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Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Kelly
Designation: Architect
Born: 22 December 1861
Died: 10 March 1944
Bio Notes: William Kelly was born in Aberdeen on 22 December 1861, the son of Francis Bonnyman Kelly, a tailor and outfitter, and his wife Jane Tough, daughter of James Tough, tenant farmer at Mains of Drum. He never sought membership of the RIBA and as a result our knowledge of his early career is somewhat sketchy. He was educated at William Rattray's School in North Silver Street and attended King's College 1876-78, principally to study mathematics and natural philosophy. In May 1878 he was articled to William and John Smith and on the completion of his articles in May 1883 he sought wider experience in London, William Smith's open reference describing him as having 'gentlemanly manners' and being 'steady diligent and obliging'; he was also an 'exceptionally good draughtsman'. Of the several offices Kelly worked in while in London, only John James Stevenson's has been identified. In 1885 he made a study tour of the French chateaux and visited Spain and Holland.

Kelly returned to commence independent practice in Belmont Street in 1886 and, following John Smith's death on 11 April 1887, declining health induced William Smith to invite William Kelly to become his partner. The partnership was dissolved late in 1890 or early 1891, probably because of Smith's failing health, as the firm name was retained. In 1893 Kelly married Mary, eldest daughter of George Carmichael, bank agent in Aberdeen, thus becoming the brother-in-law of the architects Charles and Duncan Carmichael.

In 1896 Kelly had an important competition win when John James Burnet selected him as architect of Aberdeen Savings Bank, the business of which he retained thereafter; and in 1902 he took into partnership his chief assistant James Brown Nicol, born c.1867. Nicoll was articled to Alexander Marshall Mackenzie in 1883-88, where he worked under the supervision of the ablest of Mackenzie's assistants, Alexander Mackintosh. In 1889 after a further year in Mackenzie's office he moved to Edinburgh to gain wider experience first with James Bow Dunn in 1889-90 and then with Sydney Mitchell & Wilson as chief assistant from 1890 until 1891 when he returned to Aberdeen as Kelly's assistant. Nicoll published 'Domestic Architecture in Scotland', a survey of contemporary work, in 1908.

Kelly was elected ARSA in 1911 and had the degree of LLD conferred upon him by the University of Aberdeen in 1919, mainly in recognition of his work at King's College Chapel. He held the post of newly created Aberdeen Corporation Director of Housing from 1918-23, the first to do so.

He retired from the practice in 1928, but remained consultant architect to Viscount and Lady Cowdray, doing much work on the Dunecht estate and consolidating and partly restoring Dunottar Castle in association with his lifelong friend the historian and antiquary Dr W Douglas Simpson. Simpson described him as 'endowed with commanding height, a fine leonic head and a rich resonant voice… His tall figure and rapid walk made him noticeable among Aberdonians of his time. Men with shorter legs found it trying to come down Albyn Place with him in the morning'. He was active in 'choral singing' and 'a good player of both piano and organ, always reading from the old-fashioned tonic sol-fa system and scarcely ever from the conventional staff notation' but his main interests were antiquarian.

On 28 June 1941, at the age of seventy-nine, Kelly had a bad fall at home and broke his thigh. Thereafter he was confined to bed: Simpson recalled that 'those who visited [him] will never forget his bed-ridden figure with full and silken white beard…his eyes sparkling with fun or wistful reminiscence'. He continued his sketches in bed from books and photographs, assisting Simpson with his book on Glenbuchat and the Rhind lectures on the Province of Mar, published in 1942. He died on 10 March 1944 and was buried in Springbank Cemetery. He left the then very substantial moveable estate of £22,458 8s 4d, and was survived by his wife, three sons none of whom pursued architecture as a career, and a daughter. Some of his relatively few papers were published by Simpson as a tribute to him from the University of Aberdeen after his death. His name is atill familiar to Aberdonians through the 'Kelly's cats' on the parapets of Union Bridge. There has been a debate as to whether Kelly actually designed the leopards, or whether it was Sidney Boyes, the sculptor who designed the bronze panels on either side of the bridge but Kelly used a similar leopard on the savings bank in Union Terrace and sketches of the actual finials are in the Kelly Archive in Aberdeen University. Kelly's great-niece, writing in 'The Leopard' relates how during rag week, the students decided to tie ribbons around the leopards' necks. Drwrath knew no bounds and the ribbons were ordered to be removed, but in doing so, the nickname 'Kelly's cats' were born.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 4Belmont Street, Aberdeen, ScotlandBusiness1886  
Item 2 of 444, Belgrave Terrace, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivateAfter 1886  
Item 3 of 4367, Union Street, Aberdeen, ScotlandBusiness19101951 
Item 4 of 462, Rubislaw Den North, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate1930 *After 1939(?) 

* 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 5W & J SmithMay 18781883Apprentice 
Item 2 of 5John James StevensonAfter May 18831885Assistant 
Item 3 of 5W & J Smith and Kelly1887After 1897Partner 
Item 4 of 5Kelly & Nicol19021941Partner 
Item 5 of 5Aberdeen City Architect's Department (later City of Aberdeen District Council Architects Division)January 1920April 1923Architect 

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 3James Henry Wallacec. 1890c. 1895Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3James Buyers Scott18911899ApprenticePart of the time as assistant.
Item 3 of 3James Brown Nicol18911902Senior Assistant 

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 148 Glenbuchat Lodge  AberdeenshireScotlandRestoration and enlargement at rear - date unknown
Item 2 of 1481886Maryculter Old ChurchMaryculter KincardineshireScotlandRestoration
Item 3 of 1481887Aberdeen Royal Infirmary  AberdeenScotlandNew ward block - carried out work
Item 4 of 1481887House for William Falconer  AberdeenScotland 
Item 5 of 1481887Villa with tower at CorseCorse AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 6 of 1481890Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum  AberdeenScotlandNew hospital section
Item 7 of 1481890Boys' and Girls' Hospital  AberdeenshireScotlandExtensions
Item 8 of 148c. 1890Kepplestone Cottage  AberdeenScotlandExtension
Item 9 of 1481892Causewayend SchoolOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandEnlargement
Item 10 of 1481892High School for Girls  AberdeenScotlandAdditions to south
Item 11 of 1481892MayenRothiemay AberdeenshireScotlandProduced schedule of quantities and specifications - unclear if he or Mackenzie did the work
Item 12 of 1481892North Church  AberdeenScotlandAlterations
Item 13 of 1481892Triple Kirk churches  AberdeenScotlandCentral doorway in former South Free Church.
Item 14 of 1481893Aberdeen Royal Infirmary  AberdeenScotlandAddition of single storey kitchen block between wings on north side
Item 15 of 1481893Auchterless Parish ChurchAuchterless AberdeenshireScotlandPlans for tower
Item 16 of 148189562 Rubislaw Den North  AberdeenScotland 
Item 17 of 1481895House for J Ogilvy  AberdeenScotland 
Item 18 of 1481895House for John Ellis  AberdeenScotland 
Item 19 of 1481895House for Martin Lewis  AberdeenScotland 
Item 20 of 148189630 Rubislaw Den South  AberdeenScotland 
Item 21 of 1481896Aberdeen National Savings Bank  AberdeenScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 22 of 1481896Montrose Asylum, Carnegie HouseHillside, Montrose AngusScotlandDesigned asylum block; carried out by John Sim
Item 23 of 148189757-65 Union Street  AberdeenScotlandGabled dormers and balustraded parapet added
Item 24 of 1481897Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum  AberdeenScotlandAdditions
Item 25 of 1481897Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum  AberdeenScotlandLodge on Cornhill Road
Item 26 of 1481897Old Meldrum Parish ChurchOld Meldrum / Oldmeldrum AberdeenshireScotlandInstallation of organ
Item 27 of 1481897Premises of William Falconer, draper  AberdeenScotland 
Item 28 of 1481897St Ninian's ChurchMile End AberdeenScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 29 of 1481897Two houses, John Street  AberdeenScotland 
Item 30 of 1481897Two houses, John Street  AberdeenScotland 
Item 31 of 1481897Villa, 12 Carden Place  AberdeenScotlandAlterations with new Italian Renaissance front
Item 32 of 1481897Warehouse for Thomas Ogilvie & Son  AberdeenScotland 
Item 33 of 148Before 1897Aberdeen Royal Infirmary Convalescent HomeCults AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 34 of 1481898Duthie Park, Gordon Highlanders obelisk memorial  AberdeenScotland 
Item 35 of 1481898Free East Church  AberdeenScotlandAlterations
Item 36 of 1481898St Nicholas Church, St Mary's Crypt under East Church  AberdeenScotlandRestoration including furnishings and new font
Item 37 of 148189936 and 38 Rubislaw Den South  AberdeenScotland 
Item 38 of 1481899Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum  AberdeenScotlandAdditions- major remodelling
Item 39 of 1481899Gilcomston Free ChurchGilcomston AberdeenshireScotlandScreen and pulpit probably designed by Kelly
Item 40 of 1481899Lochhead Villa  AberdeenScotlandAlterations
Item 41 of 1481899New Market and the layout of Market Street  AberdeenScotlandAlterations
Item 42 of 1481900367 Union Street  AberdeenScotlandAlterations and new buildings
Item 43 of 1481900House, Carden Place  AberdeenScotlandReconstruction
Item 44 of 1481900Triple Kirk churches  AberdeenScotlandGround floor windows in former East Church.
Item 45 of 148After 1900Music Hall  AberdeenScotlandLarge additions
Item 46 of 1481901Dickson Memorial HallLaurencekirk KincardineshireScotland 
Item 47 of 1481901House, Rubislaw Den North  AberdeenScotland 
Item 48 of 1481901Premises for Messrs J & A Ogilvie  AberdeenScotlandReconstruction - shopfront and interiors
Item 49 of 1481901Premises or house for C J Davidson  AberdeenScotland 
Item 50 of 1481901St George's-in-the-West  AberdeenScotlandHall and vestry
Item 51 of 1481902Demonstration School  AberdeenScotland 
Item 52 of 1481902House for Thomas Ogilvie  AberdeenScotland 
Item 53 of 1481902Lower Banffshire Joint Infectious Diseases HospitalPortsoy BanffshireScotland 
Item 54 of 1481902Morningfield Hospital for Incurables  AberdeenScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 55 of 1481902Society of Friends Meeting House  AberdeenScotland 
Item 56 of 148After 1902Aberdeen Royal Infirmary  AberdeenScotlandExtension
Item 57 of 148After 1902Business premises  AberdeenScotland 
Item 58 of 148After 1902Jubilee HospitalHuntly AberdeenshireScotlandExtension
Item 59 of 148After 1902Moy HouseForres MorayshireScotlandAlterations and reconstruction
Item 60 of 148After 1902Woodend HouseBanchory Ternan AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations and reconstruction
Item 61 of 1481903Abernethy's Lodge  AberdeenScotland 
Item 62 of 1481903Banff District Asylum, Troup/LadysbridgeBanff BanffshireScotlandSeparate villa for male patients (Mayfield Villa)
Item 63 of 1481903Mackie AcademyStonehaven KincardineshireScotlandAddition of wings
Item 64 of 1481903Property for W Smith  AberdeenScotland 
Item 65 of 148c. 1903Invery HouseStrachan AberdeenshireScotlandRestoration and alterations - including later addition of south range beyond the pavilion
Item 66 of 1481905Langley, 25 Forest Road  AberdeenScotlandAdditions
Item 67 of 1481905Tertowie HouseKinellar AberdeenshireScotlandWing added
Item 68 of 1481905The GablesStonehaven KincardineshireScotland 
Item 69 of 148c. 190569 Don StreetOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandRestoration
Item 70 of 1481906Aberdeen Savings Bank  AberdeenScotland 
Item 71 of 1481906Fife Arms HotelBraemar AberdeenshireScotlandWest wing rebuilt
Item 72 of 1481907Carron CottageStonehaven KincardineshireScotlandInterior work including mantelpiece
Item 73 of 1481907Memorial to James FergusonRothiemay AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 74 of 1481907Robert Gordon's CollegeSchoolhill AberdeenScotlandReport on plan and proposals for new building/reconstruction
Item 75 of 1481907St Mary's Parish ChurchEllon AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations, including panelled and stencilled timber ceiling and the dado.
Item 76 of 1481907Tilquhillie Cottage   Scotland 
Item 77 of 148After 1907Union Street and King Street and Union Bridge  AberdeenScotlandRailings (or parapets)
Item 78 of 1481909Seabank Rescue Home  AberdeenScotlandAdditions
Item 79 of 1481909Tudor LodgeStonehaven KincardineshireScotlandConflict of information. Stonehaven Journal gives Coutts as architect. Kelly information from owner in 1960s.
Item 80 of 1481910Culter HousePeterculter AberdeenshireScotlandRestoration of interiors
Item 81 of 1481910Gordon SchoolsHuntly AberdeenshireScotlandAddition of Higher Grade School
Item 82 of 1481911Kildrummy UF ChurchKildrummy AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 83 of 1481911Strathbogie Free ChurchHuntly AberdeenshireScotlandRestoration - with T G Archibald
Item 84 of 1481912Huntly Public SchoolHuntly AberdeenshireScotlandSecondary department added
Item 85 of 1481912Mar LodgeBraemar AberdeenshireScotlandBurial vault under altar
Item 86 of 1481912New Market and the layout of Market Street  AberdeenScotlandPermanent shops on market floor
Item 87 of 1481913St Mary's Episcopal Church  AberdeenScotlandClergy stalls
Item 88 of 1481913Villa, 86 Queen's Road  AberdeenScotlandAlterations
Item 89 of 1481914Harlaw MemorialHarlaw AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 90 of 1481914Kintore Parish Church and manseKintore AberdeenshireScotlandChancel added and interior reordered
Item 91 of 148c. 1914Chapel of Garioch Parish ChurchChapel of Garioch AberdeenshireScotlandGallery level windows - probably by Kelly & Nicol
Item 92 of 148c. 1918Birse and Feughside Parish ChurchFinzean AberdeenshireScotlandFirst World War memorial tablet. Cut by SirJames Taggart.
Item 93 of 148c. 1918Murtle HousePeterculter AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations
Item 94 of 1481919Marnoch Parish ManseMarnoch BanffshireScotlandEntrance front extended by one bay, alterations to front and and windows on ground floor
Item 95 of 1481919New Market and the layout of Market Street  AberdeenScotlandAlterations to Market Building
Item 96 of 1481920sDunecht Estate, Cottages including The Terrace and Greentree LodgeEcht AberdeenshireScotlandFurther enhancements
Item 97 of 1481920Memorial to the Seventh GordonsBanchory KincardineshireScotland 
Item 98 of 148c. 1920Aberdeen Grammar School, War MemorialDenburn AberdeenScotland 
Item 99 of 148c. 1920Banff War MemorialBanff BanffshireScotland 
Item 100 of 148c. 1920Dyce War MemorialDyce AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 101 of 148c. 1920Torry Housing SchemeTorry AberdeenScotlandActed as consultant with Maclennan
Item 102 of 148c. 1920War MemorialBirse AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 103 of 1481921Ardoe House  AberdeenshireScotlandPorch (attribution)
Item 104 of 148After 1921Kinnaird Castle, with stables and lodgeBrechin AngusScotlandRestoration after fire
Item 105 of 1481922Balmoral Castle, war memorialBalmoral Aberdeenshire  
Item 106 of 1481922King's College Chapel, University War Memorial  AberdeenScotland 
Item 107 of 1481922Longside Parish Church and war memorialLongside AberdeenshireScotlandWar memorial
Item 108 of 1481922St Clement's Episcopal Church  AberdeenScotland'only a small part of the design built'
Item 109 of 1481922St James Episcopal ChurchCruden Bay AberdeenshireScotlandAltar
Item 110 of 1481922St Nicholas Church  AberdeenScotlandWar memorial - set into front of west gallery
Item 111 of 1481923North of Scotland Bank  AberdeenScotlandAlterations
Item 112 of 1481923Raemoir House  AberdeenshireScotlandRestoration
Item 113 of 1481923St James Episcopal Church  AberdeenScotlandAltar and war memorial reredos
Item 114 of 1481923War MemorialBanchory KincardineshireScotland 
Item 115 of 148c. 1923Rowett Institute, Reid Library and cattle shedsBucksburn AberdeenScotlandCarved panel over door.
Item 116 of 1481923 or 1926Keith Cottage HospitalKeith BanffshireScotlandFurther additions (Buildings of Scotland gives 1923- Richardson 1926)
Item 117 of 1481924Dunecht House (including chapel)Echt AberdeenshireScotlandSome internal remodelling and redecoration of chapel; western gates (some undertaken by Kelly in private capacity after his retirement), Main gates in Dunecht Village
Item 118 of 1481924Glass Parish ChurchGlass AberdeenshireScotlandMemorial to Sir William Bridge
Item 119 of 1481924Kirkville HouseSkene AberdeenshireScotlandRemodelling including large inglenook fireplace
Item 120 of 1481925BridgendDunecht Village AberdenshireScotlandLate 18th century cottages remodelled with thatched roofs.
Item 121 of 1481925Dunecht Estate, BridgendEcht AberdeenshireScotlandReconstruction with thatched roofs
Item 122 of 1481925Dunecht, Estate Offices and HallEcht AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 123 of 1481925Dunnottar Castle  KincardineshireScotlandConsolidation and partial re-roofing
Item 124 of 1481925Dunnottar Castle Lodge  KincardineshireScotland 
Item 125 of 1481927College of Nursing Club and house at no 1 Fonthill Road  AberdeenScotlandAdditions to Club
Item 126 of 1481927East Lochside SteadingSkene AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 127 of 1481927Raemoir House  AberdeenshireScotlandGabled east wing and interior woodwork
Item 128 of 148After 1927Echt Churchyard, Monument to Viscount CowdrayEcht AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 129 of 148Before 1927Hospital for Sick Children  AberdeenScotland 
Item 130 of 148c. 1927Turin HouseRescobie AngusScotlandRebuilding on higher site
Item 131 of 1481928Church, Regent Quay  AberdeenScotland 
Item 132 of 148After 1928Castle Fraser  AberdeenshireScotlandRestoration work - left unfinished
Item 133 of 148After 1928Fitzalan Chapel, memorial to Cardinal HowardArundel SussexEngland 
Item 134 of 1481929King's College, war memorial  AberdeenScotland 
Item 135 of 1481930sSavings BankHolburn AberdeenScotlandMay have had some hand in this but partly retired
Item 136 of 1481930Birse CastleBirse AberdeenshireScotlandExtension and restoration
Item 137 of 1481930Echt Parish ChurchEcht AberdeenshireScotlandCommunion table and remodelling
Item 138 of 148c. 1930Aberdeen Lunatic Asylum  AberdeenScotlandExtensions
Item 139 of 1481931East Lochside FarmhouseSkene AberdeenshireScotlandWith David Morris
Item 140 of 1481931King's College, founder's tomb  AberdeenScotlandComposite piece including brass plate by Kelly
Item 141 of 148February 1931King's College Chapel  AberdeenScotlandRestoration of east window - as consultant after his retirement, new butresses, stalls, desks, restoration of NE window at apse. Medieval pulpit partly reconstructed
Item 142 of 1481932The NeukEcht AberdeenshireScotlandFormed into two houses (by the Cowdray Estate Office from plans by Kelly)
Item 143 of 148c. 1933St Germain-en-Laye, Monument to Viscountess Cowdray  Ile de FranceFrance 
Item 144 of 148c. 1935Allenvale Cemetery  AberdeenScotlandMonuments to William Kelly's parents, Francis Bonnyman Kelly and Jane Tough
Item 145 of 1481936University of Aberdeen Students' Union  AberdeenScotland 
Item 146 of 14819373 ChanonryOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandSketch designs
Item 147 of 148193823 Don Street  AberdeenScotlandRestoration
Item 148 of 1481938Rowett Institute, Reid Library and cattle shedsBucksburn AberdeenScotlandStained glass on landing window - with Douglas Strachan


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 2 of 4Carruthers, Annette2013The Arts and Crafts Movement in Scotland: a history  pp102-107
Item 3 of 4Minty, Charles A1983William Kelly Robert Gordon's University Dissertation 1893 
Item 4 of 4Simpson, W Douglas A tribute offered by the University of Aberdeen to the memory of William Kelly LLD ARSA   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Aberdeen Evening Express10 March 1944   
Item 2 of 3Aberdeen Press and Journal11 March 1944   
Item 3 of 3Builder17 March 1944  p222 - obituary - CHECK for further info

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Aberdeen UniversityAberdeen University Archives Kelly MSS
Item 2 of 2Robert Gordon's University ArchiveCollection of plans, manuscripts etc Correspondance, plans etc including collection of material belonging to James B Nicol


© All rights reserved. ©and courtesy of RIAS 

© All rights reserved. ©and courtesy of RIAS