Basic Biographical Details
|Kinross & Tarbolton
|John Kinross was born at Shore Road, Stirling, 3 July 1855. He was the second son of William Kinross (1810-74), the owner of a sizeable and successful carriage-building firm, William Kinross and Sons in Stirling, and his second wife, Ann Marshall (1821-99). He attended Stirling High School between 1865 and 1870, and was articled to John Hutchison at 190 West George Street, Glasgow. In 1875 he moved to the Edinburgh office of Wardrop & Reid where he was first recorded in drawings for the Prestonmains Farm Offices in June 1875. There he worked on a range of quality country house, ecclesiastical and British Linen Bank branch projects. Between the winter of 1880 and the spring of 1881, he undertook an architectural study tour of Italy, producing on his return the folio volume, 'Details from Italian Buildings Chiefly Renaissance', published by George Waterston & Sons in 1882. By the middle of 1882, Kinross was established in independent practice in partnership with Henry Seymour at 20 George Street, Edinburgh. Seymour and Kinross lasted as a partnership until 1889 and the quality of the work indicates that Seymour assumed a lower profile throughout that period.
Kinross was an active member of the Edinburgh Architectural Association (EAA), contributing regularly to its events and formally active from 1882-1905. This involved him with the leading figures of the east coast architectural profession and led to contact with several future patrons. By 1886, Kinross was a Vice-President of the EAA, subsequently serving as President between 1890 and 1892. Ecclesiastical commissions, notably for the Episcopal Church, dominated his early practice. He was never to become involved in speculative developments and as a consequence his domestic commissions demonstrated quality and refinement. In these years a distinctive, fused, modern yet traditional style developed out of the principles of the Queen Anne revival and his personal study of the Scottish seventeenth century.
Kinross was married on 13th August 1889 at Helmsley Parish Church to Mary Louisa Margaret Hall (known as Margaret), whom he had first met at dinner in the house which was his first major domestic commission, 1 Cluny Gardens. Two of their children would survive to adulthood, Eveline Mary and John Blythe.
In 1889 he moved to the Howe Street office from which he secured the patronage which brought his career to its height. From that year, he began a series of exhaustively researched and sensitively handled restorations. The first of these was at the Carmelite Friary Church, South Queensferry. The later projects were mostly gained through the informed and collaborative patronage of the Third Marquess of Bute. During the 1890s, two-thirds of Kinross's work came from the Marquess, including the major restorations at Falkland Palace, the Augustinian Priory, St Andrews, Pluscarden Abbey, and Greyfriars Church and Convent in Elgin, where he demonstrated his command of the issues in the current Restoration Debate and perceived 'best practice' of the time. Nonetheless domestic commissions remained the principal work in Kinross's practice and his preferred field. The reconstruction of Thurston House, Dunbar, from 1890, would open a succession of major country house designs. He was first engaged on the Manderston estate in Berwickshire in 1890, where his contribution escalated from ancillary structures to the reconstruction and extension of the house between 1901 and 1905, for his other major patron, Sir James Miller. The highpoint of his development of a traditional Scottish style was reached in the design of four houses in Mortonhall Road, Edinburgh, 1897, one of which was tailored to serve as his own residence. In conjunction with the restorations and domestic commissions of the 1890s were the completion of three contrasting churches, St Peter's Fraserburgh, St Mary's Chapeltown, Glenlivet and St Peter's, Torry, Aberdeen, where he successfully explored modern interpretations of Scots Romanesque and Gothic design.
Around 1897, heavily over-committed on Manderston and The Peel, Kinross invited Harold Ogle Tarbolton to join him in a short-term partnership. Tarbolton was born in 1869 in Nottingham, the son of Marriot Ogle Tarbolton, civil engineer, and was educated at Chigwell, Essex. He was articled to George Thomas Hine who then ran offices both in Nottingham and London, and at the end of his articles became assistant to Gerald Callcott Horsley in London, enabling him to study at the Royal Academy Schools in 1893-95. He then travelled abroad and either then or earlier studied at the University of Bonn, Germany. He commenced independent practice at 7 Frederick Street, Edinburgh (the 'Builder' obituary says that he commenced independent practice in 1892 though RIBAJ obituary says 1895). This was in partnership with a fellow student at the RA School and a colleague at Horsley's, Sydney Tugwell, also born in 1869 and previously articled to Edward John May from 1885 to 1889. At that date Tugwell was already in Edinburgh living with Hamilton More Nisbet in Riddle's Court following a period with Ernest Newton. In 1896 Tarbolton married Beatrice Dudgeon Gulland, daughter of Charles Gulland of Falkland. His partnership with Tugwell proved brief: by 1897 Tugwell had left to re-commence practice first at Scarborough and then at Bournemouth from 1900.
The practice relocated to 2 Abercromby Place in 1898. Kinross was President of the Edinburgh Architectural Society from 1898-99 and battled alongside Rowand Anderson and Washington Browne to gain recognition for architecture in the RSA.
In parallel with his classical work at Manderston, in the years around 1900, Kinross developed a high-quality but select portfolio of domestic work in other styles, ranging from the Cotswold Jacobean style mansion, lodge and stables at Carlekemp, to various estate cottages at Altyre, while continuing his expertise in stable design at both the latter, and at Ingliston. The Peel, with English and Scottish Renaissance inspiration, followed in 1904, and the remodelling of Ardtornish from 1908, with interior redecoration largely derived from earlier works. He worked with the leading east coast craftsmen, firms of cabinetmakers and interior specialists, notably Scott Morton & Co, Whytock & Reid, Morrison Co, Grandison & Sons, and Thomas Hadden ensuring continuing excellence in design, material and rendition.
The employment of particularly talented pupils and assistants confirmed both Kinross's commitment to the architectural profession and his need for support in a burgeoning career. Hamilton More Nisbett and William McCulloch passed through the Howe Street office, while Bailey Scott Murphy joined Kinross as an assistant from 1897 to 1902, and David Morton Kinross, a nephew, as an apprentice in the 1890s. Sir Matthew Montgomerie Ochterlony trained with Kinross from 1899 before becoming principal draughtsman and later entering into partnership with Tarbolton. Thomas Johnston Beveridge trained with Kinross from about 1903. John Ednie, was articled to the architect, while specialising in furniture design as much as architecture. James Grieve probably served as an apprentice in the office.
As a result of the deaths of his two major patrons, Bute and Miller, and facing a national decline in the market for quality residences, Kinross's practice suffered a sharp decline from 1905. In that year Tarbolton moved to Hay & Henderson, the surviving partner, George Henderson, having died in March that year. Kinross began to actively seek commissions, notably in a pre-competition proposal for the Usher Hall and National Gallery, 1906, and in his competitive report for a conservative restoration of Kirkwall's St Magnus Cathedral in 1908 where the commission went to the less talented George Mackie Watson.
(Biographical notes by D C Mays.)
Private and Business Addresses
|The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
|18A, Howe Street, Edinburgh, Scotland
|2, Abercromby Place, Edinburgh, Scotland
Employment and Training
Employees or Pupils
Buildings and Designs
|The following periodicals contain references to this :
|London: Royal Institute of British Architects
|p619 - obituary of Harold Ogle Tarbolton