Basic Biographical Details

Name: Albert Victor Gardner
Born: 1884
Died: 7 June 1944
Bio Notes: Albert Victor Gardner was born in Gloucestershire at the beginning of 1884, the son of Newton Gardner, clerk and Susannah Britter (spelling?). His parents seem to have moved location a lot in their early years as his older sister Lydia was born in Ireland and his younger sister Gladys in Sheffield. The family had settled in Glasgow by 1901 when his father gave a reception as commissionaire timekeeper. Later (in the 1918 voters' roll) he was an 'aeroplane tester'.

Albert Gardner studied at the Glasgow School of Art from 1901 to 1905 but it is not yet known to which practice he was articled. Gardner commenced independent practice in 1908 at the age of twenty-four with an office at 7 Bath Street, Glasgow, his earliest commissions being minor buildings for the Post Office and a roller skating rink in Argyle Street. In 1912 John A W Grant asked him to participate with him in applying with him for the contract to design Westerton Garden Suburb. They won the contract but the houses seem to have been designed by Grant under the direction of the English architect Raymond Unwin. The earliest drawings for this development (1913) bear Grant's name only at his 136 Wellington Street address, but those the following year are signed by Grant & Gardner, based at 164 Bath Street which had been Gardner's address since 1909. Only a few streets of the Westerton development were built before World War I. The partnership of Grant & Glen appears to have been dissolved during the War.

Throughout his career Gardner specialised in cinema design, his main client in the early years being the English entrepreneur Frederick Rendelle Burnett. His reputation quickly attracted others in the cinematographic industry, notably the James Graham circuit. Although inexpensively built, Gardner's early cinemas showed considerable originality. His first purpose-built cinema, the Majestic in Govanhill Glasgow (1911) was a hybrid of French chateau Renaissance and Glasgow Style modernism. The Partick Picture House of 1912 was notable for a multi-arched castellated theme while the Picture House Campbelltown of the same year featured oeil de boeuf windows and a deep recessed balcony under a superstructure of concentric oval forms. That same year Gardner's interest in the work of Frank Lloyd Wright made a first appearance at the Star Picture House in Maryhill. Two squat towers to either side of the entrance had shallow pitched broad-eaved roofs over horizontal and vertical strips of small paned windows; recessed between them was a curved first floor balcony rising into a higher tower, again with broad eaves. The glazed corner windows with no visible support for the roofs above were distinctly modernistic for their date.

The most notable of Gardner's pre-War World I cinemas was the Pavilion Picture House, Motherwell, of 1913, built on a prominent corner site. Its façade was an impressive tribute to the entrance hall of Wright's 1900 Susan Lawrence Dana House in Springfield Illinois, rising into an asymmetrically placed advertising tower of finned brickwork and glass. The Queen's Park Picture House Glasgow (1916) similarly featured Wright-inspired motifs, as did the Springburn Picture House, the Possilpark Picture Theatre and the Alex Picture House in Paisley, all built between 1919 and 1924. Nearly all of these were low-budget structures for poor neighbourhoods and it is in this context that we should read George Singleton's later comment that Gardner was 'the most awful faker in the world. He used every substitute for the decent thing'. In actual fact he was much the most innovative of the early Scottish cinema architects and it is to be regretted that he was never lucky enough to land a really well funded commission.

Gardner married Helen Dawson Greenlees, daughter of the painter James Greenlees, at Burlington House, Glasgow on 9 June 1915. They leased one of the Westerton Garden Suburb houses in Stirling Avenue where Gardner was to live for the rest of his life. After the First World War, in 1919, he entered into partnership with William Riddell Glen (born 1884). The practice, Gardner & Glen, had offices at 164 Bath Street, Glasgow and specialised in the design of 'atmospheric' cinemas. The partnership was dissolved in 1929 when Glen left for London having obtained an appointment as Architect to Associated British Cinemas Ltd.

Gardner's practice was unaffected by Glen's departure. He continued to receive commissions for new cinemas and the refurbishment and enlargement of existing ones. He took a financial interest in at least two new cinemas - the Kelvin Cinema, Glasgow, 1930 and the Orient Kinema, Glasgow, 1932 where he was a director along with a John McMahon and a C Cochrane. These two large cinemas, like the majority of those designed by Gardner in the 1930s, featured auditoria lavishly decorated in the 'atmospheric' manner. In 1936 Gardner went into partnership with Gavin Thomson, all his work thereafter being credited to Gardner & Thomson.

Gardner died of cirrhosis of the liver on 7 June 1944 at Claremont,16 Stirling Avenue, leaving moveable estate of £14,933 14s 10d. He was buried at Hillfoot Cemetery, Bearsden.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 76, Knowe Terrace, Cathcart, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivatec. 19001904 
Item 2 of 72, Oxford Terrace, Cathcart, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1904 *  
Item 3 of 725, Castle Mansions, Cathcart, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate19041909 
Item 4 of 77, Bath Street, Glasgoqw, ScotlandBusiness19081909 
Item 5 of 7164, Bath Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness19091929 
Item 6 of 74, Battlefield Avenue, Langside, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivatec. 1909c. 1915 
Item 7 of 7Claremont/16, Stirling Avenue, Westerton, Bearsden, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate19151944 

* 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 3Grant & Gardner1914c. 1915  
Item 2 of 3Gardner & Glen19191929Partner 
Item 3 of 3Gardner & Thomson1936   

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 4Alexander Buchanan Gardner1911Before 1914Assistant 
Item 2 of 4Daniel Gardner1912 Apprentice(?)May have been an assistant or apprentice?
Item 3 of 4John Easton19291932Chief AssistantPossibly in the firm of Gardner & Glen
Item 4 of 4James Hastie MacLeodc. 19291933Assistant 

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 651906Tenements, Royston Road  GlasgowScotlandIt is possible that these were designed by a different Gardner but yet to be confirmed.
Item 2 of 651909GPO Sorting OfficeDennistoun GlasgowScotland 
Item 3 of 651909Postman's HallKelvinside GlasgowScotland 
Item 4 of 651909Roller Skating Rink  GlasgowScotland 
Item 5 of 651911Majestic CinemaGovanhill GlasgowScotland 
Item 6 of 651911Theatre de Luxe  GlasgowScotland 
Item 7 of 651912De- Luxe Picture HouseRothesayButeArgyllScotland 
Item 8 of 651912Picture HouseCampbeltown ArgyllScotland 
Item 9 of 651912Scenic Picture HouseKinning Park GlasgowScotland 
Item 10 of 651912Standard Picture HousePartick GlasgowScotland 
Item 11 of 651912Star CinemaMaryhill GlasgowScotland 
Item 12 of 651913Pavilion Picture HouseMotherwell LanarkshireScotland 
Item 13 of 651913The Picture HouseDunoon ArgyllScotland 
Item 14 of 651914Vaudeville Picture House  GlasgowScotland 
Item 15 of 651914Westerton Garden Suburb, 1-31 and 2-16 NorthviewWesterton, Bearsden GlasgowScotlandIn partnership with Grant from 1914
Item 16 of 651914Westerton Garden Suburb, 2-16 Stirling AvenueWesterton, Bearsden GlasgowScotlandIn partnership from 1914.
Item 17 of 651914Westerton Garden Suburb, 25-107 and 46-64 Maxwell AvenueWesterton, Bearsden GlasgowScotlandIn partnership with Grant from 1914
Item 18 of 651914Westerton Garden Suburb: Village HallWesterton, Bearsden GlasgowScotland 
Item 19 of 651915Sandyford UF ChurchBreadalbane GlasgowScotlandConversion from Sandyford UF Church to Grove Cinema
Item 20 of 651916Elder CinemaGovan GlasgowScotland 
Item 21 of 651916Queen's Cinema  GlasgowScotland 
Item 22 of 651919Standard CinemaPartick GlasgowScotland 
Item 23 of 651919Standard Picture HousePartick GlasgowScotlandRebuilding
Item 24 of 651920Possilpark Picture HousePossilpark GlasgowScotland 
Item 25 of 651920Springburn Picture HouseSpringburn GlasgowScotland 
Item 26 of 651921Grosvenor CinemaHillhead GlasgowScotland 
Item 27 of 651923Alexandra CinemaPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandOriginal building
Item 28 of 65192430 Terraced Houses Albert, Skirving and Walton Streets  GlasgowScotland 
Item 29 of 651925Carlton Picture HouseTownhead GlasgowScotland 
Item 30 of 651925Coliseum Theatre  GlasgowScotlandMinor alterations when acquired for Scottish Cinema and Variety Theatres for use as a cinema in March 1925.
Item 31 of 651925Kinema  GlasgowScotland 
Item 32 of 651925Paragon Picture House  GlasgowScotlandRebuilding
Item 33 of 651926Alexandra CinemaPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandExtensive alterations
Item 34 of 651927CinemaAyr AyrshireScotlandProposed new cinema
Item 35 of 651927Gaiety TheatreClydebank DunbartonshireScotlandReconstruction
Item 36 of 651927The Lorne CinemaIbrox GlasgowScotlandRebuilding
Item 37 of 651928Strathclyde Super CinemaDalmarnock GlasgowScotland 
Item 38 of 651928Wellington PalaceGorbals GlasgowScotlandRebuilding of 1874 Music Hall
Item 39 of 651928West End Picture HousePaisley RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 40 of 651929Kelvin CinemaFinnieston GlasgowScotland 
Item 41 of 651929Regal CinemaGreenock RenfrewshireScotlandAlterations
Item 42 of 651929Ritz Cinema  EdinburghScotland 
Item 43 of 651930Astoria CinemaPossilpark GlasgowScotland 
Item 44 of 651930Housing at Rutherieston  AberdeenScotland 
Item 45 of 651930New Century TheatreMotherwell LanarkshireScotlandAlterations to by then New Century Picture House
Item 46 of 651930Standard Picture HousePartick GlasgowScotlandFurther rebuilding
Item 47 of 651930Star CinemaMaryhill GlasgowScotlandRebuilding and enlargement
Item 48 of 651930The Picture HouseDunoon ArgyllScotlandAlterations
Item 49 of 651930The Picture PalaceClydebank DunbartonshireScotlandAlterations
Item 50 of 651931Crown Picture HouseAyr AyrshireScotlandAlterations
Item 51 of 651931Elder CinemaGovan GlasgowScotlandExtensions
Item 52 of 651931Orient CinemaAyr AyrshireScotland 
Item 53 of 651931Orient Cinema, Sword Street and Gallowgate junction  GlasgowScotland 
Item 54 of 651931Regal CinemaStirling StirlingshireScotlandChris Doak gives Gardner who perhaps submitted designs but did not eventually get the job.
Item 55 of 651931Savoy Cinema  EdinburghScotland 
Item 56 of 651933Alexandra CinemaPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandRefurbishment
Item 57 of 651934Picture HouseCampbeltown ArgyllScotlandRebuilding and enlargement
Item 58 of 651935Kelvin CinemaFinnieston GlasgowScotlandReconstruction and additions
Item 59 of 651936Motor Showrooms, garage and officesShawlands GlasgowScotland 
Item 60 of 651936Queen's Cinema  GlasgowScotlandNew cinema?
Item 61 of 651938Alhambra Picture HouseBellshill LanarkshireScotlandAlterations
Item 62 of 651938Grand Central Picture House  GlasgowScotlandAlterations
Item 63 of 651938Large Block of Flats  AberdeenScotland 
Item 64 of 651938The Knowe, Queen's Drive  GlasgowScotlandHouse divided into two flats, upper and lower
Item 65 of 651939Aberdeen Royal InfirmaryForesterhill AberdeenScotlandNew Radiology Department


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 2Johnston, W T2003Artists of Scotland Officina Publications CDROM 
Item 2 of 2Post Office Directories     

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this :
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Chris DoakInformation via website Additional information sent August 2007