Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Bridgeford Pirie
Designation: Architect
Born: 1848
Died: 24 February 1892
Bio Notes: John Bridgeford Pirie was born in Aberdeen in 1848 (christened 26 December, St Nicholas Parish) the son of John Pirie, a sea captain with George Thomson's line, and his wife Ann Bridgeford. Both his parents died early (his mother in February 1868 his father having predeceased her). He was educated at Ledingham's Academy in Aberdeen. About 1863 he was articled to Alexander Ellis, also the son of a sea captain. There he worked under Robert Gordon Wilson and it was probably through Wilson's subsequent period as an assistant with Alexander Thomson from c.1866 that Pirie was to develop an interest in Thomson's work. At the end of his articles c.1866, Pirie spent a short time as an improver with David Bryce in Edinburgh, returning to Aberdeen as leading draughtsman to James Matthews c.1867. He exhibited a design for a screen at the RSA in 1870 and by March 1871 he was living at 6 Brown Street, Woodside, from which he exhibited at the RSA in 1871-73.

After ten years with Matthews whom he left on 11 September 1877, Pirie went into independent practice at 177 Union Street Aberdeen with the encouragement of the builder John Morgan who was seven years older. He was immediately successful, winning in 1878-79 the competitions for two major churches, one in Fraserburgh and one in Aberdeen, both in a very original, predominantly early French, idiom. Both Morgan and Pirie were founding members of the Aberdeen Philosophical Society and enthusiasts for the teaching of John Ruskin with whom Morgan corresponded. Morgan and Pirie travelled together in Britain to see the latest developments, and Morgan's travels in America and the Far East were to have a considerable influence on the decorative arts aspect of the practice through the books and prints he brought home. Pirie may also have had a link of some kind with Frederick Thomas Pilkington as W T Johnston has traced Pirie using his office at 2 Hill Street, Edinburgh as an address in 1882.

When Pirie opened his office at 177 Union Street he shared it with Arthur Clyne, a former colleague at Matthews's practice. In 1881 they merged their practices as Pirie & Clyne and moved to 123 Union Street which was to remain their address.

Pirie & Clyne were amongst the most individual architects in Scotland in later Victorian times, designing in Thomsonesque Greek and early Gothic, and sometimes even in combinations of these; except at John Morgan's 50 Queen's Road which challenges comparison with Burges's Tower House in originality, Greek was more usually adopted for domestic work. Their churches are invariably early Gothic: they are more conventionally planned than Pilkington's and may not have the same mastery of scale, composition and construction but they are even more individual and inventive in the smaller details, developing unusual motifs which are at times proto-Art Nouveau from a very wide range of sources.

Pirie died of tuberculosis on 24 February 1892 at his house at 24 Hamilton Place. During his last months he occupied himself with the design of the monument to James Saint which relieved 'many a weary hour of illness' and the writing of a paper 'The Beauty of Art', based on a close study of the writings of Ruskin but it was never given. He left a widow Mary Troup MacDougall (who died on 27 May 1936) and five children, one son and four daughters, but no moveable estate, John Morgan observing: 'He died early in years, yet he left abiding monuments of his taste, skill, and genius, and it gives some idea of his genius when one finds some of his details all over town. No company would insure his life, he died poor, and left a young family unprovided for.' Morgan was involved in raising money for them (he gave Bridgeford a quarterly allowance of 4). As late as 1929 money owed to various creditors still appears to have been outstanding. There may have been some difficulty with Clyne as Pirie's widow withdrew her husband's drawings from the practice archive and stored them in the attic of their house in Hamilton Place. After Pirie died Clyne had made up the accounts of the practice and calculated that 11 15s 11d was due to himself, but this does not seem to have been paid. In 1910 this sum was still outstanding and a letter to Clyne's solicitor from Mrs Pirie indicates that one of her daughters, Annie Mary, had been 'threatened' because of this non-payment. The more important drawings from the practice were retained by the family when the Hamilton Place house was closed and are now in the NMRS.

Pirie's son Bridgeford MacDougall Pirie, born 1877, became an architect but practised only briefly in Aberdeen in 1897-99. He emigrated in 1905 to Malta where he worked for the Royal Engineers.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 76, Brown Street, Woodside, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1871After 1873 
Item 2 of 781, Skene Square, Aberdeen, ScotlandBusiness1877 *  
Item 3 of 7177, Union Street, Aberdeen, ScotlandBusinessAfter 18771881 
Item 4 of 711, Union Buildings, Aberdeen, ScotlandBusinessFebruary 1878 *  
Item 5 of 7123 1/2, Union Street, Aberdeen, ScotlandBusiness1881After 1887 
Item 6 of 72, Hill Street, Edinburgh, ScotlandBusiness(?)1882 * Apparently collaborating with Frederick Thomas Pilkington
Item 7 of 724, Hamilton Place, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate18861892 

* 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 4Alexander Ellisc. 1863c. 1866Apprentice 
Item 2 of 4David Brycec. 1866c. 1867Improver 
Item 3 of 4James Matthewsc. 18671877Assistant 
Item 4 of 4Pirie & Clyne18811892Partner 

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 167 Council rooms, Provost's room and reading rooms  AberdeenScotlandNo date on drawing
Item 2 of 167 Court of farm buildings    Uncertain if Clyne involved
Item 3 of 167 Design for a Roman Catholic Church    As date uncertain, unclear if Clyne involved
Item 4 of 167 Design for small terraced houses  AberdeenScotlandDrawing not dated
Item 5 of 167 Free ChurchWoodside AberdeenshireScotlandProposed additions
Item 6 of 167 Girls' reformatory  AberdeenScotlandFormation of playgorund area on old bleachfield
Item 7 of 167 House, Albyn Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 8 of 167 Houses, Baltic Street  AberdeenScotlandAlterations?
Item 9 of 167 Kirkhill Farmhouse and SteadingPotterton AberdeenshireScotlandUncertain if by Pirie?
Item 10 of 167 Plan of church with session house, vestry and school attached   Scotland 
Item 11 of 167 Rossie Farm House   ScotlandDetails of interior woodwork - may be as assistant to James Matthews
Item 12 of 167 Semi-detached houses  Aberdeen?ScotlandUncertain if Clyne involved
Item 13 of 167 Tenement  AberdeenScotland 
Item 14 of 167 Two-storey house  AberdeenScotlandNo date
Item 15 of 167 Unidentified bakery  AberdeenScotlandMay be Bridgeford Macdougall Pirie?
Item 16 of 167 Unidentified house    Uncertain if Clyne involved
Item 17 of 1671863(?)RC Church of St Mary of the Assumption  AberdeenScotlandMay have been involved whan an apprentice with Ellis
Item 18 of 167After 1863Cushnie House  AberdeenshireScotlandPerhaps as assistant to Matthews
Item 19 of 1671866Sketch design of a church    As apprentice to Alexander Ellis - name appears on drawing with that of Ellis
Item 20 of 167After 1866(?)West Free Church  AberdeenScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 21 of 167After 1867Arnage House  AberdeenshireScotlandFurther work- as assistant to James Matthews
Item 22 of 1671868Banff County Buildings and Sheriff CourthouseBanff BanffshireScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 23 of 1671870Design for a screen  AberdeenScotland 
Item 24 of 167After 1870St Margaret's Schools  AberdeenScotlandRepairs and cleaning of stonework - as assistant to Matthews?
Item 25 of 167c. 18705 Albyn Place  AberdeenScotlandRepainting - with Pirie as assistant
Item 26 of 167c. 1870BankBanchory KincardineshireScotlandPirie as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 27 of 167c. 1870Cottage at 4 Millburn Street  AberdeenScotlandPainting - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 28 of 167c. 1870Cottage in Carden Place  AberdeenScotlandPainter work - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 29 of 167c. 1870Desswood House  AberdeenScotlandAlterations? - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 30 of 167c. 1870Manse of BenholmBenholm KincardineshireScotlandImproving water supply - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 31 of 167c. 1870Music Hall  AberdeenScotlandRe-painting of hall - Pirie as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 32 of 167c. 1870Two cottages, Queen's Cross  AberdeenScotlandPirie as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 33 of 167c. 1870Two semi-detached cottages, Queen's Cross  AberdeenScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 34 of 1671871'Architectural idea'     
Item 35 of 1671871Oldmill Reformatory  AberdeenScotlandAddition of privy - as assistant to James Matthews
Item 36 of 167After 1871Haughton HouseAlford AberdeenshireScotlandDrying room added - as leading draftsman to Matthews?
Item 37 of 167c. 1871Glenmillan House  AberdeenshireScotlandWater tanks - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 38 of 167c. 1871Oldmill Reformatory Steading  AberdeenScotlandProbably new build - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 39 of 1671872'Architectural idea'     
Item 40 of 1671872Ballogie House  AberdeenshireScotlandFittings
Item 41 of 1671872Balnagask  AberdeenshireScotlandGate and gatepiers
Item 42 of 1671872Church design   Scotland 
Item 43 of 1671872Dwelling houses, FootdeeOld Aberdeen AberdeenScotlandAs assistant to James Matthews
Item 44 of 1671872House in Bridge Street  AberdeenScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 45 of 1671872Keith HallInverurie AberdeenshireScotlandRepairs to stonework -as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 46 of 1671872North of Scotland BankLaurencekirk AberdeenshireScotlandAdditions - as assistant to James Matthews
Item 47 of 1671872Pen and ink drawing of Medieval church     
Item 48 of 1671872Saints' shop  AberdeenScotlandRefitting - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 49 of 1671872Straloch HouseStraloch AberdeenshireScotlandStables - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 50 of 16726 August 1872St Columba's Parish ChurchOban ArgyllScotlandDate on Pirie's competition entry - not successful
Item 51 of 167After 1872Brotherstone HouseBenholm/Fordoun KincardineshireScotlandLaundry and drying house - as assistant to Matthews
Item 52 of 167After 1872(?)House at GovalDyce AberdeenshireScotlandAddition of vinery - perhaps as leading draftsman to Matthews? Vinery to be same as the conservatory at New Mill
Item 53 of 167Before 1872Dyce Parish ChurchDyce AberdeenshireScotlandSeating and roofing of church - presumably as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 54 of 167c. 1872Aberdeen Grammar School  AberdeenScotlandAlterations
Item 55 of 167c. 1872Advocates Hall, Concert Hall and Court  AberdeenScotlandBookcases - as part of the Matthews work?
Item 56 of 167c. 1872(?)Albyn Terrace stables  AberdeenScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 57 of 167c. 1872Crimonmogate House  AberdeenScotlandWater conduit from fountain to house installed- as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 58 of 167c. 1872Hadden's worksGraen AberdeenScotlandAlterations - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 59 of 167c. 1872House at GovalDyce AberdeenshireScotlandAddition of drying house - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 60 of 167c. 1872House at Union Bridge  AberdeenScotlandExtensive plumbing work. Some plumbing to be connected 'to hotel' (Aberdeen Hotel?) - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 61 of 167c. 1872House at Union Bridge  AberdeenScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 62 of 167c. 1872I F White's premises, conservatory  AberdeenScotland 
Item 63 of 167c. 1872Insch SchoolInsch AberdeenshireScotlandNew build? Extensive alterations?
Item 64 of 167c. 1872New Mill, conservatory   ScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 65 of 167c. 1872New street at Loanhead  AberdeenScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 66 of 167c. 1872North Carden Place, new street  AberdeenScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 67 of 167c. 1872St Mary's Parish ChurchMonymusk AberdeenshireScotlandAlterations
Item 68 of 167c. 1872Unspecified works, granary, stable, bakehouse and engine shed  AberdeenScotlandAlterations to granary(?); stable, bakehouse and engine shed - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 69 of 167c. 1872Upper Dysart, farm house and stableMontrose (near) AngusScotlandAlterations? - as leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 70 of 1671873'Architectural idea'     
Item 71 of 1671873High Pavement ChurchNottingham NottinghamshireEnglandAs apprentice to James Matthews
Item 72 of 1671873Stewart's HallHuntly AberdeenshireScotlandCompetition designs - not successful
Item 73 of 167c. 1874Ellon SchoolEllon AberdeenshireScotlandPut forward design - apparently while an apprentice with Matthews? Or was this a later school?
Item 74 of 1671875(?)Inverurie Free ChurchInverurie AberdeenshireScotlandDesigns for rebuilding - apparently not successful
Item 75 of 1671875Villa for James Saint, Queen's Road  AberdeenScotlandAs leading draughtsman to James Matthew
Item 76 of 1671876House, Rubislaw Den  AberdeenScotland 
Item 77 of 167c. 1876Fyvie SchoolFyvie AberdeenshireScotlandDesks
Item 78 of 1671877Entrance lodge and gateway for Matthews & Lawrie (perhaps Aldourie)   Scotland 
Item 79 of 16718781 Queens Gate  AberdeenScotlandAs leading draftsman to Matthews
Item 80 of 1671878Bookcase for John Morgan  AberdeenScotland 
Item 81 of 1671878Fraserburgh Free ChurchFraserburgh AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 82 of 1671878House for John Morgan in Thomson Street  AberdeenScotlandadditions and alterations
Item 83 of 1671878House in Skene Square  AberdeenScotland 
Item 84 of 1671878Houses in Baltic Street  AberdeenScotland 
Item 85 of 1671878Shop in Mount Street West  AberdeenScotlandShopfitting
Item 86 of 1671878Shops, 5 and 7 (or 9?)Back Wynd  AberdeenScotlandPlan for alterations
Item 87 of 1671878Victoria Park, Fountain  AberdeenScotland 
Item 88 of 1671879Design for a small house  AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 89 of 1671879Queen's Cross Free Church  AberdeenScotlandWon competition and secured job
Item 90 of 167c. 1879Banchory Free ChurchBanchory KincardineshireScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 91 of 1671880s(?)Town and County BankEcht AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 92 of 1671880Glasgow Municipal Buildings  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design, not successful
Item 93 of 1671880Victoria HallCastleton, Braemar AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 94 of 1671881Millbrex Established ChurchFyvie AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 95 of 1671881Robertson Memorial ChurchPeterhead AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 96 of 1671881St John's School  AberdeenScotlandAdditions
Item 97 of 1671881Teacher's HouseFraserburgh AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 98 of 1671881ViewbankPitfodels AberdeenScotland 
Item 99 of 1671881York Street School  AberdeenScotland 
Item 100 of 167After 1881Advocates Hall, Concert Hall and Court  AberdeenScotlandAlterations
Item 101 of 167After 1881(?)Arbroath Parish ChurchArbroath AngusScotlandUncertain what involvement was
Item 102 of 167After 1881(?)Craigmillar Steam LaundryCraigmillar EdinburghScotlandExact date unknown - may have been by Clyne alone, before or after partnership
Item 103 of 167After 1881Denmore  AberdeenshireScotlandAddition of rustic porch
Item 104 of 167After 1881Nether Benholm Farm Steading  KincardineshireScotlandAlterations
Item 105 of 167After 1881Rifle Volunteer Drill Hall  AberdeenScotland 
Item 106 of 167Before 1881(?)Museum, gallery and administration rooms  AberdeenScotlandCompetition entered under name 'Tenax'
Item 107 of 167c. 1881(?)Stable House, Rubislaw Terrace  AberdeenScotland 
Item 108 of 167After 1882Peterhead AcademyPeterhead AberdeenshireScotland'Buildings of Scotland' gives date of 1890-91 but the dates are in conflict with information from Alexander Lorimer's Nomination Paper.
Item 109 of 16718834 Belmont Street  AberdeenScotlandAdditions
Item 110 of 1671883Anderson LibraryWoodside AberdeenScotland 
Item 111 of 1671883New Deer Free ChurchNew Deer AberdeenshireScotlandSketch design for new church - did not win competition
Item 112 of 1671883St Andrew's Episcopal Church  AberdeenScotlandReredos design
Item 113 of 1671883St Leonard's Free ChurchPerth PerthshireScotlandCompetition design - not successful (alternative estimates submitted July 1882)
Item 114 of 1671883Unidentified Church    Perspective sketch
Item 115 of 167Before 1883Drumwhindle SchoolDrumwhindle AberdeenshireScotland 
Item 116 of 167c. 1883Aberdeen Art Gallery  AberdeenScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 117 of 167c. 1883Gray's School of Art  AberdeenScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 118 of 1671884108 Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 119 of 1671884Design for a 'decorated Gothic' screen (St Mary's ?)  AberdeenScotland 
Item 120 of 1671884Four Houses on Argyll Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 121 of 1671884Four Houses on Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 122 of 1671884House for John Morgan on Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 123 of 1671884Macduff Town HallMacduff BanffshireScotlandWon competition and secured job.
Item 124 of 1671884Three Houses on Argyll Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 125 of 1671884Two double cottages, Argyll Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 126 of 1671884Two Houses on Argyll Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 127 of 1671884Two Houses on Argyll Place for John Morgan  AberdeenScotland 
Item 128 of 167Before 1884(?)House on west corner of Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 129 of 167188546 and 48 Queen's Road  AberdeenScotland 
Item 130 of 167188550 Queen's Road  AberdeenScotland 
Item 131 of 167188552 and 54 Queen's Road  AberdeenScotland 
Item 132 of 167188562 Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 133 of 167188564-66 Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 134 of 167188586-88 Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 135 of 1671885Fourteen Houses on Burnside Road for John Morgan  AberdeenScotland 
Item 136 of 1671885House for C Robertson on Fountainhall Road  AberdeenScotland 
Item 137 of 1671885St James' Episcopal ChurchStonehaven KincardineshireScotlandChancel and vestry
Item 138 of 1671885St Ninian's ChapelArbroath AngusScotlandPulpit and proposed extension to chapel
Item 139 of 1671885St Palladius's Episcopal Church and ParsonageDrumtochty AberdeenshireScotlandAlso designed font
Item 140 of 1671885Two Houses for John Morgan on Argyll Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 141 of 1671885Two Houses on Argyll Place for John Morgan  AberdeenScotland 
Item 142 of 1671885Whitehall Bowling & Tennis Club Pavilion  AberdeenScotland 
Item 143 of 167188668-70 Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 144 of 1671886BayviewSpital AberdeenScotland 
Item 145 of 1671886Five Houses on Queen's Road  AberdeenScotland 
Item 146 of 1671886Four Houses on Esslemont Avenue for R W Carter  AberdeenScotland 
Item 147 of 1671886House for George M Thompson on Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 148 of 167c. 188678-80 Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 149 of 167c. 188682-84 Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 150 of 167c. 188690, 92, 94, 96 Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 151 of 167c. 1886House for Mr Moir at North east corner of Hamilton Place   Scotland 
Item 152 of 167c. 1886House on North West corner of Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 153 of 167c. 1886House, Hamilton Road/Whitehall Road corner   Scotland 
Item 154 of 167188716 Rose Street  AberdeenScotland 
Item 155 of 1671887Argyll Crescent  AberdeenScotland 
Item 156 of 1671887Houses for Robert Murray and John Morgan on Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 157 of 1671887St James Episcopal Church  AberdeenScotland 
Item 158 of 1671888Queen's Cross Free Church  AberdeenScotlandOrgan chamber added (tenders dated Fenruary and March 1888)
Item 159 of 1671889Central Public Library  AberdeenScotlandThird premiated competition design
Item 160 of 1671890Allenvale Cemetery, James Saint Monument  AberdeenScotland 
Item 161 of 1671890House for Captain Cumine on King Street Road  AberdeenScotland 
Item 162 of 1671890House on Hamilton Place  AberdeenScotland 
Item 163 of 167After 1890Arts and Crafts house  AberdeenScotland 
Item 164 of 1671891All Saints Episcopal ChurchStrichen AberdeenshireScotlandReconstruction
Item 165 of 1671891House on Hamilton Place for John Morgan  AberdeenScotland 
Item 166 of 167Before 1892House at Rubislaw for James Clyne  AberdeenScotland 
Item 167 of 167Early 1900s(?)Church BankWallsend-on-Tyne NorthumberlandEnglandIs this a photo of something designed by him?


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 5Ball, Victoria Reyner1997Some interiors by John Bridgeford Pirie and Arthur Clyne, Architects, Aberdeen Journal of the Decorative Arts Society, no 21 
Item 2 of 5British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914  Incorrectly gives 1851 as year of birth
Item 3 of 5In Memoriam1892   Obituary of Pirie
Item 4 of 5Johnston, W T2003Artists of Scotland Officina Publications CDROM 
Item 5 of 5Morgan, John1899Memoirs Aberdeen 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 7Aberdeen Daily Free Press25 February 1892  p4 Obituary
Item 2 of 7Aberdeen Evening Express25 February 1892  Page 4, column 5, Obituary
Item 3 of 7Aberdeen Journal12 December 1883  Pirie's nomination to Aberdeen Philosophical Society.
Item 4 of 7Aberdeen Press and Journal29 May 1936  Death notice of Mary Troup MacDougall
Item 5 of 7Free Church of Scotland Monthly1 March 1892  Obituary
Item 6 of 7The Arbroath Guide27 February 1892  Obituary Back page
Item 7 of 7The Arbroath Guide3 March 1892  Obituary - may be 5 March

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1National Monuments Record of Scotland/NMRS, RCAHMSJ B Pirie Collection Document (Discharge by Mary MacNaughton or Pirie, clearing Clyne of any present of future claims by the Pirie's) in favour of Arthur Clyne. NB Elsewhere she is called MacDougall. Various other letters, diary and other cuttings)