© All rights reserved. Courtesy of John Ross Esslemont © All rights reserved. Courtesy of John Ross Esslemont 

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Gordon Stansfield Esslemont
Designation: Architect
Born: 21 June 1908
Died: 22 February 1981
Bio Notes: Gordon Stansfield Esslemont was born at 35 Back Wynd, Aberdeen on 21 June, 1908, the son of James Cummine Esslemont, photographer, and his wife Elizabeth Black Watt. The building was both house and photographic studio.

The family moved to Brig House, Brig O’ Balgownie, Seaton, Aberdeenshire and the younger Esslemont started school at the Bridge of Don primary school in 1913. In 1921 he was enrolled for secondary school in Robert Gordons College, Aberdeen.

He was articled to D & J R McMillan from 15 November 1926 until September 1928. At that time he became a full time student at Gray’s School of Art, Robert Gordon’s College, Aberdeen, having previously attended evening classes there. In the third year of study he received the Smith bequest prize and was awarded his Diploma on 30 June 1930. He worked out his apprenticeship with D & J R McMillan and in 1931 to 1932 enrolled in a “post-diploma study” course at Gray’s School of Art. He attained a sufficiently high standard therein to justify an endorsement to his diploma on 27 July, 1932 and consequently he was exempted from the RIBA final examination in 1932.

Esslemont took a post as assistant to James Brown Nicol remaining with him for three years, but returned to D & J R McMillan as Chief Assistant in September 1934.

He married Alice Rennie Paterson on 25 December, 1936 and in December 1937 their first of three children, John Ross Esslemont was born who was named after Esslemont’s employer and mentor John Ross McMillan.

During the Second World War, Esslemont served with the Royal Artillery and was sent to Salisbury Plains for training followed by a posting in the Far East. During the voyage there he was attacked by a viral infection in his eyes and rendered almost blind, and was hospitalised for some weeks in Cape Town, South Africa. On recovery he was returned to the UK and transferred to Royal Engineer (construction) duties in Aberdeen, Huntly and finally Inverness for the final years of the war. On demobilisation he had reached the rank of Major.

He was admitted ARIBA on 12 December 1944, and ARIAS on 27 December of that same year, and FRIAS on 28 March 1951. By late 1944 he had re-joined the practice of D & J R McMillan, where he remained until the mid 1950’s. At this point he opened business on his own account with an office in Union Street, Aberdeen and when the D & J R McMillan practice closed on the death of J R McMillan in 1959, Esslemont bought their office premises at 105 Crown Street, Aberdeen and continued his practice from there as ‘ G S Esslemont, Architect and Surveyor’. His practice tackled a wide range of projects, many single family houses as well as housing developments in the Oldmeldrum area for his brother in law, Thomas Webster, a builder, and Provost of Oldmeldrum. He was involved with several commercial/industrial buildings and agricultural premises in the Aberdeenshire area, and his firm carried out many projects for the Clydesdale Bank throughout the North East. There were several hotel and bar lounge extensions and additions and he designed a new club house for Nigg Golf Club and as well as rebuilding that at Oldmeldrum. A significant part of his practice was carrying out residential property valuations for several building societies in Aberdeen, the Halifax and the Dunfermline being two major clients. In 1964 Esslemont and his wife bought the small private hotel next door to his office, the Brentwood Hotel at 101 Crown Street as well as owning 105 Crown Street. He connected the two premises but left the ground floor premises of the architectural practice space and drawing office separate and intact.

Esslemont retired from Architectural practice in 1970 and sold the office to William Bakewell and Sidney Ramsay. He and his wife also sold the now expanded “Brentwood Hotel” and moved to Johannesburg, South Africa to join their daughter Alison and her husband. However they tired of retirement after a couple of years and returned to Aberdeen and repurchased the hotel, which they ran until finally retiring in 1976. They moved to Oldmeldrum where he and his wife lived until 1981. He died on 22 February 1981 at the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

During his career Esslemont was an active member of the Aberdeen Society. Outwith his professional life he was a fine watercolourist and a member of the Aberdeen Arts Club. He loved golf and played on most of the golfcourses in the north east being a member at Murcar. At the Oldmeldrum Club the Halifax Building Society presented the annual ‘Gordon Esslemont Cup’. Esslemont was also a staunch supporter and season ticket holder of Aberdeen Football Club in the 1950’s and 60’s. The club used the Brentwood Hotel to accommodate many of the young new players, with Esslemont and his wife providing a ‘home away from home’. Several of these young men came back to Aberdeen to attend his funeral at the Aberdeen Crematorium in 1981.

He was survived by his wife and his three children, John Ross Esslemont (also an Architect) Alison Gordon Elizabeth Nielsen (Esslemont) and Gordon Webster Esslemont.

Biography compiled by John Ross Esslemont.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 1311, Primrosehill Gardens, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate1936 *1940 
Item 2 of 13Cautens, Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, ScotlandPrivate1944 *1945 
Item 3 of 1311, Primrosehill Gardens, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate19451949 
Item 4 of 139, Belvidere Street, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate19491956 
Item 5 of 1341½, Union Street, Aberdeen, ScotlandBusiness19531959Later 121 Union Street
Item 6 of 131, Station Road, Peterculter, Aberdeenshire, ScotlandPrivate19561958 
Item 7 of 1381, Broomhill Road, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate19581959 
Item 8 of 1318, St Mary's Place, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate19591964 
Item 9 of 13105, Crown Street, Aberdeen, ScotlandBusiness1959c. 1970 
Item 10 of 13Brentwood Private Hotel/101, Crown Street, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate1966 *1970Also 1972 to 1976
Item 11 of 139, Goldman Street, Florida, Transvaal, South AfricaPrivate(?)1971 *1972 
Item 12 of 13Seafield Drive East, Aberdeen, ScotlandPrivate19761977 
Item 13 of 135, Cromlet Place, Oldmeldrum, Aberdeenshire, ScotlandPrivate19771981 

* 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 3D & J R McMillan15 November 1926September 1928Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3James Brown NicolJune 1932September 1934Assistant 
Item 3 of 3D & J R McMillanSeptember 1934August 1940Chief Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this architect for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3George Angus Mitchell12 December 1944For Associateship
Item 2 of 3James Brown Nicol12 December 1944For Associateship
Item 3 of 3T Scott Sutherland12 December 1944For Associateship


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 2http://boards.ancestry.co.uk/ http://boards.ancestry.co.uk/localities.  Accessed March 2010
Item 2 of 2RIBA1950The RIBA Kalendar 1950-1951 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Courtesy of John Ross EsslemontInformation sent to Yvonne Hillyard Sent January 2013
Item 2 of 2H M Register HouseDeath Register  


© All rights reserved. Courtesy of John Ross Esslemont 

© All rights reserved. Courtesy of John Ross Esslemont

© All rights reserved. Courtesy of John Ross Esslemont 

© All rights reserved. Courtesy of John Ross Esslemont