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Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Charles Gourlay |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||31 March 1865 |
|Died: ||20 June 1926 |
|Bio Notes: ||Charles Gourlay was born in Edinburgh on 31 March 1865, the son of Charles Gourlay and his wife Ann Ingram Clark. 'Early in life' he came to Glasgow with his parents and was apprenticed as a joiner for two years whilst studying in the Architecture department at the Glasgow School of Art. In 1881 he began a second apprenticeship of three years to Duncan McNaughtan, taking evening classes at Glasgow High School. On completion of this apprenticeship he worked as a draughtsman with James Chalmers (then Chalmers & Robson) for two years. He was awarded the Glasgow Architectural Association prize for measured drawings and sketches in 1886, and in the same year obtained a Teacher's Certificate from the South Kensington Science & Art Department and commenced teaching. He passed the qualifying examination and was admitted ARIBA on 13 June 1887, his proposers being Thomas Lennox Watson, John Honeyman and William Forrest Salmon. |
Gourlay commenced independent practice in Glasgow in 1888, and in the same year was appointed lecturer in building construction at Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College. He began with forty-two students but the numbers quickly rose to nearly five hundred, even after turning away fifty to one hundred students each year. The demands of this position proved such that he chose to give up architectural practice two years later to devote himself wholly to teaching, and his work in this field was so successful that in 1895 he was appointed to the first Chair of Architecture and Building at the Glasgow School of Architecture (it did not have that formal title until 1904), which had been created in the previous year from courses at the School of Art and Technical College, his colleagues at Glasgow School of Art being Professor Alexander McGibbon and William James Anderson. From 1904 the architecture and building course at the Technical College was merged with those at Glasgow School of Art as the Glasgow School of Architecture under Professor Eugène Bourdon. As before Gourlay taught construction at the Technical College while design was taught at the School of Art.
In parallel with his architectural teaching Gourlay founded the Architectural Craftsmen's Society in 1896, of which he was honorary president; and concurrently he read science on a part-time basis and graduated BSc in 1899 or 1900.
Gourlay had strong antiquarian interests particularly in respect of Glasgow Cathedral. Although he did not publish much on the subject he was one of the protagonists in the Chalmers-Watson-Honeyman disputes on the Lower Church, believing he had located the Lady Chapel. He travelled extensively on the continent, particularly in France, Germany, Italy, Greece, Asia Minor and Turkey, articles appearing in the RIBA Journal on 'Salonika - the Ancient Thessalonica' (November 1906), 'The minor Byzantine churches of Constantinople (August 1907), 'The Parthenon' (September 1908), 'The great Church of St Sophia, Constantinople' (July 1914), and a number of English and French cathedrals. It was during their travels that he married Helen Mary Ramsay in Constantinople in 1905.
Gourlay's other publications were all related to his teaching. The first, written at the request of Arthur Cates, appeared in the RIBA Journal on 29 September 1892, and was followed by 'The teaching of architecture' (1896), 'Elementary building construction and drawing for Scottish students' (1903), 'The construction of a house' (1910, revised 1922), 'The Italian orders of architecture' (1916).
Of Gourlay McGibbon wrote that 'the claims of his calling as a teacher obsessed him to the exclusion of recreation or hobby; he was indeed the most conscientious of instructors, patient and painstaking to a fault… never too robust, in later life his health was indifferent'. William James Smith, later Professor, called Gourlay 'Pa' though A G Lochhead was too respectful to use the nickname.
Gourlay was admitted to the Glasgow Institute of Architects in 1893, and served on the Council of that organisation. He was admitted FRIBA in 1921, proposed by Alexander Nisbet Paterson, John Keppie and William Brown Whitie, who wrote that 'no one in Scotland has done more than Professor Gourlay to establish and improve the standard of Architectural education'. His last years were, however, clouded by being passed over for the appointment of Head of School in succession to Bourdon with whom he had had a happy relationship. This first happened in 1920 when Edward Grigg Wylie was appointed, again in 1921 when James Black Fulton was appointed and yet again in 1922 when Thomas Harold Hughes was appointed. This caused him some annoyance, and with Hughes he had a particularly bad relationship which the Governors resolved by giving Gourlay a written description of his duties setting out the extent of Hughes's authority.
Gourlay died after an operation on 30 June 1926, survived by a daughter, his wife having died six years earlier in 1920. A memorial was erected in St Paul's Outer High Church, designed by William James Smith.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|Edinburgh, Scotland||Private||1865||Before 1879||Place of birth|
|43, Park Road, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||1887 *||After 1888|| |
|102, Bath Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1888 *||1889|| |
|92, Park Road, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||1894 *|| || |
|2 Oakvale, Gibson Street, Hillhead, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||1899|| || |
|30, Hamilton Drive, Hillhead, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||Before 1909||After 1914|| |
|Coniston, Craigdhu Road, Milngavie, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||Before 1921||After 1924|| |
* 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):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|Duncan McNaughtan||1881||1884||Apprentice|| |
|Chalmers & Robson||1885||1887||Assistant|| |
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|James Campbell Reid||1897||1901||Assistant|| |
|Joseph Wilson||1913||After 1919||Assistant||With the exception of war service|
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Ferguson, H C S|| ||Glasgow School of Art: the history|| || || |
|Post Office Directories|| || || || || |
|Who's Who in Architecture||1914|| || || || |
|Who's Who in Architecture||1923|| || || || |
|Who's Who in Glasgow||1909|| || || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|Builder||9 July 1926|| || ||Obituary|
|Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College Mag||February 1911||v3, no5|| || |
|RIBA Journal||9 July 1926|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects||Obituary by McGibbon p542|
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Professor David M Walker personal archive||Professor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material|| ||Additional research by Iain Paterson|
|RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert Museum||RIBA Nomination Papers|| ||A v9 p137 (microfiche 38/B2); F no1856 (microfilm reel 15)|
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