Basic Biographical Details

Name: Ross & Mackintosh
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: c. 1875
Ended: 1886
Bio Notes: Alexander Ross was born at Huntly Hill, Stracathro, Angus, on 9 July 1834, the son of James Ross, architect, then aged about 53. In 1838 the family moved to Inverness, Archibald having engaged the older Ross to complete work he had in hand in that area. He was educated at Inverness Royal Academy and Bell's Institution, and on leaving, c.1848, he is said somewhat doubtfully to have been apprenticed to a building contractor to gain practical experience before being articled to his father. Neither of these apprenticeships could have been the usual length as he stated in his nomination form that he left his father's office to gain practical experience as 'a clerk of works in a contractor's firm', returning to his father as assistant before taking over his practice at the early age of 19 when he died in 1853. A younger brother, James, who predeceased him, became a solicitor in Inverness.

Ross successfully developed the Episcopal Church building aspect of his father's practice. In 1859 he formed a partnership with his schoolfriend William Joass and in the same year widened his social connections by enlisting in the Volunteers with the Inverness Garrison Artillery of which he was to became colonel; and still further by entering the exclusive St John's Masonic Lodge, Inverness, in 1863. In 1864 or 1865 he married Mary Ann Carnaby Finlayson, daughter of Sir Alexander Matheson's factor on Harris, an influential match which brought the factorship of Matheson's Inverness estate in 1868.

The partnership of Ross & Joass was dissolved in 1865, Joass thereafter practising independently on his own account in Dingwall. In the following year Ross secured the commission for the new St Andrew's Cathedral in Inverness and this in turn resulted in his being nominated to take part in the limited competition for St Mary's Episcopal Cathedral in Edinburgh in 1872. His triple-spired design submitted under the pseudonym Fidelitas was mistaken for that of William Burges in August while that of Burges 'Non ignotiae civitas municeps' was assumed to be Ross's. Both architects issued disclaimers, thus effectively identifying their correct provenance. Ross's scheme, nevertheless, attracted the admiration of the Trustees and although the assessor, Ewan Christian, had recommended George Edmund Street, Ross lost to George Gilbert Scott in November by only one vote; Scott was then instructed to add western spires to his own design in conformity with Ross's. This provoked a reaction from Ross who, under the new pseudonym of Fair Play, wrote objecting to Scott's appointment and the 10-12,000 increase in the cost limit when his design could by his calculations, though not Christian's, be built within the cost limit. This appeal to the Trustees was unsuccessful and the competition damaged Ross's reputation when rumours began to circulate that Ross's design had been made by an ex-assistant of Burges's, the London architect George Freeth Roper (1843-92) to whom the design of St Andrew's Cathedral in Inverness had been farmed out in 1866. Ross countered these rumours by publishing some of his correspondence with Roper in edited form, which in turn provoked Roper into publishing the letters in full. The correspondence was closed by the Building News in March 1873 when it published St Andrews and a design by Roper side by side so that their readers could draw their own conclusions.

The St Mary's Cathedral affair had little effect on Ross's practice or on his reputation at home. The Bishop of Brechin in particular gave him his support; his lodge made him master, 1873-76; he was elected to the Town Council of Inverness in 1881 and was provost, 1889-95; and the University of Aberdeen conferred upon him the degree of LLD in 1891. By that date Ross's practice had grown very considerably, particularly with new schools and schoolhouses of which he was said to have built 450 for the school boards from 1872 onwards. It was probably because of school work in the remoter areas, including long journeys by steamer, mail coach and gig that Ross opened a branch office in Oban in about 1880, having entered into a partnership with David Mackintosh in about 1875 with Mackintosh running the branch office; but sometime after 1883 when the demands of the school boards had been largely met, the partnership was dissolved, Mackintosh thereafter continuing the Oban practice independently just as Joass had done in Dingwall.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 2Inverness, Inverness-shire, ScotlandBusinessc. 1875c. 1880 
Item 2 of 2Oban, Argyll, ScotlandBusinessc. 1880  

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3John Robertsonc. 1875Before 1880Assistant 
Item 2 of 3Alexander Rossc. 18751883Partner 
Item 3 of 3David Mackintosh or Macintoshc. 18751883Partner 

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice 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 121875Ballindalloch HouseInveravon BanffshireScotlandLarge bedroom wing added - demolished 1965-67
Item 2 of 121875Tobermory High SchoolTobermoryMullArgyllScotland 
Item 3 of 121878Kincorth House, factor's house  MorayshireSingaporeProbably Ross & Mackintosh
Item 4 of 121880St Michael's Episcopal ChurchDufftown BanffshireScotlandMay have been in partnership with Mackintosh
Item 5 of 121881Duncansburgh Parish ChurchFort William Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 6 of 121881Oban Episcopal Cathedral of St John the DivineOban ArgyllScotlandProposed additions - not carried out
Item 7 of 12c. 1881St Michael's ParsonageDufftown BanffshireScotland 
Item 8 of 12188317-19 Argyll SquareOban ArgyllScotland 
Item 9 of 121883St Mary's Episcopal SchoolGlencoe Inverness-shireScotland 
Item 10 of 121884Great Western Hotel and TerraceOban ArgyllScotlandAdditions to dining hall
Item 11 of 121884Wooden shopOban ArgyllScotland 
Item 12 of 12Before 1886Royal HotelOban ArgyllScotland'Buildings of Scotland' attribution


Currently, there are no references for this architectural practice. The information has been derived from: the British Architectural Library / RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914; Post Office Directories; and/or any sources listed under this individual's works.