Basic Biographical Details

Name: W Hunter McNab & Son
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: January 1927
Ended: 1935(?)
Bio Notes: William Hunter McNab was born in Stirling or Clackmannan (sources vary) on 8 January 1862, the son of James McNab, mercantile clerk and his wife Jane Hall Hunter of Clackmannan, educated at 'several schools in Stirling, finishing at [The] High School there'. In 1877 he was articled to John Allan of Stirling, a somewhat whimsical architect, but he attended classes held by Leonard Baker, who was 'connected with South Kensington Science and Art Department' and 'whose classes were unsurpassed by any similar classes in the country'. In 1881 he secured a place in the office of William Leiper, which enabled him to study at Glasgow School of Art. In 1883 Leiper put him in charge of his drawing office, although responsibility may in some degree have been shared when William James Anderson was in the office in 1889 to 1891 helping with the detailing of the Sun building. During this period he spent some time travelling in the British Isles and Ireland and also in France. He married Isabella Braid Christie Walls, daughter of builder John Walls, on 24 October 1890 at the Cockburn Hotel, Bath Street, Glasgow, and their first son, James (better known as Hamish), was born on 22 July 1891.

It is not entirely clear at what point Leiper took William Hunter McNab into partnership. His RIBA nomination paper states that he commenced practice in 1896 with additions to Glenfinnart House at Ardentinny, which he may have been allowed to undertake separately from the practice. 'Who's Who in Architecture 1914' gives 1899 as the date of commencement of practice, which is probably the date of the partnership agreement. Although not claimed as his own work in his nomination papers, Leiper's two large houses at Stirling probably came to the practice through McNab's connections there.

McNab was admitted FRIBA on 3 December 1906, his proposers being Leiper, John Keppie and John James Burnet. At that date he had travelled in France and Holland. Leiper retired in 1909 after a protracted illness and although McNab was a very able architect the practice had very little business after Leiper's death in 1916.

In 1911 McNab's son Hamish had joined the practice as an assistant, having served his apprenticeship in the office of James Miller and attended classes at Glasgow School of Architecture. He became chief draughtsman but his career was interrupted by war service with the Royal Engineers from 1915 to 1919, during which he rose to the rank of Lieutenant. He rejoined the firm at the cease of hostilities, and was taken into partnership in 1927, the practice title changing to William Hunter McNab & Son. He was elected LRIBA in mid-1933, his proposers being James Miller, John Keppie and John Watson. He was also a member of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

William Hunter McNab died in December 1935. Hamish continued the practice under the existing title; his brother William Leiper McNab (born 21 March 1900), who had studied at Glasgow School of Art in 1915-16 and 1917-18, also worked in the family firm but never became a partner. The practice had very little architectural business after 1930. The office at 121 West George Street was also the studio of Hamish's sculptress wife, Fiona, and they supported themselves mainly by making garden statuary, craftwork and decorative work. In the late 1930s they had to downsize to the Aitken Studios at 551 Sauchiehall Street, and from 1940 practised from home.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1121, West George Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness19271935 

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 3William Leiper McNab1927(?) Assistant(?)Unclear whether he was still in the firm at this date
Item 2 of 3William Hunter McNabJanuary 19271935Partner 
Item 3 of 3James McNab (or Hamish McNab)January 19271935(?)Partner 

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 31929Netherlee UF Church Hall  GlasgowScotlandDesign exhibited
Item 2 of 31929St Wolstans ChurchWest Kilbride AyrshireScotland 
Item 3 of 31931Hillhead High School, War Memorial Gateway  GlasgowScotland 


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.