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Basic Biographical Details
|Name: ||Thomas Smith |
|Designation: ||Architect |
|Born: ||1862 |
|Died: ||4 November 1941 |
|Bio Notes: ||Thomas Smith was born in 1862, the son of John Smith, colliery manager, and his wife Jane Nimmo. He was educated at Rosehall Works School and at Gartsherrie Academy after his family moved to Coatbridge in 1871. In 1877 he was articled to James boucher, remaining with him as assistant until 30 November 1886. In the reference he provided on that date, Boucher described Smith as ‘most diligent’ and as ‘an expert and tasteful draughtsman…who would prove a valuable assistant to anyone requiring his services’. Although Boucher did not mention it, Smith had distinguished himself at the architecture and building construction classes at Glasgow School of Art and had caught the attention of ‘The British Architect (15 August 1884) with his designs for a village gaol, cricket pavilion, crofter’s homestead, fisherman’s and shepherd’s cottages and for a city club, the last of these an ambitious French Gothic courtyard design which won the National Bronze Medal. Stylistically it was akin to the work in that idiom of Ernest George and the early work of Aston Webb. |
In the same year, 1884, the School appointed Smith teacher (or instructor) of the reconstituted architecture class; and after Francis Newbery becasme headmaster in 1885 and succeeded in breaking away from the South Kensington system, the architectural classes were again reorganised on the lines of the Royal Academy Schools with the leading local architect and visitors. Alexander McGibbon being appointed an additional teacher in 1887.
Although at some point Boucher offered Smith the partnership which was eventually taken up by Henry Higgins, Smith preferred to commence independent practice in Coatbridge in 1887. In doing so he was meeting the wishes of his fiancée Ethel Semple, younger daughter of Thomas Semple, who had no wish to live in Glasgow. They were married by her uncle, the Reverend Thomas Semple, a Free Church minister in Aberdeen, at Melrose Cottage, Church street, Coatbridge on 22 August 1889.
Smith’s Coatbridge practice prospered and he was admitted to the Glasgow Institute of Architect in April 1893. In the meantime his role at the Glasgow School of Art had been changing somewhat as Newbery and the Governors absorbed the parallel educational section of the Glasgow Philosophical Society. In 1893 the Governors invited the Alexander Thomson scholar William James Anderson to give a course of lectures on the architecture of the Italian Renaissance and in 1894 they appointed him Directory of the architectural classes: Smith was no longer their effective head as senior teacher. On 7 June 1895 Smith resigned, the Governors acknowledging what he had evidently stated in his letter, that ‘your business will not allow your undertaking supervision of the class after the close of this session.’ In the same year Smith
took on Robert Thorn Ross (born 1878) as an apprentice. Ross remained with him as an assistant thereafter, and was made a partner in 1910. The partnership, its office being at 3 Church Street, Coatbridge, appears to have continued after the First World War but Ross was practising alone from Neilson Terrace by 1924 and later moved to Strathaven.
Smith designed only three large buildings, the Stewart & Lloyd’s offices of 1908, a large brick-built block in a classical-modern idiom which seems to have been influenced by German work of that time and Trades Hotels in Coatbridge and Greenock.
Although in later years he regretted not having accepted Boucher’s offer of a partnership because of the wider client base that would have brought, he prospered sufficiently to build a fine house in Lefroy Road, Coatbridge, later divided to accommodate his daughter whose husband had been injured in a mining accident, and build a housing development in Dunbeth Avenue, Coatbridge which consisted of a square of high-quality stone-built three-storey tenements. The latter was intended as an investment providing income for his retirement but in the event the rent restriction act limited rental income to the point where it did not do much more than cover the cost of maintenance.
Smith was active in public life, in 1895 becoming a member of Old Monkland Parish Council, subsequently a Magistrate and Police Judge and eventually Provost of Coatbridge for a term of three years. He was finally appointed as Deputy Lieutenant of Lanarkshire.
He died on 4 November 1941. His practice was inherited by R H Gibb and J G Lindsay Pate. Thomas Nimmo Smith, Thomas Smith's son, seems to have joined the practice in the 1960s as did Charles Wilson Vallance Thom. Branch offices of the firm were in Greenock and Dunoon.
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:|
| ||Address||Type||Date from||Date to||Notes|
|21, Lefroy Street, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland||Private|| ||1941|| |
|Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland||Business||1875|| || |
|28, Main Street, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland||Business(?)||1888|| || |
|3, Church Street, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, Scotland||Business||Before 1911||After 1939(?)|| |
Employment and Training
|The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|Smith & Ross||1910||Before 1924||Partner|| |
Employees or Pupils
|The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):|
| ||Name||Date from||Date to||Position||Notes|
|Robert Thom Ross||1895||c. 1900||Apprentice||Remained with Smith after apprenticeship and was subsequently taken into partnership|
|Robert Thom Ross||c. 1900||1910||Assistant|| |
|James O'Hanlon Hughes||1909||1915||Apprentice|| |
Buildings and Designs
|The following books contain references to this architect:|
|Peden, Allan||1992||The Monklands: an illustrated architectural guide|| ||RIAS||p38|
|RIBA||1930||The RIBA Kalendar 1930-1931|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects|| |
|RIBA||1939||The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940|| ||London: Royal Institute of British Architects|| |
|The following archives hold material relating to this architect:|
| ||Source||Archive Name||Source Catalogue No.||Notes|
|Courtesy of Thomas Smith III||Information sent to David Walker|| || |
© All rights reserved. From The British Architect 19 December 1884
© All rights reserved. From The British Architect 19 December 1884.