Basic Biographical Details

Name: Baird & Thomson
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1848
Ended: 1856
Bio Notes: John Baird the Second was no relation of the first (John Baird 'Primus'), being born in November 1816 at Ayr, the son of Alexander Baird, shoemaker, and his wife Elizabeth Grange. About 1830 he was articled to James Watt, but after Watt's death in 1832 he completed his apprenticeship with John Herbertson. Thereafter he worked with John Fisher until Spring 1837 when he joined David and James Hamilton where he was very unusually allowed to put his name in the Directory. There he worked on Lennox Castle, the Clydesdale, Western, British Linen and Union Banks and in the Western Club: and at Hamilton Palace he worked on the Black Marble Stair and on the base of the mausoleum under the direct supervision of the Duke. In December 1843 David Hamilton died, his son James thereafter forming a partnership with his sister's husband James Smith, father of Madeline Hamilton Smith of murder trial fame. Within a few months however the partnership was sequestrated, possibly as a result of financial troubles over their development on the north side of Royal Exchange Square. James Hamilton then withdrew from the partnership; Smith carried on the practice on his own, possibly with his brother-in-law's assistance, and Baird commenced practice on his own. In 1846 Smith and Baird formed a partnership but this was not a success and by the beginning of 1848 Baird was practising on his own account at 112 Hope Street, Glasgow. On 21 September 1847, he married, at a double wedding, Jessie Nicholson, daughter of Michael Angelo Nicholson (died 1841) and granddaughter of the architect Peter Nicholson, the other bridegroom being Alexander Thomson, who married her sister Jane.

Alexander Thomson was born at Endrick Cottage, Balfron, on 9 April 1817, the seventeenth child of John Thomson and the ninth child of his second marriage to Elizabeth Cooper. John Thomson was the bookkeeper at Kirkman Finlay's cotton works there and had previously held a similar position at Carron Ironworks. Advancement with both firms was precluded by his strict Burgher beliefs which were shared by his wife: she had come to Balfron with her brother, the Rev John Cooper. The family was educated at home, partly by Cooper, but John Thomson died in 1824 and the family had to move from Balfron to the outskirts of Glasgow. Elizabeth died in 1828, leaving the family in the care of her son William, a brilliant classical scholar who was briefly professor of humanity at the University of Glasgow. In 1834 William Thomson moved to London as a missionary, leaving his brothers and sisters at his house at Hangingshaw. In the same year Alexander became a clerk in a Glasgow lawyer's office. There his drawing skills attracted the attention of a client, Robert Foote, who had inherited the large plasterer's business of David Foote & Son in 1827 and had commenced practice as an architect in 1830. Foote's architectural practice was small but in association with the decorative plasterwork side of his business he had amassed a magnificent library and a large collection of classical casts from which Thomson learned much in the two years he was articled to him. In 1836 a spinal complaint obliged Foote to withdraw from architectural practice and Thomson completed his articles with John Baird, remaining with him first as assistant and later as chief draughtsman when much of his time was spent on the unbuilt college on Woodlands Hill. In the early 1840s Thomson's younger brother George, born at Balfron on 26 May 1819 was also articled to Baird, after recovering from a respiratory complaint which had been thought to be consumption.

In 1849 Baird entered into partnership with his brother-in-law under the name Baird & Thomson. Within two years the partnership was extremely successful with a large clientele for medium-sized villas and terraces of cottages in Pollokshields, Shawlands, Crossmyloof, Cathcart, Langbank, Bothwell and Cove and Kilcreggan. At Cove and Kilcreggan they enjoyed the support of the builder, railway contractor and ironfounder John McElroy who commissioned Craig Ailey in 1850 and built a considerable number of other marine villas either speculatively or for clients. These early villas were generally either Gothic, sometimes with Pugin-derived details, or Italian Romanesque but a few, most notably Glen Eden at Cove, had very original elements which, as Gavin Stamp has shown, have their origins in the publications of the architectural historian and theorist James Fergusson.

In 1854 Thomson began designing in a picturesque asymmetrically composed pilastraded neo-Greek idiom which derived from Schinkel at Rockbank, Helensburgh and the Mossman studio on Cathedral Street. These were followed by the Scottish Exhibition Rooms in Bath Street which he and some architect friends built to provide a Scottish counterpart to the period courts in the Crystal Palace at Sydenham. This decisive shift to the neo-Greek which would remain characteristic of him and by then had no counterpart either in Edinburgh or south of the Border was quickly followed by a change of partner. In 1856 the partnership of Baird & Thomson was amicably dissolved so that Thomson could form a separate practice with his brother George who may still have been in the office of John Baird Primus: the record is not absolutely clear. Baird thereafter practised alone from 112 West Regent Street.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3112, Hope Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusiness1848c. 1853 
Item 2 of 3132, Hope Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessc. 1853c. 1854 
Item 3 of 3109, Hope Street, Glasgow, ScotlandBusinessc. 18541856 

Employment and Training

Employees or Pupils

The following individuals were employed or trained by this architectural practice (click on an item to view details):
 NameDate fromDate toPositionNotes
Item 1 of 3Alexander Thomson18491856Partner 
Item 2 of 3John Baird the Second18491856Partner 
Item 3 of 3William Porter Mitchell19311934Assistant(?) 

Buildings and Designs

This architectural practice 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 55c. 1849Design for Unidentified Building with Galleried Interior on Iron columns     
Item 2 of 551850sAnchorageCove DunbartonshireScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable--Check partnership
Item 3 of 551850sBlocks of Tenements, 37?-387 Sauchiehall Street  GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented but relief panels are the same as those on demolished warehouse in Howard Street
Item 4 of 551850sCarradaleKilcreggan DunbartonshireScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable
Item 5 of 551850s(?)Design for Romanesque Church with Campanile     
Item 6 of 551850sEllerlyKilcreggan DunbartonshireScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable
Item 7 of 551850sIvy Cave CottageCove DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 8 of 551850sSeaton LodgeKilcreggan DunbartonshireScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable
Item 9 of 551850sVilla, 26 Maxwell DrivePollokshields GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable on stylistic grounds
Item 10 of 551850sWodrow Monument, Eastwood Old Cemetery  GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable on stylistic grounds
Item 11 of 551850Cove Cottage, Semi-detached VillasCove DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 12 of 551850Seymour LodgeCove DunbartonshireScotlandVilla and detached coach house
Item 13 of 551850The Knowe and LodgePollokshields GlasgowScotlandOriginal house
Item 14 of 551851ArdsloyKilcreggan DunbartonshireScotlandAttribution undocumented but very likely
Item 15 of 551851Beech VillaPollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 16 of 551851Green GablesPollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 17 of 551851Lincoln VillaPollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 18 of 551851Manhattan CottagePollokshields GlasgowScotland 
Item 19 of 55c. 1851John Blair & Co Warehouse and Shops  GlasgowScotland 
Item 20 of 55c. 1851Sighthill Cemetery, Mossman Monument  GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable
Item 21 of 551852(?)Block of Tenements on Taylor Street and Parson Street  GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable
Item 22 of 55c. 1852Craig Ailey, Italian VillaCove DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 23 of 55c. 1852Sighthill Cemetery, Atwood Monument  GlasgowScotland 
Item 24 of 551853Langside Estate layout  GlasgowScotland 
Item 25 of 551853Unitarian Church  GlasgowScotlandCompetition designs - not successful
Item 26 of 55c. 1853Braehead VillaCathcart GlasgowScotland 
Item 27 of 55c. 1853St Ann's LodgeBlairmore ArgyllScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable
Item 28 of 5518541339 Pollokshaws RoadShawlands GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented and uncertain
Item 29 of 551854Darnley TerraceShawlands GlasgowScotlandUndocumented--attribution by Worsdall
Item 30 of 551854Mossman Sculptor's Studio  GlasgowScotland 
Item 31 of 551854Rockbank House and LodgeHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 32 of 551854Scottish Exhibition Rooms  GlasgowScotlandGreek court
Item 33 of 551854Sessional School  GlasgowScotland 
Item 34 of 55c. 18541349 Pollokshaws RoadShawlands GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented and uncertain
Item 35 of 55c. 18541353 Pollokshaws RoadShawlands GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented and uncertain
Item 36 of 55c. 18541365 Pollokshaws RoadShawlands GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented and uncertain
Item 37 of 55c. 18541381-1389 Pollokshaws RoadShawlands Road GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented and uncertain
Item 38 of 55c. 1854Craigrownie HouseCove DunbartonshireScotlandHouse and boundary wall
Item 39 of 55c. 1854Southern Necropolis, Thomson Monument  GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented
Item 40 of 551855Caledonia Road UP ChurchHutchesontown GlasgowScotlandBegan church
Item 41 of 551855Crossmyloof BuildingsLangside GlasgowScotland 
Item 42 of 551855Glen EdenBothwell LanarkshireScotlandAttribution undocumented but certain?
Item 43 of 551855(?)Knockderry Castle and lodge (Knockderry Cottage)Cove DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 44 of 551855Pollok Burgh SchoolPollokshaws GlasgowScotlandBaird claimed responsibility
Item 45 of 551855Woodside CottagesLangbank RenfrewshireScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable on stylistic grounds; APSD refers to Langbank.
Item 46 of 55c. 1855Eastwood and Rhodove, Double Villa  GlasgowScotlandAttribution undocumented and uncertain; date unknown
Item 47 of 55c. 1855Huntly LodgeBothwell LanarkshireScotland 
Item 48 of 55c. 1855The Knowe and LodgePollokshields GlasgowScotlandExtension
Item 49 of 551856Block of Tenements and Shops, Hospital StreetHutchesontown GlasgowScotland 
Item 50 of 551856Block of Tenements with Shops, Cathcart Road  GlasgowScotland 
Item 51 of 551856Busby House (for Mr Kessock)Busby LanarkshireScotlandLarge addition
Item 52 of 551856Maria Villa, Langside HillLangside GlasgowScotlandBegun by Baird & Thomson; finished by A & G Thomson
Item 53 of 551856Upper Clifton House, CraigmoreRothesayButeButeScotland 
Item 54 of 55c. 1856Glen EdenCove DunbartonshireScotlandAttribution undocumented but probable on stylistic grounds
Item 55 of 55c. 1855Green Bank VillaBothwell LanarkshireScotland 


Currently, there are no references for this architectural practice. The information has been derived from: the British Architectural Library / RIBA Directory of British Architects 1834-1914; Post Office Directories; and/or any sources listed under this individual's works.