Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Mitchell Whitelaw
Designation: Architect
Born: 8 June 1886
Died: 5 July 1913
Bio Notes: James Mitchell Whitelaw was born in Glasgow on 8 June 1886, the son of Charles S Whitelaw, cooper manager from Irvine and his first wife Jane Mitchell. The 1901 census records that he had six siblings: Mary (27), Margaret (22), Charles S (20), William (18), Jane M (16) and Tom M (8). By that date Charles Whitelaw had remarried. His second wife, Annie, may have been the mother of Whitelaw’s younger brother but that is not yet clear.

Whitelaw was articled to Alexander Skirving c. 1901-05, during which period he attended the Glasgow School of Art under Alexander McGibbon and, briefly, Eugène Bourdon. He won the Alexander Thomson Travelling Scholarship and was briefly in the office of Honeyman & Keppie prior to entering John James Burnet's London office where he worked on the British Museum and became a close friend of Thomas Smith Tait. While in Burnet's office he attended the Architectural Association where he won the Herbert Batsford prize and the RIBA silver medal for his drawings of Alfred Stevens's Wellington Monument in St Paul's Cathedral, a subject calculated to endear him to Burnet who was a great admirer of Stevens's work. In 1909 he entered the Royal Academy Schools, winning the Soane medallion in 1913 with a design for a new railway terminus at Charing Cross, London.

Together with Tait, Whitelaw entered the competition for the St Marylebone Town Hall in 1911, but lost to Edwin Cooper. In 1912 they entered the unofficial 'Builder' competition for the rebuilding of the Regent Street Quadrant, coming second. The design was published: its bay design owed too much to Burnet's Forsyth's building in Edinburgh and for the first time Tait and Whitelaw incurred Burnet's displeasure.

Whitelaw drowned at Bournemouth on 5 July 1913. Tait and A G Shoosmith together with other colleagues and fellow students then put together a memorial volume entitled 'Designs in Architecture by James Mitchell Whitelaw 1886-1913' published in 1916.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 46, Keir Street, Pollokshields, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1901 *  
Item 2 of 451, St Andrews Drive, Pollokshields, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1902After 1904 
Item 3 of 4Loancroft, Uddingston, Lanarkshire, ScotlandPrivate1905 *  
Item 4 of 4London, EnglandBusinessAfter 1905  

* 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 3Alexander Skirvingc. 1901c. 1905Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3(Sir) John James BurnetAfter 19051913Assistant 
Item 3 of 3Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintoshc. 1905Before 1909Assistant 

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 3After 1905British MuseumBloomsbury LondonEnglandKing Edward VII Wing (North Wing) and British Museum Avenue running N from new wing laid out -as assistant to Sir John James Burnet
Item 2 of 31911Marylebone Municipal Buildings  LondonEnglandUnsuccessful competition design, in collaboration with Thomas Smith Tait and ____ Sutton
Item 3 of 31912Regent Street Quadrant, 'Builder' competition design  LondonEnglandSecond premiated competition design, in collaboration with Thomas Smith Tait


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2Gray, A Stuart1985Edwardian Architecture: A Biographical Dictionary   
Item 2 of 2Tait, Thomas Smith, Shoosmith, A G et al.1916Designs in architecture by James Mitchell Whitelaw 1886-1913   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this architect:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builder11 July 1913  Obituary
Item 2 of 3Building News26 July 1913  Obituary
Item 3 of 3RIBA Journal26 July 1913 London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Information courtesy of Peter BiggsInformation via website Sent February 2009
Item 2 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Research on family history by Iain Paterson