© All rights reserved. © Glasgow Institute of Architects 

Larger versions of these images are located at the foot of the page.

Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Lamb Murray
Designation: Architect
Born: 1838
Died: 1908
Bio Notes: John Lamb Murray was born in 1838, probably near Biggar where his forebears had farmed since the 17th century. Murray himself was a minor landed gentleman, owning the estates of Heavyside and Stains. His original profession appears to have been that of landsurveyor, acting as factor for several larger landowners in the Biggar area. As architect and as civil and mechanical engineer he was entirely self taught, particular specialisms being water power and electric lighting: he was also very musical, buildings a large pipe organ in his workshop at Heavyside and installing it in his house where it was powered by the dam.

Lamb commenced architectural practice from the estate office at Heavyside in or shortly before 1879 when he engaged a particularly able pupil of Pilkington & Bell, Henry Francis Kerr, as his assistant. This enabled him to undertake the commission for the large extension to the County Buildings at Hamilton for the Commissioners of Supply, some of whom would be clients of Lamb in his capacity as factor. Kerr left in 1881 to commence practice on his own account in Edinburgh, but the practice continued to flourish undertaking sizeable country houses at Culterallers and Hartree, schools and a bunkhouse in Lanark as well as the usual run of estate work.

In the years 1886-1888 Lamb maintained an Edinburgh office at 3 Castle Street a move which may have been related to his son Thomas Blackwood Murray, born 22 April 1871, studying engineering at the University of Edinburgh under Professor P G Tait where he graduated BSc in 1890, patenting his very successful design for a water turbine speed governor in the same year. Thomas gained experience with the Edinburgh electrical engineers King Brown & Co and with Rankin, Kennedy & Co in Glasgow before setting up in independent practice as a consulting engineer, working part of the time with his father in electric lighting installations, his main important commission being the power supply at Powderhall refuse works for Edinburgh Corporation where the heat generated by the destructors was used to raise steam in the boilers. After a study visit to Germany he was appointed installation manager at the Glasgow firm of Mavor & Coulson, his work in his fatherís firm then becoming that of consultant.

In 1886 Latto Alexander Morrison became John Lamb Murrayís articled apprentice in the architectural side of the practice and in 1890 the recently formed Lanarkshire Lunacy Board commissioned Lamb to design the £150,000 asylum at Shotts. The results of the aborted 1885 competition for the previous board remaining set aside. The project kept the practice very busy indeed until 1895. In the following year John Lamb Murray became a pioneer motorist, buying a 3hp Panhard Levasseur, a development which related to his sonís concurrent involvement with George Johnstonís Mo-Car Syndicate at Mosesfield where Murray was allocated the task of designing an electric car but was defeated by the limitations of the batteries then available.

In 1899 Thomas Blackwood Murray and another member of the Mo-Car Syndicate, Norman Fulton, left to found the Albion Motor Car Company in a Clan Line workshop at Finnieston. John Lamb Murray provided the necessary capital, in part by mortgaging Heavyside for £1500. The firm then had seven employees but some of the parts for the cars were machined by John Lamb Murray in his workshops at Heavyside. He bought the first engine produced at Finnieston to augment the water power at his Heavyside workshops and bought the second car produced by the firm which he and his chauffeur drove to London.

John Lamb Murray took his assistant Latto Alexander Morrison into partnership in his architectural practice in 1898, the practice title then becoming Murray & Morrison.

He retired in 1905, Morrison continuing the practice thereafter under his own name only. Lamb died in 1908, having lived to see Albion extend its business into motor-lorries and move to much larger premises in Scotstoun. He left the then very substantial moveable estate of £11,344 as well as his two estates. His wife Janet Findlay Murray had predeceased him in 1876 but he was survived by his son Thomas and four daughters. A stained glass window in memory of Lamb and his wife, designed by Ballantine & son, was erected in Biggar Parish Church two years after his death.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2Heavyside, Biggar, Lanarkshire, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1886After 1905 
Item 2 of 23, Castle Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusinessc. 1886c. 1888 

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 1Murray & Morrison18981905Partner 

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 3Henry Francis Kerr18791881(?)Assistant 
Item 2 of 3Latto Alexander Morrison1886c. 1891Apprentice 
Item 3 of 3Latto Alexander Morrisonc. 18911898Assistant 

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 10 Public HallLaw near Carluke LanarkshireScotlandNo date
Item 2 of 10After 1879Culterallers House  LanarkshireScotland 
Item 3 of 10After 1879Hartree HouseBiggar PeeblesshireScotland 
Item 4 of 10After 1879SchoolsLanark LanarkshireScotland 
Item 5 of 10c. 1882County Hall and Sheriff Court Houses and County Police OfficeHamilton LanarkshireScotlandNine bay block to Almada Street (accommodation for Court Officials) with Henry Francis Kerr as assistant
Item 6 of 101887Commercial Bank of Scotland, LanarkLanark LanarkshireScotland 
Item 7 of 101889 or 1890(?)Hartwood AsylumShotts LanarkshireScotlandAppointed for job (though he was not one of the 10 architects asked to prepare plans for the 1885 competition)
Item 8 of 101892Free ChurchSt Abbs BerwickshireScotland 
Item 9 of 101893Lady Hozier Convalescent HomeLanark LanarkshireScotland 
Item 10 of 101896Biggar ManseBiggar LanarkshireScotlandPlan


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Lambie, Brian1971Thomas Blackwood Murray, Scottish Motor Pioneer Biggar Museum Trust 
Item 2 of 3Post Office Directories     
Item 3 of 3Slaven, A and Checkland, S1986Dictionary of Scottish Business Biography 1860-1960Vol 1: The Staple IndustriesAberdeen: Aberdeen University PressVolume 1 pp263-265

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builder23 January 190996 p99 - obituary - CHECK
Item 2 of 3Scotsman3 April 1909  p11
Item 3 of 3Scotsman2 May 1910  p9

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 Additional research by Iain Paterson


© All rights reserved. © Glasgow Institute of Architects 

© All rights reserved. © Glasgow Institute of Architects