgowScotlandIn partnership
Item 93 of 1181898Clydesdale Bank  GlasgowScotlandGround floor rebuilt
Item 94 of 1181898Drymen Parish ChurchDrymen StirlingshireScotlandAlterations
Item 95 of 1181898Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901Kelvingrove GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - unplaced (it is unclear whether this James Thomson or another was responsible)
Item 96 of 1181898Kilmaronock ChurchKilmaronock DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations, including refurnshing
Item 97 of 1181898Muirhead & Company, 200 Sauchiehall Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 98 of 1181898New Factory, 110-112 Ingram Street and Montrose Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 99 of 1181898St Vincent Chambers  GlasgowScotland 
Item 100 of 1181899Clydesdale BankGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandIn partnership
Item 101 of 1181899Clydesdale BankStirling StirlingshireScotlandJames Baird Thomson mainly responsible
Item 102 of 1181899Dumbarton Municipal BuildingsDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandIn partnership
Item 103 of 1181899Liverpool London and Globe Insurance Office  GlasgowScotland 
Item 104 of 118After 1899Buildings for the Old Man's Friend Society  GlasgowScotlandAdditions and alterations
Item 105 of 118After 1899Clydesdale BankBeith AyrshireScotland 
Item 106 of 118After 1899Clydesdale BankCastle Douglas KirkcudbrightshireScotland 
Item 107 of 1181900Bridgegate Parish Church  GlasgowScotlandDesign made. In partnership
Item 108 of 1181900Feuing plan of Mirrlees estateKelvinside GlasgowScotlandIn partnership
Item 109 of 1181900Glasgow Royal Infirmary  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - unplaced
Item 110 of 1181900Great Western Hotel and TerraceOban ArgyllScotlandAlterations and installation of lift (with electric motor house at rear of hotel)
Item 111 of 1181900Standard Life Buildings  GlasgowScotlandMinor alterations
Item 112 of 1181902Clydesdale BankDunfermline FifeScotlandIn partnership
Item 113 of 1181902UF Church HallDumbarton DunbartonshireScotlandChurch hall and link to church
Item 114 of 1181903North British Hotel  GlasgowScotlandAlterations and top floor. In partnership
Item 115 of 1181904Clydesdale BankBo'ness / Borrowstouness West LothianScotlandIn partnership
Item 116 of 1181904Tobacco Warehouse, James Watt Street  GlasgowScotlandAdditions - new Brown Street façade
Item 117 of 1181905Clydesdale BankAlloa ClackmannanshireScotlandAlterations - in partnership
Item 118 of 1181905Clydesdale BankLarbert StirlingshireScotlandAddition - in partnership


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4Dixon, Roger and Muthesius, Stefan1978Victorian Architecture London: Thames & Hudson 
Item 2 of 4Gomme, Andor and Walker, David1987Architecture of GlasgowSecond revised ednLondon: Lund Humphries 
Item 3 of 4Post Office Directories     
Item 4 of 4Worsdall, Frank Victorian City   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 4Builder18 February 1905v88 p 186 - obituary
Item 2 of 4Glasgow Herald14 February 1905  Obituary
Item 3 of 4The Bailie18 June 1890   
Item 4 of 4The Bailie20 January 1897   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Information from Fiona Sinclair and from research by Iain Paterson


© All rights reserved. © courtesy of Glasgow Institute of Architects 

© All rights reserved. © courtesy of Glasgow Institute of Architects

© All rights reserved. The Bailie 18 June 1890 or 20 January 1897 (Courtesy of Iain Paterson) 

© All rights reserved. The Bailie 18 June 1890 or 20 January 1897 (Courtesy of Iain Paterson)