Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Spence & Son
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: Before 1877
Ended: After 1882
Bio Notes: William Spence was born at Biggar, the son of John Spence, a shoemaker and Margaret Kean, but the date of his birth has still to be established. His obituary gives his age as sixty-five (i.e. born c.1817), the registration of death as seventy-seven (i.e. born c.1806). In his early life he entered the office of John Bryce of Glasgow who was born c.1805, suggesting the later date; but as he was in practice by at least 1837 it may be that the earlier date is correct. He may have been an assistant rather than a pupil of Bryce as Gildard's reference appears to suggest. It is possible that he spent his earlier years in William Burn or David Bryce's Castle Street office as the first large house with which Spence's name is associated, Coulter Mains, 1838, is markedly of the Burn & Bryce school.

Spence made his name early as a theatre architect, and established a strong presence in Helensburgh when he was commissioned to prepare a feuing plan for the upper areas of the town in 1857. He also had what seems to have been a significant domestic practice in Ulster, but this remains somewhat elusive. His later commercial buildings - Stewart & MacDonalds in Buchanan Street and the Clydesdale, Dundee - have a refined Roman Corinthian treatment.

Spence married Margaret Field. She died on 9 June 1879. Spence died in Ardlui, Helensburgh on 22 June 1883 after a long illness during which period he was assisted by a son who had an independent practice at 187 St Vincent Street in 1876: this disappears when he seems to have returned to his father's practice which became William Spence & Son, shortly thereafter. Peter Smith alos appears to have been in the practice in 1880, giving the same address, 212 St Vincent Street.

William Spence's moveable estate amounted to 2414 8s 9d, but he probably owned significant heritable property.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1212, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1877After 1881 

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 3George Simpson18791882Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3Henry Field SpenceBefore 18791880Partner 
Item 3 of 3William SpenceBefore 1879(?)1880Partner(?) 

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 91877House for schoolteacherHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandExtension
Item 2 of 91877Tenement for Thomas Sharp, East Princes StreetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 3 of 91877Villa for John Jack, Montrose StreetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 4 of 91879Hermitage SchoolHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 5 of 91879House, Sutherand StreetHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandExtension
Item 6 of 91879RockmountHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 7 of 95 May 1879Carron BankHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandAdditions
Item 8 of 9c. 1879Stewart & McDonald's Warehouse  GlasgowScotlandRebuilding of south section and improvement of Buchanan Street frontage as a whole
Item 9 of 91881Burton HillHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotlandAddition


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.