Basic Biographical Details

Name: Alexander Brown Wilson
Born: 5 June 1857
Died: 5 May 1938
Bio Notes: Alexander Brown Wilson was born in Glasgow on 5 June 1857, the fifth son of George Wilson and his wife Margaret Watson. In 1864 the Wilson family emigrated to Brisbane where his father appears to have been a partner in the important Glasgow and Brisbane merchant firm of Wilson Brothers, to which John Dick Peddie's family was also linked. Alexander was educated at the Normal School in Brisbane and entered the Buildings Branch of the Queensland Public Works Department in 1873, becoming a clerk and junior draughtsman in 1875. He was promoted second draughtsman on 12 November 1877 under Colonel P H Scratchley, working mainly on defence works. When the Colonial Architect Francis Drummond Greville Stanley set up independent practice in Brisbane, Wilson joined him in March 1882 as his principal draughtsman, and while there attended Joseph Augustus Clarke's classes at the Brisbane School of Arts.

In 1882 Wilson won the competition for the completion of the west front of St Stephen's Cathedral in Brisbane while in Stanley's office. In 1883 he left for the UK to widen his experience and sit the qualifying exam. He worked briefly in a number of offices, which can be identified as Arthur Cates in London, and John Honeyman and David Thomson in Glasgow as they signed his nomination paper when he was admitted ARIBA on 9 June 1884; his competition design for the Wickham Terrace Presbyterian Church, made in 1886 indicates that he also spent some time in the office of Kinnear & Peddie as its general arrangement derives from Peddie's Pilrig Free Church. At some point during his UK visit he visited Paris.

Wilson returned to Brisbane to set up independent practice in Queen Street in August 1884 and had considerable success in competitions, enabling him to marry Ellen Mary Watt Martin, daughter of a prosperous auctioneer and agent on 3 September 1885. As one of the few Australian architects to have passed the qualifying exam, Wilson was a founder fellow of the Queensland Institute of Architects from 1888, serving as its honorary treasurer from 1889 to 1896 and its president for four terms between 1899 and 1923. Although he had been appointed architect to the Imperial Deposit Bank, Building and Investment Company and several other building societies from 1888, and was Chairman of the Stephens Divisional Board in 1890-91, his practice suffered in the recession of the earlier 1890s and he became a lecturer at Brisbane Technical College in 1899 and examiner in 1900-01.

Wilson's practice recovered in the early 20th century and in 1920 he took his architect and civil engineer son Ronald Martin Wilson, born 1886, into partnership. He retired in 1928 and died at Cumbrae, Thorne Street, Kangaroo Point on 5 May 1938.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this :
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 6Brisbane, AustraliaPrivate18641883 
Item 2 of 6London, EnglandPrivate1883 or 1884 *  
Item 3 of 611, Bothwell Street, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate1883 or 1884 *  
Item 4 of 623, Eagle Street, Brisbane, AustraliaPrivate(?)1884 *  
Item 5 of 6Queen Street, Brisbane, AustraliaBusinessAugust 1884Before 1928 
Item 6 of 6Cumbrae, Thorne Street, Kangaroo Point, Brisbane, AustraliaPrivate5 May 1938 * 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 8Queensland Public Works Department18731875Apprentice 
Item 2 of 8Queensland Public Works Department187512 November 1877Junior DraughtsmanClerk and Junior Draughtsman
Item 3 of 8Queensland Public Works Department12 November 1877March 1882Second Draughtsmanworking under Colonel P H Scratchley, mainly on defence works
Item 4 of 8Francis Drummond Greville StanleyMarch 18821883Chief Assistant 
Item 5 of 8Arthur Cates18831883(?)AssistantProbably
Item 6 of 8John Honeyman1883(?)Before 1884Assistant 
Item 7 of 8Kinnear & PeddieAfter 1883Before 1884Assistant 
Item 8 of 8David ThomsonAfter 1883Before 1884Assistant 


RIBA Proposers

The following individuals proposed this for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 3Arthur Cates9 June 1884for Associateship
Item 2 of 3John Honeyman9 June 1884for Associateship
Item 3 of 3David Thomson9 June 1884for Associateship

RIBA Proposals

This proposed the following individuals for RIBA membership (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate proposedNotes
Item 1 of 1Edwin Evan Smith20 July 1911for Licentiateship


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this :
Item 1 of 2Watson, Donald and McKay, Judith1994Queensland Architects of the 19th Century Brisbane: Queensland Museum 
Item 2 of 2Who's Who in Australia1927Who's Who in Australia   

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this :
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 1RIBA Journal1939v46London: Royal Institute of British Architectsp 983

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 Information from David Stark and from research by Iain Paterson
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers A v9 p61 (microfiche 35/A4)