© All rights reserved. MacLehose, James (1886). Memoirs and portraits of one hundred Glasgow Men who have died during the last thirty years p21-24 (Courtesy of Iain Paterson) © All rights reserved. Letter presented to Dictionary January 2015. 

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: John Baird 'Primus' (John Baird I)
Designation: Architect
Born: 1798
Died: 18 December 1859
Bio Notes: John Baird (called by Gildard 'Primus' to distinguish him from the second John Baird, 1816-93) was born in 1798 at Dalmuir, the son of Thomas Baird, wright, and his wife Agnes. He was articled to a relative, Shepherd, who died in 1818 and Baird, only twenty and just out of his apprenticeship, took over the business and quickly built up a reputation second only to David Hamilton's.

Baird's style is marked by an extreme classical reserve and severity. From the very first his architecture was remarkably mature as could be seen at Greyfriars Church, a design not without originality. His style changed little, the posthumously completed Gartsherrie Office being far more like 1820 than 1860. Only at the McDonald Muslin Warehouses was his commercial architecture notably Italian Renaissance rather than classical. The possibilities of iron made a strong appeal to his essentially practical mind and in 1855-56 he erected the Iron Building on Jamaica Street Glasgow in conjunction with the iron-founder Robert McConnell who held the patents for the malleable iron beams used in its construction. Even in his later Gothic work he clung tenaciously to the style of the 1820s, his mansion at Urie, Kincardineshire (1855) being in the late Tudor idiom evolved by Wilkins and Burn forty years before. He refused to take part in competitions, and earned a reputation for attention to detail, probity and honesty, which brought him many commissions as valuer and arbiter.

John Baird died at Westfield, Partick on 18 December 1859 and was buried in Glasgow Necropolis (Section Sigma lair 84). He had suffered from chronic brain disease from 1855 until his death which was almost certainly aggravated by the non-payment by the Glasgow Airdrie & Monklands Railway Company of his fees for the Woodlands Hill project and most of the work from that period must be James Thomson's: he must however have had periods of lucidity as he took Thomson into partnership shortly before he died as noted by Gildard. Thomson probably designed the Macdonald warehouse and the details of the Iron Building and continued the practice of Baird and Thomson, but he was not included as such in the directory issued in 1859. Alexander Thomson worked with Baird until 1849, when he joined in partnership with the second John Baird, who was Thomson's brother-in-law, but according to Gildard, no relation of the first John Baird.

Baird was survived by his wife Janet Bryson or McKean, whom he had married in 1837 and who died on 24 April 1887, and his two daughters, Flora born c1838 and Agnes born c.1841. He had a younger brother Anthony who practised independently until 1834/5 when he took up accountancy. His only known work, mentioned by Gildard, was a tenement in the west side of Warwick Street beyond Norfolk Street, a plain design with cast iron balconies. In his private life Baird was a mason, Lodge Glasgow St John. A portrait of him by Sir Daniel Macnee (now in Glasgow Art Gallery) bears out Gildard's characterisation of him as 'a large well-built man' who 'had a presence of one that ought to be in authority'.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 821, Glassford Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness 1818Address of John Shepherd & Co.
Item 2 of 8Westfield, Partick, Glasgow, ScotlandPrivate Before 1859 
Item 3 of 8636, Argyle Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness18181821 
Item 4 of 822, Argyle Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1825 *  
Item 5 of 85, Buchanan Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessc. 18341839 
Item 6 of 851, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1844 *  
Item 7 of 873, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1845 *  
Item 8 of 87, Abercromby Place, 183 West George Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness18471859 

* earliest date known from documented sources.

Employment and Training


The following individuals or organisations employed or trained this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 2John A Shepherdc. 1814(?)1818Apprentice 
Item 2 of 2Baird & Thomsonc. 1858(?)December 1859Partner 

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architect (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 5Alexander Thomson 1849Chief Draughtsman 
Item 2 of 5Alexander Thomson Before 1849Assistant 
Item 3 of 5George ThomsonEarly 1840sMid 1840sApprentice 
Item 4 of 5George ThomsonMid 1840s(?)1857(?)AssistantUncertain: may have remained as assistant after completing his apprenticeship
Item 5 of 5James Thomson1854c. 1858AssistantBecame partner in 1858

Buildings and Designs

This architect 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 58 Terraced houses, Carlton Place  GlasgowScotlandPerhaps initially with Shepherd (see biographical notes)
Item 2 of 581820Greyfriars UP Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 3 of 581823St Thomas Wesleyan Methodist Church  GlasgowScotlandOriginal church--attribution
Item 4 of 581825UP Church, Wellington StreetBlythswood GlasgowScotland 
Item 5 of 581826Oakshaw Street UP ChurchPaisley RenfrewshireScotlandOriginal building - HS attribution
Item 6 of 581828Argyle Arcade  GlasgowScotland 
Item 7 of 581830Layout of the lands of South Woodside and ClairmontWoodlands Hill GlasgowScotlandIn collaboration with George Smith
Item 8 of 58c. 1830Wellington Arcade  GlasgowScotland 
Item 9 of 581831Glasgow NecropolisDennistoun GlasgowScotlandIn conjunction with David Hamilton appointed to combine five competition designs into one
Item 10 of 581831Woodside CrescentWoodlands Hill GlasgowScotlandIn collaboration with George Smith
Item 11 of 581833Cambridge Street UP Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 12 of 581833Clober HouseNew Kilpatrick DunbartonshireScotlandEnlargement
Item 13 of 581833Highland Parish ChurchCampbeltown ArgyllScotlandTower rebuilt
Item 14 of 581833Terraced houses, Athol Place, Bath Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 15 of 581833West of Scotland Agricultural College  GlasgowScotland'Probably' (HS)
Item 16 of 581834Union ChurchGreenock Renfrewshire  
Item 17 of 581835Bonhill Parish ChurchBonhill DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 18 of 581835Woodside Terrace  GlasgowScotlandIn collaboration with George Smith
Item 19 of 581837Caledonia Place  GlasgowScotlandIn collaboration with George Smith
Item 20 of 581838Woodside Place  GlasgowScotlandIn collaboration with George Smith
Item 21 of 58c. 1838Anderston UP Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 22 of 581839George Square Congregational ChurchGreenock RenfrewshireScotland 
Item 23 of 581839Park of DrumquhassleDrymen StirlingshireScotland 
Item 24 of 581840169 Elderslie Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 25 of 5818402-4 Clifton Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 26 of 581840National Bank of Scotland, Airdrie BranchAirdrie LanarkshireScotlandDesigned building
Item 27 of 581840Somerset Place  GlasgowScotland 
Item 28 of 58c. 1840Erskine UP Church  GlasgowScotland 
Item 29 of 58c. 1840Viewpark HouseUddingston LanarkshireScotland 
Item 30 of 581841Cairnhill HouseAirdrie LanarkshireScotland 
Item 31 of 581841Congregational Church, DunfermlineDunfermline FifeScotland 
Item 32 of 581841National Bank of Scotland, First (?) Glasgow Branch  GlasgowScotlandUnclear whether this is a new building or alterations
Item 33 of 581842Claremont House  GlasgowScotland 
Item 34 of 581842Claremont Terrace and Beresford HouseWoodlands GlasgowScotland 
Item 35 of 581844Stonebyres HouseLesmahagow LanarkshireScotlandAdditions
Item 36 of 581845Lynedoch Place and Lynedoch Crescent  GlasgowScotland 
Item 37 of 581847University of Glasgow, proposed new college at WoodlandsWoodlands GlasgowScotlandPlans commissioned - three sets produced
Item 38 of 581847Wellington Street UP Church, mural monument to John Mitchell  GlasgowScotland 
Item 39 of 5818491-17 Woodlands TerraceWoodlands GlasgowScotland 
Item 40 of 581850UP Church, Shamrock Street  GlasgowScotlandOriginal building
Item 41 of 58185164 Buchanan Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 42 of 581851Macdonald's Muslin Warehouse  GlasgowScotland 
Item 43 of 581851Premises of Messrs Wilson, Kay & Co  GlasgowScotland 
Item 44 of 581852House in St Vincent Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 45 of 581853Monument to James Ewing  GlasgowScotlandIn collaboration with Mossman, sculptor
Item 46 of 58c. 1853Church SchoolCampbeltown ArgyllScotland 
Item 47 of 581854Houses in Hope Street and West George Street for McGrigors & Stevenson  GlasgowScotland 
Item 48 of 581854Prince of Wales's Buildings  GlasgowScotland 
Item 49 of 581854Sir James Campbell's Warehouse, Ingram Street and Brunswick Street  GlasgowScotlandBaird responsible for plan
Item 50 of 581854Tobacco Warehouse, James Watt Street  GlasgowScotland 
Item 51 of 581855Carbeth Guthrie House  StirlingshireScotlandAdditions
Item 52 of 581855Gardner's Warehouse  GlasgowScotlandWith Robert McConnell, ironfounder
Item 53 of 581855Urie HouseFetteresso KincardineshireScotlandRebuilding, including lodges
Item 54 of 581856Smith and Sons' Warehouse  GlasgowScotland 
Item 55 of 581858Birkwood HouseLesmahagow LanarkshireScotlandMajor additions
Item 56 of 581858Crown Circus  GlasgowScotlandIn partnership
Item 57 of 581859Commercial building, 138-140 West George Street  GlasgowScotlandCompleted shortly after Baird's death.
Item 58 of 581859Gartsherrie Offices  GlasgowScotlandCompleted shortly after Baird's death


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 6Gildard, Thomas1895An Old Glasgow Architect on some Older OnesXXVIProceedings of the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow 
Item 2 of 6Gomme, Andor and Walker, David1987Architecture of GlasgowSecond revised ednLondon: Lund Humphries 
Item 3 of 6Johnston, W T2003Artists of Scotland Officina Publications CDROM 
Item 4 of 6MacLehose, James1886Memoirs and portraits of one hundred Glasgow Men who have died during the last thirty years  Glasgow: James MacLehose & SonsVolume 1, pp 21-4 - biography, list of works, portrait
Item 5 of 6Scotlands People Website Wills & Testaments  Glasgow Sheriff Court Inventories SC36/48/46
Item 6 of 6Walker, Frank Arneil1986South Clyde Estuary: An Illustrated Architectural Guide to Inverclyde and Renfrew  p23, p128, p130

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 2Glasgow University ArchivesArchval material relating to the building of the University 720, non payment of fees to J Baird by the Glasgow Airdrie & Monklands Railway Company
Item 2 of 2Professor David M Walker personal archiveProfessor David M Walker, notes and collection of archive material Information from gravestone in Glasgow Necropolis. Biography includes research by Iain Paterson.


© All rights reserved. MacLehose, James (1886). Memoirs and portraits of one hundred Glasgow Men who have died during the last thirty years p21-24 (Courtesy of Iain Paterson) 

© All rights reserved. MacLehose, James (1886). Memoirs and portraits of one hundred Glasgow Men who have died during the last thirty years p21-24 (Courtesy of Iain Paterson)

© All rights reserved. Letter presented to Dictionary January 2015. 

© All rights reserved. Letter presented to Dictionary January 2015.