Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Robert Douglas Sandilands |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||13 April 1854 |
|Died: ||11 December 1913 |
|Bio Notes: ||Robert Douglas Sandilands was born at Lesmahagow on 13 April 1854, the only son of Thomas and Jane Sandilands. The Sandilands family were saw-millers and joiners at Lintfield. Sandilands was educated at Netherton School and initially joined the family business. But on 1 March 1875, at the age of twenty-one, he was articled to Alexander Petrie in Glasgow, remaining with him until September 1880. There he worked alongside Ninian Macwhannell who was to remain a friend. |
While with Petrie, Sandilands won an honourable mention in the RIBA Silver Medal competition with survey drawings of Dunblane Cathedral and this may have helped him gain admission to the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris in October 1880, where he studied under Professor Julien Guadet and others until January 1885. He had to spend two years rather than one as a probationer, but after that he excelled, never receiving a valeur of less than 2.
When Sandilands returned from Paris he found employment with the Glasgow & South Western Railway and worked on the improvements to the Glasgow-Largs route, apparently working mainly on Paisley Gilmour Street and Crossmyloof stations, an appointment which he retained until 1888 for income. Two years earlier, in 1886, he was taken into partnership by John Thomson, the eldest surviving child of Alexander 'Greek' Thomson. The first few years of the partnership were spent on church competitions and on tenements, but on 1 November 1889 they won the competition for Gartloch Asylum, a vast complex which established the reputation of the practice, particularly in hospital design.
Although in the first few years Thomson was the lead partner at meetings, Sandilands gradually took over the practice. It was heavily dependent on competitions for business and except for a couple of exceptional houses the private client base remained relatively small and predominantly industrial. But by the time Thomson and Sandilands were admitted FRIBA on 11 June 1906 - Sandilands being proposed by John James Burnet, Thomas Lennox Watson, John Keppie and C J MacLean - they had carried out £1m of work since commencing practice in 1886, a very high figure for that date.
The practice suffered a decline in business after 1906, recovering only in 1910 when Sandilands won the competition for Hutcheson's Girls' School. But from 1898 money was of less concern: on 13 March of that year he had married an heiress, Isabella Blair Robertson, the daughter of textile manufacturer Joseph Robertson of Hazelwood, Lenzie. At first they lived in Sandilands's modest bachelor terrace house in Princes Square, Strathbungo, but in 1910 they acquired Kaimes House, at the junction of St Andrews Drive and Albert Drive, Pollokshields.
Sandilands was a member of the Merchants' House, the Gorbals Benevolent Society and the Society of Deacons and Free Preses. He was also a member of the Incorporation of Masons, of which he was appointed Deacon in 1903. 'The Baillie' described him as 'pleasant easy-going without any airs' and 'kind and considerate'.
Sandilands died on 10 December 1913. His moveable estate amounted to only £2,272 5s 6d, surprisingly modest for the volume of business handled. There were no children of his marriage: after Sandilands died Isabella took rooms in the Grand Hotel at Charing Cross. She died at Dumfries on 25 October 1925.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|c/o Ann Adam/8, Regent Park Square, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||1888 *||1891||Lodger|
|121, West Regent Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||Before 1888||After 1890|| |
|241, West George Street, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||Before 1896||1905 or 1906|| |
|4, Jane Street, Blythswood Square, Glasgow, Scotland||Business||1905 or 1906||After 1913|| |
|47, Princes Square, Strathbungo, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||Before 1906||1910|| |
|Kaimes House (or Kames House)/45, St Andrews Drive (junction with Albert Drive), Pollokshields, Glasgow, Scotland||Private||1910||1913|| |
* earliest date known from documented sources.
Employment and Training
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 Richard Fleming||Early 1885||1886(?)||Assistant||In Glasgow Paisley & Kilmarnock Railway offices|
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Mireylees, Suzanne||2005||In the shadow of Gartloch: The life and work of John Thomson & Robert Douglas Sandilands|| ||Unpublished PhD thesis, University of St Andrews|| |
|Post Office Directories|| || || || || |
|The following periodicals contain references to this architect:|
| ||Periodical Name||Date||Edition||Publisher||Notes|
|RIBA Journal||17 June 1914|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects||pp174-175 Obituary of Sandilands|
|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|| ||F v17 p51 no1122 (microfilm reel 12)|