Basic Biographical Details

Name: Robertson & Orchar
Designation: Architectural practice, Engineers
Started: Before 1861
Bio Notes: Robertson & Orchar was a Dundee-based mill-engineer and textile machinery manufacturing partnership with an architectural department. It was founded in 1856 when William Robertson, born 1825 and a leading draughtsman in the engineering department at Baxter Brothers, and James Guthrie Orchar, also born 1825 and then draughtsman to Steele's Lilybank Foundry, took over the Wallace Foundry of the dissolved partnership of Kinmond Hutton & Steele. It was immediately successful, being commissioned to design and build J & A D Grimond's Bowbridge Works and John Smieton's Panmure Works at Carmoustie in the following year.

Mark WAtson writes: 'I have the impression that the majority of the new power loom factories put up in Angus and Fife in 1856- 1867 were by Robertson and Orchar. They have a distinctive appearance, often Italianate, and their ironwork also has give-away details: Polonceau trussed wrought iron and arched but not gothic cast iron roofs, garlic bulb capitals, power transmission from below floors, often from a basement if sited on a hill. After 1867 they were rivalled by Urquhart Lindsay and Co, but the factories made by the latter were more utilitarian'.

Robertson was active in municipal affairs. He became interim town councillor for Dundee's First Ward on the death of Baillie Foggie in 1869, and was elected to the seat in November. He quickly made his name by promoting the augmentation of the Monikie water supply from the Fithie Burn and the Crombie reservoir and strongly advocated the acquisition of the Loch of Lintrathen as a lasting solution to Dundee's water supply. He was however defeated on the route of the pipeline by Provost Yeaman, the latter's direct route proving to have too steep a fall as Robertson had predicted. In 1874 Robertson was elected a magistrate and from 1875 to 1878 he was provost. Thereafter he severed his connection with the Council but continued to play an active role in the affairs of the Royal Lunatic Asylum, Dundee Infirmary, the Mars Training Ship and Dundee High School to which he gifted the gymnasium and the technical workshops. Like his partner Orchar he was a significant art collector and a supporter of the building of the Victoria Art Galleries.

James Guthrie Orchar retired in 1896 and died on 14 May 1898. Robertson's health failed in the latter year. Although he resumed attending business in the spring of 1899, his health became too precarious for him to travel thereafter. He died at Balmore on 11 July 1899, survived by his wife Elizabeth Petrie, and was buried at the Western Cemetery in Dundee. The business was continued by the families (in Orchar's case his wife's, his son James Steel Orchar having predeceased him) and merged with Urquhart Lindsay & Co, founded 1867, as Urquhart Lindsay Robertson Orchar after the First World War.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice, engineers:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1Wallace Foundry, Brown Constable Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness1856c. 1917Thereafter Urquhart Lindsay Robertson Orchar, Blackness and Wallace Foundries, Dundee

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice, engineers (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3James Guthrie Orchar  Partner 
Item 2 of 3William RobertsonBefore 1861 Partner 
Item 3 of 3William Gauldie18971898AssistantYear in Architectural department

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice, engineers 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 351856Wallace Foundry  DundeeScotlandAlterations and extensive additions, including turning shop, 1871 and kilns and pattern shop 1882
Item 2 of 351857Bowbridge Works  DundeeScotlandNew buildings as specified in 'events'
Item 3 of 351857Panmure WorksCarnoustie AngusScotland 
Item 4 of 351860s(?)Albany Works, linen factoryDunfermline FifeScotlandOriginal factory
Item 5 of 351860sCanmore WorksDunfermline FifeScotland 
Item 6 of 351860s(?)Castlebrae WorksDunfermline FifeScotland 
Item 7 of 351860s(?)Pilmuir Linen WorksDunfermline FifeScotlandParts of the works
Item 8 of 351860 or 1870Linen WorksForfar AngusScotlandPossibly
Item 9 of 351861Seafield Works  DundeeScotland 
Item 10 of 351863Johnstone's FactoryEast Wemyss FifeScotland 
Item 11 of 351864Den Burn WorksBrechin AngusScotland 
Item 12 of 351864South Street worksForfar AngusScotland 
Item 13 of 35c. 1864Eden Valley Linen WorksFreuchie FifeScotland'Probably' (HS)
Item 14 of 351865Larchfield Works  DundeeScotland'Probably' (HS)
Item 15 of 351865Pleasance WorksFalkland FifeScotland 
Item 16 of 351867Canmore WorksForfar AngusScotlandAttribution by Mark Watson
Item 17 of 351867Marywell Brae WorksKirriemuir AngusScotland 
Item 18 of 351868Wallace WorksPerth PerthshireScotland 
Item 19 of 351869Gairie Linen WorksKirriemuir AngusScotland 
Item 20 of 351870St Margaret's WorksDunfermline FifeScotland 
Item 21 of 351872Caldrum Works  DundeeScotlandSpinning mill and factory
Item 22 of 351872Dundee Flour Mills  DundeeScotlandOffice and dwelling house
Item 23 of 351874The Victoria Road Calender  DundeeScotland 
Item 24 of 351874 or 1885Camperdown, Calender  DundeeScotlandDesigned the Calender machine (originally in Bowbridge Works) but mioved to Camperdown.
Item 25 of 351876Victoria Works (Castleblair Ltd)Dunfermline FifeScotland 
Item 26 of 351879Trades Lane Calender  DundeeScotlandAddition
Item 27 of 351882Caldrum Works  DundeeScotlandSheds extended to Main Street frontage. Bag factory and mechanics shop
Item 28 of 351883Jamaica Street powerloom factory  DundeeScotland 
Item 29 of 351886Trades Lane Calender  DundeeScotlandAdditions
Item 30 of 351887Caldrum Works  DundeeScotlandSheds extended to Main Street frontage
Item 31 of 351894Mid Wynd Works  DundeeScotlandCloth warehouses in Hawkhill
Item 32 of 351895Mid Wynd Works  DundeeScotlandFour powerloom sheds
Item 33 of 35Before 1898Unspecified worksKirkcaldy FifeScotland 
Item 34 of 351903Mid Wynd Works  DundeeScotlandPowerloom factory and warehouses
Item 35 of 351905Hillbank Linen Works  DundeeScotlandTrebled mill in size


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice, engineers:
Item 1 of 3Dundee Yearbook1898   Orchar
Item 2 of 3Dundee Yearbook1899   Robertson
Item 3 of 3Watson, Mark1990Jute and Flax mills in Dundee Tayport: Hutton Press Ltd 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice, engineers:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1The Piper of Dundee26 July 1899   

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice, engineers:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1West Yorkshire Archives, LeedsFairbarin, Lawson Combe Barbour Archive