Basic Biographical Details

Name: James Barbour & Son
Born: 1895
Died: 1896
Bio Notes: James Barbour was born in 1834 in the parish of Dunscore, his twin brother being named Robert, later of the drapery firm of Barbour & Sons. Their father farmed at Shangan and was one of the founders of the Reformed Presbyterian Church at Dunscore, later Craig United Free Church.

The twins went to school at Glenesslin and c.1848-49 James was articled to Walter Newall, architect and civil engineer in Dumfries (Barbour's obituary refers to 'Adam' Newall, perhaps a son who predeceased him). About 1854 Barbour sought wider experience in an unrecorded Glasgow office: his early involvement in Newtonairds suggests that he may have had some connection with the architects of that house, Peddie & Kinnear.

In 1860 Barbour set up practice as architect and civil engineer at 27 Buccleuch Street which was house as well as office, and seems to have largely succeeded to the practice of Walter Newall who retired in or about that year and died in 1863. After some years he married the daughter of the Dumfries ironmonger James Halliday and at some point joined the Established Church becoming an elder at St Michael's. The practice moved to 134 High Street in or before 1863 and remained there until 1870. In that year he made a short-term move to 60 High Street but in 1871 Barbour acquired 33 (from 1898, 53) Buccleuch Street and then (1872) built St Christopher's, a fine Gothic villa at the corner of English Street and Hood's Loaning, for his own occupation. Its design was substantially repeated at Park House (built about the same date). At the time of Barbour's commencement of practice in 1860 his brother had already been in business as a draper in High Street for some years: he prospered, in 1878-79 commissioning his brother to design a large department store for him in Buccleuch Street when the High Street shop became too small.

The Barbours had two sons and a daughter. The elder brother trained with his father as a civil engineer, mainly on the several water schemes for which he was responsible and emigrated to South Africa where he became engineer to the Corporation of Port Elizabeth. The younger son Robert, named after his uncle, was also apprenticed to his father. He became a partner in 1895 and assisted MacGibbon and Ross with their accounts of Kirkconnel Tower and Isle Castle but emigrated to New South Wales.

On his son's departure for Australia in 1896 Barbour recruited an assistant, John McLintock Bowie (b. 1871), who had been articled to Thomas Frame & Son of Alloa in 1886 and had remained with them as assistant until 1895 when he undertook a study tour in England and Scotland which extended into the following year. He became an assistant to James Barbour of Dumfries in spring 1896 and commenced practice on his own account in 1899, although still assisting Barbour with some projects, and finally joined Barbour in partnership in 1902. Although now advanced in years Barbour remained active in the practice, particularly in respect of works of an antiquarian or ecclesiastical nature.

Barbour was one of the ablest Scottish architects in the provinces in the mid-19th century with an individual approach to Gothic best seen at the Cumberland Street Reformed Presbyterian Church in Glasgow, now unfortunately demolished. On 6 March 1866 he joined the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Scoiety and was later elected a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of Scotland. He became a distinguished archaeologist, his interests being reflected in the late Scots Gothic tracery proposed in the original 1876 scheme for Closeburn Church and repeated in his later churches. He excavated the Roman station at Birrens in the parish of Middlebie in 1895, the results being published jointly with Dr James Macdonald.

Barbour died of paralysis (probably a stroke) on 5 May 1912 while on holiday with his daughter in Harrogate, his library and collections being sold by Peter Stobie in November. His wife predeceased him on the same date nine years earlier, and his brother Robert some twenty months earlier in September 1910.

The practice was continued by Bowie who was elected FRIBA on 2 December 1907, his proposers being Neil Campbell Duff, Horatio Kelson Bromhead of Glasgow and Percivall Currey of London. He moved office from Buccleuch Street to 27 Castle Street in 1919, and in the same year took his former chief assistant David Robertson into partnership following the latter's return from war service. Robertson left in 1924, but another partner, C M Middleton, was taken on in 1940, the practice still retaining the style of Barbour & Bowie until 1946 when it was merged with that of M Purdon Smith, originally established in Lockerbie in 1922. Smith died in 1954 and Bowie in 1957.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 133, Buccleuch Street, Dumfries, Dumfriesshire, ScotlandBusiness18951896 

Employment and Training

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 2James Barbour18951896Partner 
Item 2 of 2Robert Barbour18951896Partner 

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 31895Crawfordjohn ManseCrawfordjohn LanarkshireScotland 
Item 2 of 31895Dalbeattie ManseDalbeattie KirkcudbrightshireScotland 
Item 3 of 31895St Andrews SchoolDumfries DumfriesshireScotlandFurther work


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 2Bailey, Rebecca M1996Scottish architects' papers: a source book Edinburgh: The Rutland Press 
Item 2 of 2Wolffe, Antony C1996James Barbour architect, civil engineer and archaeologist Transactions of the Dumfriesshire and Galloway Natural History and Antiquarian Society, Vol LXX1 

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1Dumfries Standard and Advertiser8 May 1912