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:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 6c/o Ann Adam/8, Regent Park Square, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1888 *1891Lodger
Item 2 of 6121, West Regent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1888After 1890 
Item 3 of 6241, West George Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 18961905 or 1906 
Item 4 of 64, Jane Street, Blythswood Square, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1905 or 1906After 1913 
Item 5 of 647, Princes Square, Strathbungo, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 19061910 
Item 6 of 6Kaimes House (or Kames House)/45, St Andrews Drive (junction with Albert Drive), Pollokshields, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate19101913 

* 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 3Alexander Petrie1 March 1875September 1880Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3Glasgow and South Western RailwayJanuary 18851886Assistant 
Item 3 of 3Thomson & Sandilands18861913Partner 

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 1James Richard FlemingEarly 18851886(?)AssistantIn Glasgow Paisley & Kilmarnock Railway offices


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 4(Sir) John James Burnet11 June 1906for Fellowship
Item 2 of 4John Keppie11 June 1906for Fellowship
Item 3 of 4C J MacLean11 June 1906for Fellowship
Item 4 of 4Thomas Lennox Watson11 June 1906for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This architect proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 5James Austen Laird20 July 1911for Licentiateship
Item 2 of 5Alexander Gairns Laskie24 June 1912for Licentiateship
Item 3 of 5Ninian Macwhannell3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 4 of 5John Andrew ReidLate 1910for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 5William McNicol Whyte24 June 1912for Licentiateship

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 44 Leith PoorhouseLeith EdinburghScotlandAssessor for competition
Item 2 of 441887Terraced house, Kenmure Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 3 of 441888Design for a villa     
Item 4 of 441888Lanark Fever HospitalLanark LanarkshireScotland 
Item 5 of 441888Tenement for W & J Brown  GlasgowScotland 
Item 6 of 441888UP ChurchGlenluce WigtownshireScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 7 of 44After 1888Tenement for John Shand  GlasgowScotland 
Item 8 of 441889City of Glasgow District Asylum for Pauper LunaticsGartcosh GlasgowScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 9 of 441889Design for a school     
Item 10 of 441889Stirling High SchoolStirling StirlingshireScotlandCompetition design- possibly not considered as not meeting the Stirling area residential test
Item 11 of 441891Whithorn UP ChurchWhithorn WigtownshireScotland 
Item 12 of 441892Workshop for Alexander Stewart  GlasgowScotland 
Item 13 of 441893Old Parish ChurchNairn NairnshireScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 14 of 441894Royal Insurance Company Building  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design submitted - design selected and secured job.
Item 15 of 441895RhuadsgeirPollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 16 of 441895St James Board SchoolCalton GlasgowScotland 
Item 17 of 441897Govan Town Hall and Municipal BuildingsGovan GlasgowScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 18 of 441898Ardrossan and Saltcoats Infectious Diseases HospitalArdrossan AyrshireScotlandCompetition design - placed third
Item 19 of 441898Bangour Village AsylumUphall West LothianScotlandCompetition design for asylum - not successful, though was awarded a premium
Item 20 of 441898Four semi-detached housesNewlands GlasgowScotland 
Item 21 of 441899Cartwright Memorial HallBradford YorkshireEnglandCompetition design
Item 22 of 441899Springburn & Cowlairs District HallsSpringburn GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - placed second
Item 23 of 44c. 1899Stobhill HospitalSpringburn GlasgowScotlandSecond premiated competition design (150 premium), but awarded commission
Item 24 of 441900Eastern District Hospital  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - not successful (placed second)
Item 25 of 441900Glasgow Royal Infirmary  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - placed second
Item 26 of 44Late 1900 or early 1901Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design submitted after invitation - unsuccessful
Item 27 of 441901Netherton of CormistonBiggar LanarkshireScotland 
Item 28 of 441901Parish Council Offices  GlasgowScotland 
Item 29 of 441902FisherwoodBalloch DunbartonshireScotlandUnexecuted design?
Item 30 of 441902Possil Park Paint Works  GlasgowScotland 
Item 31 of 441903St Columba's ChurchGovan GlasgowScotland 
Item 32 of 441904Govan Combination Poorhouse and AsylumGovan GlasgowScotlandNurses' home and two additional ward blocks
Item 33 of 441904Manchester Royal Infirmary: Oxford Road site  ManchesterEnglandCompetition design for extension - not successful
Item 34 of 441904Oil Works  GlasgowScotland 
Item 35 of 441904Warehouses for the City Improvement Trust  GlasgowScotlandMay be earlier date i.e. 1901 - see Builder reference
Item 36 of 441906Mitchell Library  GlasgowScotlandCompetition entry - not successful
Item 37 of 441907Birmingham Council House extension and Art Galleries  BirminghamEnglandCompetition design for extension - not successful
Item 38 of 441907Perth Town HallPerth PerthshireScotlandCompetition design - unsuccessful
Item 39 of 441908Stables, cattle and sheep pens for Brechin Brothers  GlasgowScotland 
Item 40 of 441910Hutchesons' Girls' School  GlasgowScotlandWon in competition
Item 41 of 441912Commercial building, 32-34 Queen Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 42 of 441912Erskine UF Church and HallBattlefield GlasgowScotlandNew church hall built and used as temporary church; church itself remained unexecuted
Item 43 of 441912Queen's Park Higher Grade School  GlasgowScotlandConstruction begun - left incomplete
Item 44 of 441912Warehouse for Simons Jacobs & Co and extension  GlasgowScotlandUpper floor of Brunswick Street section and new building after fire at 87-89 Candleriggs


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Mireylees, Suzanne2005In the shadow of Gartloch: The life and work of John Thomson & Robert Douglas Sandilands Unpublished PhD thesis, University of St Andrews 
Item 2 of 2Post Office Directories     

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Journal17 June 1914 London: Royal Institute of British Architectspp174-175 Obituary of Sandilands

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Additional research by Iain Paterson
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v17 p51 no1122 (microfilm reel 12)