Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Gaff Gillespie
Born: 17 September 1870
Died: 7 May 1926
Bio Notes: John Gaff Gillespie was born on 17 September 1870 at 76 Abbotsford Place, Tradeston, Glasgow, the eldest of at least nine children of Alexander Gillespie, a Gorbals baker who originated from Duntocher, and his wife Margaret Gaff from Polmont. He was articled to James Milne Monro from 1886 to 1891, concurrently attending classes at Glasgow School of Art, and he won the Glasgow Institute of Architects prize in 1889 jointly with Charles Rennie Mackintosh. This brought him to the notice of William Forrest Salmon, by then in charge of his late father's firm James Salmon & Son, who engaged him in 1891. Like Mackintosh at Honeyman & Keppie, Gillespie was given design responsibility very early, notably at the free Flemish Renaissance Scottish Temperance League building in 1893 and the West of Scotland Convalescent Seaside Homes at Dunoon in 1895, by which time Gillespie was in charge of most of the design work. He was made partner in the same year, the everyday work of the practice having grown as a result of Forrest having secured some of the business of the British Linen Bank, whose architects were usually J M Dick Peddie & Washington Browne.

Forrest's son James Salmon (Junior) joined the family firm in March 1895, having previously commenced his apprenticeship there before moving to William Leiper's office and subsequently touring the continent. For the next few years and even beyond the individual design responsibilities of Gillespie and James Junior are not always easy to separate. James became a partner in 1898, but neither his nor Gillespie's name was acknowledged in the practice title until November 1903 when the firm became Salmon Son & Gillespie. Unlike the diminutive James Junior, Gillespie was very tall, slim and cleanshaven with a calm equable temperament.

Probably due to the influence of Forrest Salmon, who was a Governor of Glasgow School of Art, President of the Glasgow Institute of Architects 1892-94, and a member of the RIBA Council, both Gillespie and James Junior were admitted directly to Fellowship of the RIBA on 3 December 1906, Gillespie's proposers being Monro, Thomas Lennox Watson, Leiper and Forrest Salmon. By this time both Gillespie and James Junior had travelled extensively, Gillespie's nomination paper recording travel in Italy (one month in 1902) and Spain and Morocco (one month in 1905).

By the early 1900s Gillespie and Salmon's styles had begun to diverge, Gillespie's work tending to be a simplified free classic and Salmon's still a sculpturesque art nouveau as seen in the alternative elevational treatments in the competition for the new Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College competition of 1901, both partners adopting a highly simplified arts and crafts style for domestic, cottage hospital and golf clubhouse work. But from 1904 when they received the commission for Lion Chambers both Gillespie and James Junior had become interested in the possibilities of reinforced concrete, working closely with the structural engineer Louis Gustave Mouchel, the British-based representative of Francois Hennebique. Within the firm Forrest seems to have been responsible for the 'scheming out' of commissions, the detailed design work being delegated to Gillespie or to his son James. Forrest was latterly known as the commercial traveller adept at moving in Parish Council School Board and clubland circles to obtain directly commissioned work for the practice which spent much of its time on designs for national and local competitions, none of which it succeeded in actually winning until 1908 when William Leiper selected their design for Stirling Municipal Buildings which was mainly Gillespie's work. Construction was, however, some years away and in the summer of 1911 Forrest began to suffer from cancer; he died on 7 October.

While the Finance Act of 1909 had probably affected the prosperity of the practice as it had so many others, Forrest Salmon's will proved the catalyst for the dissolution of the partnership in June 1913. The will made no provision for James to inherit his share of the practice; instead, it remained part of his trust estate and entitled his stepmother, Forrest's second wife Agnes Cooper Barry, to a share of such profits as the firm had at that time. Gillespie now became senior partner and as James Junior had spent all his income on foreign travel and motoring (as a letter to his brother Hugh of 18 August 1910 records) he could not afford to buy out either Gillespie or his stepmother. Gillespie bought out Agnes's trust estate interest, retaining the office in Mercantile Chambers, the archive and the Stirling commission. James moved out to a rented flat at 48 Jane Street, Blythswood Square which was both home and office, apparently without even a secretary. He retained the commission received in 1909 for the Admiralty Village at Cove Farm, Greenock of which only a few houses had been built in 1910, and was allowed to revive the name of the firm as it had existed prior to 1903, James Salmon & Son, later abbreviated simply to James Salmon FRIBA.

Gillespie died on 7 May 1926, leaving estate of 1,950 4s 11d to his wife Agnes Harriet Spencer, whom he had married late in life on 14 September 1923 at 4 King's Park Avenue (then his or her house). His executor was William Alexander Kidd, his partner since 1918. Born in 1879 he had joined the practice in 1898 as an apprentice from Greenock. He became chief draughtsman sometime before 1911, when he was admitted LRIBA, his proposers being Salmon, Gillespie and Harry Edward Clifford. Kidd continued the practice under the same name and a year later took into partnership Jack Antonio Coia, who had joined the firm in 1915 before working in several London offices, and had only recently returned to Glasgow. Kidd died later that same year, and Coia continued the practice alone under the same name of Gillespie Kidd & Coia. The entire archive of the Salmon practice was sent for pulping when Coia was interned in 1940.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 776, Abbotsford Place, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1870 Place of birth
Item 2 of 75, Matilda Terrace, Strathbungo, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1884After 1891 
Item 3 of 757, Nithsdale Road, Strathbungo, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1894After 1897 
Item 4 of 7Mercantile Chambers/53, Bothwell Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessc. 1898After 1915 
Item 5 of 75, Camphill Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1901 *  
Item 6 of 7Overtoun/4, King's Park Avenue, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivateBefore 1923After 1926 
Item 7 of 738, Bath Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1924 *  

* 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 3James Milne Monro18861891Apprentice 
Item 2 of 3James Salmon & Son1891November 1903Partner 
Item 3 of 3Salmon, Son & GillespieNovember 1903June 1913Partner 

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 7George Shaw Shand19131923ApprenticeWith the exception of war service, 1915-19
Item 2 of 7William Allan MollisonJune 1913 Assistant 
Item 3 of 7William Alexander KiddJune 19131918Chief Draughtsman 
Item 4 of 7David Arthur CarmichaelAfter 19131914Assistant 
Item 5 of 7Jack Antonio Coia19151919Apprentice 
Item 6 of 7William Alexander Kidd19181926Partner 
Item 7 of 7James Watson19191923Apprentice 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 4William Leiper3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 2 of 4James Milne Monro3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 3 of 4William Forrest Salmon3 December 1906for Fellowship
Item 4 of 4Thomas Lennox Watson3 December 1906for Fellowship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 7John (Ian) Shaw BoydJune 1920For Associateship
Item 2 of 7David Arthur CarmichaelEarly 1915for Associateship
Item 3 of 7Charles Ewan20 March 1911for Licentiateship
Item 4 of 7Robert Ewan (junior)20 March 1911for Licentiateship
Item 5 of 7Charles Alfred Harding4 December 1911for Associateship
Item 6 of 7John McNee Jeffrey30 November 1908for Associateship
Item 7 of 7William Alexander Kidd20 July 1911for Licentiateship

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 1181893Scottish Temperance League building  GlasgowScotlandOriginal building
Item 2 of 1181894Marine HotelTroon AyrshireScotland 
Item 3 of 118c. 1894House, Onslow DriveDennistoun GlasgowScotlandHugh Alexander Salmon apparently responsible for design, at end of his apprenticeship
Item 4 of 1181895Dunoon HydropathicDunoon ArgyllScotlandExtensive new buildings
Item 5 of 1181895Higginbotham's Springfield Works  GlasgowScotland 
Item 6 of 118After 1895Interior work for R Hunter Craig MP   ScotlandProbably involved
Item 7 of 1181896Deaf and Dumb InstituteLangside GlasgowScotlandEarn Cottage and Boys' Home and alterations to rear classrooms
Item 8 of 1181896Glasgow School of Art  GlasgowScotlandUnsuccessful competition design
Item 9 of 1181896Scheme for villa     
Item 10 of 1181896Tenements, Rose Street  GlasgowScotlandAddition of toilet accommodation
Item 11 of 118189722 Park Circus  GlasgowScotlandInteriors - internal alterations, including billiard room (1905)
Item 12 of 1181897British Linen BankGovan Cross GlasgowScotland 
Item 13 of 1181897Glasgow Rubber WorksNorth Kelvinside GlasgowScotlandAddition
Item 14 of 1181897Mercantile Chambers  GlasgowScotland 
Item 15 of 1181897Post OfficeGovan Cross GlasgowScotland 
Item 16 of 1181898Bakery for J & B Stevenson  GlasgowScotlandVan shed and stables
Item 17 of 1181898GowandeanLochgoilhead ArgyllScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 18 of 1181898RowantreehillKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 19 of 1181898St Andrew's Free Church Hall  GlasgowScotlandResponsible for design
Item 20 of 1181898St Vincent Chambers  GlasgowScotland 
Item 21 of 1181898Village HallLochgoilhead ArgyllScotland 
Item 22 of 1181899British Linen Bank and TenementHutchesontown GlasgowScotland 
Item 23 of 1181899Glasgow Savings BankAnderston Cross GlasgowScotland 
Item 24 of 1181899Shop, Union Street  GlasgowScotlandAlterations to shop and basement foundation
Item 25 of 1181899Tenements, Charlotte Street  GlasgowScotlandToilet additions
Item 26 of 1181899Tenements, High Street and Duke Street  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - unsuccessful
Item 27 of 1181900Eastern District Hospital  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 28 of 1181900House, 12 University Gardens  GlasgowScotland 
Item 29 of 1181900Offices, West Regent Street  GlasgowScotlandAlterations and conversion to tearooms and restaurant
Item 30 of 1181900Semi-detached block of houses  GlasgowScotland 
Item 31 of 1181900Singer Manufacturing Company WorksKilbowie DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations to offices
Item 32 of 1181900Stirling Castle, Palace of James VStirling StirlingshireScotlandDrawing of north facade - presumably for interest/inspiration only? ('J Gillespie' - probably either John Gaff Gillespie or James Ross Gillespie)
Item 33 of 118c. 1900Municipal Offices and bankOban? Argyll?ScotlandSketch design
Item 34 of 118Late 1900 or early 1901Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - unsuccessful
Item 35 of 1181901Art Nouveau archway     
Item 36 of 1181901Deaf and Dumb InstituteLangside GlasgowScotlandAlterations to Earn Cottage and Boys' Home
Item 37 of 1181901Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901, electric fire and clock overmantelKelvingrove Park GlasgowScotland 
Item 38 of 1181901Lloyd Morris Memorial ChurchOatlands GlasgowScotlandThis was won in competition by Gillespie.
Item 39 of 1181901Marine HotelTroon AyrshireScotlandAddition, forming L Plan
Item 40 of 1181901Shop, Union Street  GlasgowScotlandAlterations to shopfront
Item 41 of 1181901Tenements, Dale StreetBridgeton GlasgowScotlandToilet additions
Item 42 of 118190214-15 (or 13 and 14) Woodlands Terrace  GlasgowScotlandExtension and internal remodelling
Item 43 of 1181902Barony Parochial AsylumLenzie LanarkshireScotlandDesign for a village asylum - not built
Item 44 of 1181902Barony Parochial AsylumLenzie LanarkshireScotlandNurses' quarters and pathological unit
Item 45 of 1181902British Linen Bank Head Office  GlasgowScotlandAlterations, additional floors and corner dome
Item 46 of 1181902Carnegie Public LibraryRutherglen LanarkshireScotlandCompetition entry - unsuccessful
Item 47 of 1181902Newton Park SchoolAyr AyrshireScotlandCompetition entry - unsuccessful
Item 48 of 1181902Three large office blocks  GlasgowScotlandProposals only
Item 49 of 1181902Whitehill Street SchoolDennistoun GlasgowScotlandThree storey classroom extension
Item 50 of 118After 1902Lanfine Cottage Home for Consumptives, BroomhillKirkintilloch DunbartonshireScotlandBuilt to revised plans
Item 51 of 1181903British Linen Bank  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 52 of 1181903Cranstonhill Bakeries  GlasgowScotlandPartial remodelling
Item 53 of 1181903Elgin Place Mission Halls  GlasgowScotlandCompetition entry - unsuccessful
Item 54 of 1181903Gallowhill House, Motor Car House and Chauffeur's HousePaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 55 of 1181903Hamilton Municipal Buildings and Public LibraryHamilton LanarkshireScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 56 of 1181903Plantation Bakery  GlasgowScotlandExtension
Item 57 of 1181903Renfrew Parish Church HallsRenfrew RenfrewshireScotlandCompetition entry - not successful
Item 58 of 1181903Tenements, Dale Street  GlasgowScotlandToilet addition
Item 59 of 1181904Catholic Apostolic Church  GlasgowScotlandBaptistery and new aisle
Item 60 of 1181904Kirkintilloch Town Hall and Municipal BuildingsKirkintilloch DunbartonshireScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 61 of 1181904Lion Chambers, Hope Street  GlasgowScotlandWith Louis Gustave Mouchel of the Yorkshire Hennebique Company as structural engineer
Item 62 of 1181904MiyanoshitaKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 63 of 1181904St Peter's Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 64 of 1181904WalfordPrestonpans East LothianScotlandAdditions
Item 65 of 118190588 West Regent Street  GlasgowScotlandAlterations and extension
Item 66 of 1181905British Linen BankThurso CaithnessScotlandAlterations
Item 67 of 1181905British Linen BankStromnessMainlandOrkneyScotland 
Item 68 of 1181905British Linen BankKirkwallMainlandOrkneyScotland 
Item 69 of 1181905CottageKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 70 of 1181905Cottages at BrechinBrechin AngusScotland 
Item 71 of 1181905Den O' GryffeKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotlandOriginal house
Item 72 of 1181905Mitchell Library  GlasgowScotlandCompetition entry - not successful
Item 73 of 1181905North LodgeEdzell AngusScotland 
Item 74 of 1181905Workshop and studio for William NicolMount Florida GlasgowScotland 
Item 75 of 1181906BolfraxGiffnock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 76 of 1181906British Linen Bank Head Office  GlasgowScotlandNew telling room
Item 77 of 1181906Campbell's Music Salon  GlasgowScotlandProposed alterations
Item 78 of 1181906Cartsburn Public SchoolGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 79 of 1181906DilkushKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 80 of 1181906NorthernhayKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotlandExtension
Item 81 of 1181907Den O' GryffeKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotlandExtension
Item 82 of 1181907Dunoon HydropathicDunoon ArgyllScotlandAlterations to kitchen and new wing
Item 83 of 1181907HoughtonKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotlandNew porch
Item 84 of 1181907Liberal Club  GlasgowScotlandCompetition design - unsuccessful
Item 85 of 1181907London County Hall  LondonEnglandCompetition design - unsuccessful
Item 86 of 1181907Nether KnockbuckleKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 87 of 1181907Perth Town HallPerth PerthshireScotlandCompetition design - unsuccessful
Item 88 of 1181907Stable, Winton AvenueGiffnock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 89 of 1181908BakeryStranraer WigtownshireScotland 
Item 90 of 1181908Bakery for J & B Stevenson  GlasgowScotlandAlterations to bakery
Item 91 of 1181908Blantyre Cottage HospitalBlantyre LanarkshireScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 92 of 1181908Glamorgan County Buildings  CardiffWalesCompetition design - not successful
Item 93 of 1181908Industrial shelterPossilpark GlasgowScotlandAlterations and additions
Item 94 of 1181908Kilmacolm Golf ClubKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotlandToolhouse, shelter and landscaping works
Item 95 of 1181908Stirling Municipal BuildingsStirling StirlingshireScotlandWon competition and secured job (building later completed by Gillespie after dissolution of partnership)
Item 96 of 1181909AuchendouneDoune PerthshireScotlandAlterations
Item 97 of 1181909Co-ownership cottagesKilmacolm/Kilmalcolm RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 98 of 1181909Cove Farm Garden SuburbGourock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 99 of 1181909Ferro Concrete shop and offices   ScotlandCompetition design
Item 100 of 1181909Hamilton Academy (and house at school)Hamilton LanarkshireScotlandCompetition design - not successful
Item 101 of 1181909Offices for the Scottish Assurance Company  GlasgowScotland 
Item 102 of 1181909Rutherglen Town HallRutherglen LanarkshireScotlandCompetition design for extension - not successful (extension not built)
Item 103 of 1181909VellorePolmont StirlingshireScotlandAddition of laundry
Item 104 of 11819106 Cathedral Square  GlasgowScotlandAlterations - new chimneypiece
Item 105 of 1181910Ashfield, Central Avenue, Beech AvenueCambuslang LanarkshireScotlandAlterations
Item 106 of 1181910Offices, 36 Oswald Street and Ann Street  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 107 of 1181910Offices, Blochairn Road  GlasgowScotland 
Item 108 of 118191115 Park Gardens SouthPartick GlasgowScotlandHearth and stained glass work
Item 109 of 1181911Bakery for J & B Stevenson  GlasgowScotlandAlterations to bakery
Item 110 of 1181911DrumlanrigPollokshields GlasgowScotlandRedecoration and heating
Item 111 of 1181911Housing Blackley EstateBlackley ManchesterEnglandArchitectural Competition Third place, 50 premium.
Item 112 of 1181911Pollok Golf ClubPollok Estate GlasgowScotlandMainly responsible for clubhouse
Item 113 of 1181912Cranstonhill Bakeries  GlasgowScotlandNew bakery
Item 114 of 1181912London Road UF Church Hall  GlasgowScotlandHall and offices
Item 115 of 11819131 North Park Terrace  GlasgowScotlandInstallation of electric light
Item 116 of 1181914Stirling Municipal BuildingsStirling StirlingshireScotlandBuilding constructed
Item 117 of 1181915DrumlanrigPollokshields GlasgowScotlandFurther work
Item 118 of 1181926F & J Smith Furniture Warehouse  GlasgowScotlandExtension (on Union Street) and insertion of restaurant; also ballroom. Died at design stage, but firm completed work.


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 7Glendinning, Miles1997Rebuilding Scotland: The Postwar Vision, 1945-75  Tuckwell Press Ltdp145 Lion Chambers
Item 2 of 7Gray, A Stuart1985Edwardian Architecture: A Biographical Dictionary  pp316-18
Item 3 of 7Miles Glendinning, Diane Watters, David Whitham Docomomo Scotland Leaflet  p227 Image of Lion Chambers
Item 4 of 7O'Donnell, Raymond2003The life and work of James Salmon architect, 1873-1924 Edinburgh: The Rutland Press 
Item 5 of 7Walker, David M1966Salmon, Son, Grandson and Gillespie Scottish Art Review, vol. X, no. 3, pp. 17-29 
Item 6 of 7Walker, David M1975The Partnership Of James Salmon And John Gaff Gillespie Service, A (ed.): Edwardian Architecture and its Origins (London: Architectural Press, 1975), 236-49 
Item 7 of 7Walker, David W1995The Salmon Collection Unpublished: copy in NMRSDSA text is adapted from this source

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3Builder23 July 1926   
Item 2 of 3Builder8 October 1926  p574 - details of estate
Item 3 of 3RIBA Journal17 July 1926 London: Royal Institute of British Architectspp495, 520

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Family details from Iain Paterson
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers F v17 p112 no1152 (microfilm reel 12)