Basic Biographical Details

Name: William Mackison
Born: 1833
Died: 24 November 1906
Bio Notes: William Mackison was born in Stirling in 1833, the son of William Mackison and his wife Mary Low whose previous married name had been Harvey. At that date the elder Mackison appears to have been a law clerk but he was appointed governor of Dundee prison in 1844.

William Mackison junior was educated at Dundee High School and spent some time in a solicitor's office before being articled in 1851 to his uncle, the civil engineer Francis Mackison, in Stirling. He was taken into partnership by 1858, the firm becoming F & W Mackison. At first he lodged with his uncle, but on 3 June 1862 he married Elizabeth Watts at Kersemill, St Ninians, and set up house at 23 King Street, Stirling. In or about the same year his father returned from Dundee to begin business as a photographer, but by the time of his death on 2 May 1868 he appears to have been an assistant in the Mackison practice.

For a time William Mackison was Master, Burgh Surveyor and Town's Architect of Stirling, but this appointment, still held in 1864, had been terminated by the time of The Architect's, Engineer's and Building Trades' Directory of 1868. On 20 November 1865 he became the second Scottish architect to be admitted FRIBA (David Bryce had been the first, in 1845; William Smith the first Associate, admitted 1842), the fellowship being conferred on the strength of his work at Cambuskenneth.

In 1868 William Mackison withdrew from the partnership with his uncle, having been appointed Burgh Engineer of Dundee, as successor to John Fulton who had emigrated to Texas. Immediately following his arrival he enforced Dean of Guild approval more strictly, retaining copies of plans submitted and occasionally amending drawings. For the police commission he replanned central Dundee, his proposals being embodied in the Improvement Act of 1871, and for upper Commercial Street and Whitehall Street and Crescent he prescribed the elevations, the former being redesigned at the attic after consultation with John Lessels. His Commercial Street elevations were accomplished Haussman-inspired architecture, but for the Whitehall Street elevations he recruited James Hutton. Elsewhere he radically replanned the infrastructure of the town in respect of water supply and sewerage. Planned the tramway system from 1881 onwards, carried out extensive river reclamation works and formed the Esplanade.

Although described by a later city engineer, George Hutton, and Hutton's depute William Lyall, as a 'very good engineer,' by 1900 Mackison had become in Frank Thomson's words 'just a noodle,' and heavily dependent on his staff and on his depute JamesThomson in particular. In February of that year he countered pressure to retire by intimating a claim for work beyond his duties, in particular accounts for work on the tramway system in 1881 for which accounts for £629, £21 and £92 8s had been presented and had never been paid. Although the Town Clerk Sir Thomas Thornton advised Lord Provost William Brownlee, the tramway convener, that it would be better to negotiate a settlement in Mackison's lifetime the Town Council voted against settling his claim by 23 votes to 8. Further trouble arose in May over the new Logie water main which had not been laid in advance of the tramway as instructed by George Baxter, the City's water engineer, resulting in the tramlines having to be lifted and relaid. In 1904 the City Architect William Alexander died and Mackison's depute Thomson resigned to succeed to his appointment, the Town Councillors having resolved to combine the posts of City Engineer and City Architect. Alexander's death appears to have caused Mackison to substantially revise his claim which when finally submitted on 23 March 1906 was £40,000 for all work beyond his duties as city engineer, much of it for work which should have fallen to Alexander who was fee-paid and which had been carried out by Mackison who was salaried (£500 p.a. in 1906). The size of his claim cost him the sympathy of the Town Clerk and a Committee of Investigation was appointed. On 5 April the Council suspended Mackison and he was locked out of his office at 93 Commercial Street; and on 19 July he was dismissed. On 11 August he lodged an action for an amended claim for £16,000, but he died at Kirkton, Auchterhouse on 24 November, his wife having predeceased him prior to 1891. The action was pursued by his executors but did not succeed. In ruling against the Mackisons, the judge appealed to the City to negotiate which encouraged them to appeal, but this failed, as did a further appeal to the House of Lords, the family being ruined by the costs.

Mackison's sons William M Mackison (born c 1868) and James W Mackison (born c 1870) were also civil engineers. James emigrated to India; what became of William is not yet known. They evidently trained in Edinburgh as in the 1891 census they were recorded as living with their aunts Mary and Jessie Margaret Mackison.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 5Murray Place, Stirling, Stirlingshire, ScotlandBusiness1868 *  
Item 2 of 5Police Chambers, West Bell Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusinessc. 1869 Check actual address
Item 3 of 58, Constitution Terrace, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness1890 *  
Item 4 of 593, Commercial Street, Dundee, ScotlandBusiness18931906 
Item 5 of 5Kirkton of Auchterhouse, Angus, ScotlandPrivate24 November 1906 * Place of death

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3Francis and William Mackison18581868Partner 
Item 2 of 3Francis MackisonBefore 1858 Apprentice 
Item 3 of 3Dundee Burgh Engineer's Office/Dundee City Engineer's Office18685 April 1906 as Burgh Engineer

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 7Alexander McCulloch18721876Chief AssistantIn Dundee Burgh Engineer's Office
Item 2 of 7James Thomson187319 July 1906AssistantIn Dundee Burgh Engineer's Office
Item 3 of 7James HuttonEarly 1880s1884DraughtsmanIn Dundee Burgh Engineer's Office
Item 4 of 7Henry Band (or Harry Band)c. 1890c. 1906DraughtsmanIn Dundee Burgh Engineer's Office
Item 5 of 7Reginald CraigLate 1890s * AssistantIn Dundee Burgh Engineer's Office
Item 6 of 7Richard G Murrayc. 1900 * DraughtsmanIn Dundee Burgh Engineer's Office
Item 7 of 7Robert Sibbaldc. 1900 * AssistantIn Dundee Burgh Engineer's Office

* earliest date known from documented sources.


RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 6(Sir) Robert Rowand Anderson1 June 1874for Fellowship; lapsed 1889
Item 2 of 6James Graham Fairley19 February 1877for Associateship
Item 3 of 6James Graham Fairley13 June 1892for Fellowship
Item 4 of 6Leslie Ower16 June 1890for Fellowship
Item 5 of 6Patrick Hill ThomsMid 1906for Fellowship
Item 6 of 6John Russell Walker20 March 1882for Associateship

Buildings and Designs

This 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 55c. 1853Coniston LodgeBridge of Allan StirlingshireScotlandPossibly involved as assistant
Item 2 of 551854Baptist ChurchStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 3 of 551858Viewfield UP ChurchStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 4 of 5518605-15 Clarendon PlaceStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 5 of 551860West UP ChurchLeslie FifeScotland 
Item 6 of 55c. 1860BeechcroftStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 7 of 55c. 1860EastwellBridge of Allan StirlingshireScotland'Probably' (HS)
Item 8 of 55c. 1860Mission SchoolStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 9 of 55c. 1860Raploch Model Steading and Workmen's housesRaploch StirlingshireScotland 
Item 10 of 55c. 1860Union HallStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 11 of 551861Well HouseBridge of Allan StirlingshireScotland 
Item 12 of 5518631 Queen's RoadStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 13 of 551864Cambuskenneth AbbeyCambuskenneth StirlingshireScotlandRestoration and excavation
Item 14 of 551864Villa for John ChristieStirling StirlingshireScotland 
Item 15 of 551865Callander LodgeCallander PerthshireScotland 
Item 16 of 551866Old Sauchie farm officesOld Sauchie StirlingshireScotland 
Item 17 of 551867Blair Drummond, factor's house  PerthshireScotlandAddition
Item 18 of 55Before 1868Blooming VillaBridge of Allan StirlingshireScotland 
Item 19 of 55Before 1868Callander WaterworksCallander PerthshireScotland 
Item 20 of 55Before 1868Doune Free ChurchDoune PerthshireScotland 
Item 21 of 55Before 1868Ferniebank HouseBlairforkie, Bridge of Allan? StirlingshireScotland 
Item 22 of 55Before 1868Rednock WaterworksRednock StirlingshireScotland 
Item 23 of 55Before 1868Sauchie WaterworksSauchie StirlingshireScotland 
Item 24 of 55Before 1868Stirling WaterworksTouch Hills StirlingshireScotland 
Item 25 of 55Before 1868Villa de LancasterBridge of Allan StirlingshireScotland 
Item 26 of 55Before 1868VillafrancaBridge of Allan StirlingshireScotland 
Item 27 of 551869Bonnethill Free ChurchHilltown DundeeScotlandIn private practice
Item 28 of 551870(?)Replanning of central Dundee  DundeeScotlandMackison as Burgh Engineer
Item 29 of 551871Commercial Street elevations  DundeeScotlandDesign elevations in consultation with John Lessels. Mackison as Burgh Engineer
Item 30 of 551871Municipal Offices  DundeeScotland1871 Improvement Act Design
Item 31 of 551872Balgay Park and Cemetery  DundeeScotlandFootbridge - overall responsibility
Item 32 of 551876Hilltown Free ChurchHilltown DundeeScotlandProposed reconstruction of plain church - large scheme with tower. Superseded by more modest proposals. Mackison in private practice
Item 33 of 551876Shops, offices and flats, High Street  DundeeScotlandElevations design by Mackison under the 1871 Improvement Act, Lot 2 on feuing plan
Item 34 of 551877Temporary Infectious Diseases Hospital  DundeeScotlandMackison as Burgh Engineer
Item 35 of 551878Public Markets and Abattoirs, Dock Street, Ferry Road and Market Street  DundeeScotlandAmbitious Gothic scheme originally proposed - more modest scheme substituted. Mackison as burgh engineer
Item 36 of 55c. 1878Offices at 15 Albert Square and 97 Commercial Street  DundeeScotlandDesigned elevation
Item 37 of 55Early 1870sNorthern Assurance Buildings  DundeeScotlandFaçade, as part of 1871 Improvement Act scheme
Item 38 of 551880Cattle MarketCarolina Port DundeeScotland 
Item 39 of 55c. 1883Whitehall Crescent  DundeeScotlandDesigned elevations in conjunction with James Hutton
Item 40 of 551885Whitehall Street  DundeeScotlandDesigned elevations - most of street executed by Robert Keith
Item 41 of 55c. 1885(?)Brough's Building  DundeeScotlandAfter 1871, probably c.1885
Item 42 of 551887Dundee Infectious Diseases Hospital  DundeeScotlandWith James Thomson as assistant
Item 43 of 551887Monument and Cairn, West Mains Hill, Kirkton of Auchterhouse AngusScotland 
Item 44 of 551891Corporation Offices  DundeeScotlandMackison as City Engineer
Item 45 of 551891Society of Friends Building  DundeeScotlandElevation
Item 46 of 55c. 1896Tenement, 101 Magdalen Yard Road  DundeeScotlandHarry Band (working under Mackison in Dundee Burgh Engineer's office) restyled elevations after a dispute between the Salmonds and Mackison (who did not like the Salmond design)
Item 47 of 551898Mather's Hotel  DundeeScotlandWas responsible for facades
Item 48 of 551900Central Fire Station  DundeeScotlandAs City Engineer
Item 49 of 551901Hilltown ClockHilltown DundeeScotland 
Item 50 of 55Before 1905Eastern Police Office  DundeeScotlandAs City Engineer
Item 51 of 55Before 1905Lochee Police Office  DundeeScotlandAs City Engineer
Item 52 of 55Before 1905Northern Police Office  DundeeScotlandAs City Engineer
Item 53 of 55Before 1905Western Police Station  DundeeScotlandAs City Engineer
Item 54 of 55Before 1906Caldrum Street washhouse  DundeeScotlandMackison as City Engineer
Item 55 of 55Before 1906Constable Street washhouse  DundeeScotlandMackison as City Engineer


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 4Architects Engineers and Building Trades Directory1868Architect's, Engineer's and Building Trades' Directory London, Wyman 
Item 2 of 4British Architectural Library, RIBA2001Directory of British Architects 1834-1914   
Item 3 of 4Dundee Yearbook1906   Obituary
Item 4 of 4RCAHMS1992Dundee on Record RCAHMSView from south of 73-97 Commercial Street, 15 Meadowside, 2 Murraygate (1897) p47, p49

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 2Dundee Advertiser24 March 1906  Numerous references from 24 March to August.
Item 2 of 2RIBA Journal22 December 1906v14London: Royal Institute of British Architectspp124-5 - obituary

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Personal information from Harry Band, former member of Mackison's staff, and from Frank Thomson. Also research by Elma Lindsay from census returns and birth, marriage and death registers.