Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Maclaren & Son
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: c. 1879
Ended: 1893
Bio Notes: James Maclaren was born in Dundee on 11 March 1829, the son of William Maclaren and Mary Anderson, and was christened on 22 March. He was articled to David Smith who had succeeded to James Black's practice, but Smith died in 1845 or early 1846 and he completed his apprenticeship with ____ Johnstone who was a land surveyor rather than an architect. Nevertheless he managed to secure a place in the office of David Bryce in Edinburgh from which he won the Soane Medallion in 1848 at the early age of nineteen, the subject being a vast complex of public baths. In 1850 he returned to Dundee to commence practice with his brother William, perhaps at his father's wish. William had been born on 12 May 1831 (christened 22 May); nothing is known of his training. The partnership was very brief: it is not yet known whether William died or followed another profession. In that same year James won the competition for the Peel Monument at Forfar and soon thereafter he was appointed architect and surveyor to the Panmure estate, perhaps through the influence of Bryce: this gave him control over the feuing of Barnhill, Monifieth and Carnoustie, and brought him many domestic commissions, enabling him to marry Jemima Margaret Miller c.1853. By 1854 at the latest he had secured the patronage of the Cox family, and in that same year, although only twenty-five, he was the founder-editor of the Scottish architectural journal, 'The Building Chronicle' which was published in Edinburgh and was an important forum for architectural debate until it ceased publication in 1857.

Initially Maclaren's public and commercial architecture derived from Bryce, Graeco-Roman neo-classical for monuments and public buildings and astylar Renaissance for commercial buildings. Influenced perhaps by the stylistic debate in his Building Chronicle he built no baronial houses. The earliest were neo-Jacobean of the Burn school sometimes with curvilinear gables, but from the early 1860s his houses adopted a more freestyle treatment with neo-Jacobean, Second Empire and sometimes completely non-period elements, an idiom also adopted by his nephew and pupil David Maclaren who commenced practice on his own account with James Ireland in 1872. From the later 1870s James Maclaren similarly adopted a more free interpretation of Renaissance for his commercial buildings, a development which may have been associated with George Shaw Aitken, who had been taken on as his chief assistant in 1871 and became his partner in 1873, the practice now assuming the name of Maclaren & Aitken, the office then being within the building Maclaren had built for himself at 10 Bank Street. The partnership was briefly very successful but ended soon after March 1879 as a result of disagreements and litigation over the specification of stone from the Ferrybank estate near Cupar, which had been acquired by Maclaren. It was a fine white sandstone but proved unreliable on exposure to the weather. Aitken thereafter practised on his own account in Dundee for a year or two before moving back to Edinburgh and Maclaren continued on his own with his eldest son George Gordon Maclaren, who had been born 26 June 1855 and apprenticed to his father, as James Maclaren & Son.

The Ferrybank stone affair adversely affected the practice and George had neither London nor Edinburgh experience. In the early 1880s the patronage of Maclaren's most important client, the Cox family, gradually slipped away to the much more up-to-date John Murray Robertson whose inspiration was partly American, and although the firm still had a very substantial domestic practice from the Panmure estate feus, it had lost the commanding position it had previously enjoyed. Nevertheless Maclaren's position as father of the profession in Dundee was still very much evident when he called a meeting in June 1884 to devise a uniform set of rules for the measurement of the work of the various trades. His efforts led to the Dundee Mode of Measurement in 1898 and ultimately the Scottish National Building Code of 1915. At the June 1884 meeting Charles Ower observed that it was the first time the architects in the area had met professionally and proposed an organisation on the lines of London's Architectural Association. In the same month the Dundee Institute of Architecture Science and Art was founded with James Maclaren as its first president, 1884-86.

James Maclaren died at Ferrybank on 16 June 1893. Prior to his death he appears to have recognised that the practice was becoming out of date as a younger son, John Turnbull Maclaren, born 1864, was sent to an unspecified office in the United States to gain experience, returning on his father's death as a partner. It appears that John Turnbull Maclaren practised briefly as 'J T Maclaren & Son' in the months just after his father's death. He exhibited a design for some work on Lyndhurst at the Glasgow Institute of Architects in 1893 under this name.

George Gordon Maclaren who had set up house in Invermark Terrace, Barnhill, retained his father's management of the Panmure feus for the Dalhousie Trustees and concentrated his interests in Broughty Ferry where he had become a parish councillor and a burgh commissioner, successfully promoting a scheme for a municipal gasworks, though not the scheme for municipal swimming baths and private baths of which he was the principal advocate. Stylistically his work was a pale version of his father's. In 1896 he suffered a heart attack and from the summer of 1898 he was confined to his house. He died on 31 June 1899, survived by a widow Isabella Stenhouse and a young family. He left a moveable estate of 1,633 15s 10d.

John Turnbull Maclaren continued the practice as sole practitioner into the early years to the twentieth century.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 110, Bank Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness   

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 5James Maclarenc. 18791893Partner 
Item 2 of 5George Gordon Maclarenc. 18791893Partner 
Item 3 of 5Alexander Gairns Laskie18841889Apprentice 
Item 4 of 5Alexander Gairns Laskie18891890Draughtsman 
Item 5 of 5Henry Cox McCullochNovember 1889 or July 1890July 1890 or November 1890Assistant 

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 411880Chance InnInverkeilor AngusScotland 
Item 2 of 41c. 1880Thistle Hall  DundeeScotlandReconstruction
Item 3 of 411881Abbey Church ManseArbroath AngusScotland 
Item 4 of 411881Ardestie Farmhouse and SteadingPanmure Estate  Scotland 
Item 5 of 411881Bell Baxter AnnexeCupar FifeScotlandEnlargement (Buidlings of Scotland says Maclaren & Son but this partnership did not form until 1883. Therefore just Maclaren on his own)
Item 6 of 411881Northern Assurance Company Offices  DundeeScotland 
Item 7 of 411881Residence. Lochee Lochee  DundeeScotland 
Item 8 of 411881Shops and dwelling-houses, Overgate  DundeeScotland 
Item 9 of 411882Villa for T DavidsonCupar FifeScotland 
Item 10 of 411883Colluthie HouseMoonzie FifeScotlandAddition of new front
Item 11 of 411883Corn ExchangeCupar FifeScotlandImprovements
Item 12 of 411883Cupar Spinning Mills, workmen's housesCupar FifeScotland 
Item 13 of 411883Warehouses on Charles Street for David Stewart  DundeeScotland 
Item 14 of 41After 1883Clepington Works Buildings  DundeeScotlandDate unknown: partnership uncertain
Item 15 of 411885Abbey ChurchArbroath AngusScotlandNew front and tower. Also probably hall.
Item 16 of 411885Half-time School, Camperdown WorksLochee DundeeScotland 
Item 17 of 41c. 1885Afton Place  DundeeScotland 
Item 18 of 41c. 1885Barry Free Church ManseBarry AngusScotland 
Item 19 of 41c. 1885Bay HouseWest Ferry DundeeScotlandReconstruction - probably with the addition of the east wing
Item 20 of 41c. 1885Building on the east side of Wellgate  DundeeScotland 
Item 21 of 41c. 1885Tenements on King's Road  DundeeScotland 
Item 22 of 41c. 1885Tenements, Bonnybank  DundeeScotland 
Item 23 of 411886Offices for Cox Brothers  DundeeScotland 
Item 24 of 41Before 1886Prinlaws Place StepsNewport-on-Tay FifeScotlandCheck partnership
Item 25 of 411888Barry Free ChurchBarry AngusScotland 
Item 26 of 411889Baxter Institute for Female EducationCupar FifeScotlandReconstruction
Item 27 of 411889Grove AcademyBroughty Ferry DundeeScotlandFirst phase
Item 28 of 411890Clepington Mission hall  DundeeScotland 
Item 29 of 411890Empress Hygienic Laundry  DundeeScotlandAlterations
Item 30 of 41c. 189017, 18 Baxter Park Terrace and 35 Park Avenue  DundeeScotland 
Item 31 of 41c. 1890Red Court, house, coachhouse, stable, lodge and laundryWest Ferry DundeeScotlandCompletion after dispute between Blanc and his client
Item 32 of 411891Mercantile Buildings, Dundee Perth & London Shipping Company Offices  DundeeScotlandNew building at 20 Dock Street
Item 33 of 4118921-7 Union Street and 52-58 Nethergate  DundeeScotlandRemodelled and attic floor added
Item 34 of 411892Thistle Hall  DundeeScotlandRemodelled and attic floor added
Item 35 of 411892Villa for Dr T G NasmythCupar FifeScotland 
Item 36 of 411893Gagie HouseGagie AngusScotlandInternal reconstruction and external embellishments following a fire
Item 37 of 411893Young Men's Christian Association gymnasiumBroughty Ferry DundeeScotland 
Item 38 of 41Before 1915Aberlemno School and SchoolhouseAberlemno AngusScotlandDate unknown: unclear whether carried out before or after Maclaren's death
Item 39 of 41Before 1915Camphill SchoolCamphill DundeeScotlandDate unknown: unclear whether carried out before or after Maclaren's death
Item 40 of 41Before 1915Chapelton SchoolInverkeilor AngusScotlandDate unknown: unclear whether carried out before or after Maclaren's death
Item 41 of 41Before 1915Lunan School and SchoolhouseLunan AngusScotlandDate unknown: unclear whether carried out before or after Maclaren's death

References

Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architectural practice:
 Author(s)DateTitlePartPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Dundee Yearbook1893   James Maclaren obituary
Item 2 of 2Pride, Glen L1999The Kingdom of Fife2nd EditionThe Rutland Pressp110, p185

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architectural practice:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Dundee AdvertiserJuly 1899  George Gordon Maclaren (cutting in NMRS)
Item 2 of 2RIAS QuarterlyAugust 1948no 73Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS)John T Maclaren

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architectural practice:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from William Salmond, William Patrick, James McIntosh Patrick, Ann Patrick, Stuart O Barron, Peter Young and Ian Gordon Lindsay