© All rights reserved. From The British Architect 19 December 1884 © All rights reserved. From The British Architect 19 December 1884. 

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Basic Biographical Details

Name: Thomas Smith
Designation: Architect
Born: 1862
Died: 4 November 1941
Bio Notes: Thomas Smith was born in 1862, the son of John Smith, colliery manager, and his wife Jane Nimmo. He was educated at Rosehall Works School and at Gartsherrie Academy after his family moved to Coatbridge in 1871. In 1877 he was articled to James boucher, remaining with him as assistant until 30 November 1886. In the reference he provided on that date, Boucher described Smith as ‘most diligent’ and as ‘an expert and tasteful draughtsman…who would prove a valuable assistant to anyone requiring his services’. Although Boucher did not mention it, Smith had distinguished himself at the architecture and building construction classes at Glasgow School of Art and had caught the attention of ‘The British Architect (15 August 1884) with his designs for a village gaol, cricket pavilion, crofter’s homestead, fisherman’s and shepherd’s cottages and for a city club, the last of these an ambitious French Gothic courtyard design which won the National Bronze Medal. Stylistically it was akin to the work in that idiom of Ernest George and the early work of Aston Webb.

In the same year, 1884, the School appointed Smith teacher (or instructor) of the reconstituted architecture class; and after Francis Newbery becasme headmaster in 1885 and succeeded in breaking away from the South Kensington system, the architectural classes were again reorganised on the lines of the Royal Academy Schools with the leading local architect and visitors. Alexander McGibbon being appointed an additional teacher in 1887.

Although at some point Boucher offered Smith the partnership which was eventually taken up by Henry Higgins, Smith preferred to commence independent practice in Coatbridge in 1887. In doing so he was meeting the wishes of his fiancée Ethel Semple, younger daughter of Thomas Semple, who had no wish to live in Glasgow. They were married by her uncle, the Reverend Thomas Semple, a Free Church minister in Aberdeen, at Melrose Cottage, Church street, Coatbridge on 22 August 1889.

Smith’s Coatbridge practice prospered and he was admitted to the Glasgow Institute of Architect in April 1893. In the meantime his role at the Glasgow School of Art had been changing somewhat as Newbery and the Governors absorbed the parallel educational section of the Glasgow Philosophical Society. In 1893 the Governors invited the Alexander Thomson scholar William James Anderson to give a course of lectures on the architecture of the Italian Renaissance and in 1894 they appointed him Directory of the architectural classes: Smith was no longer their effective head as senior teacher. On 7 June 1895 Smith resigned, the Governors acknowledging what he had evidently stated in his letter, that ‘your business will not allow your undertaking supervision of the class after the close of this session.’ In the same year Smith
took on Robert Thorn Ross (born 1878) as an apprentice. Ross remained with him as an assistant thereafter, and was made a partner in 1910. The partnership, its office being at 3 Church Street, Coatbridge, appears to have continued after the First World War but Ross was practising alone from Neilson Terrace by 1924 and later moved to Strathaven.

Smith designed only three large buildings, the Stewart & Lloyd’s offices of 1908, a large brick-built block in a classical-modern idiom which seems to have been influenced by German work of that time and Trades Hotels in Coatbridge and Greenock.

Although in later years he regretted not having accepted Boucher’s offer of a partnership because of the wider client base that would have brought, he prospered sufficiently to build a fine house in Lefroy Road, Coatbridge, later divided to accommodate his daughter whose husband had been injured in a mining accident, and build a housing development in Dunbeth Avenue, Coatbridge which consisted of a square of high-quality stone-built three-storey tenements. The latter was intended as an investment providing income for his retirement but in the event the rent restriction act limited rental income to the point where it did not do much more than cover the cost of maintenance.

Smith was active in public life, in 1895 becoming a member of Old Monkland Parish Council, subsequently a Magistrate and Police Judge and eventually Provost of Coatbridge for a term of three years. He was finally appointed as Deputy Lieutenant of Lanarkshire.

He died on 4 November 1941. His practice was inherited by R H Gibb and J G Lindsay Pate. Thomas Nimmo Smith, Thomas Smith's son, seems to have joined the practice in the 1960s as did Charles Wilson Vallance Thom. Branch offices of the firm were in Greenock and Dunoon.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architect:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 421, Lefroy Street, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, ScotlandPrivate 1941 
Item 2 of 4Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, ScotlandBusiness1875  
Item 3 of 428, Main Street, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, ScotlandBusiness(?)1888  
Item 4 of 43, Church Street, Coatbridge, Lanarkshire, ScotlandBusinessBefore 1911After 1939(?) 

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 1Smith & Ross1910Before 1924Partner 

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 3Robert Thom Ross1895c. 1900ApprenticeRemained with Smith after apprenticeship and was subsequently taken into partnership
Item 2 of 3Robert Thom Rossc. 19001910Assistant 
Item 3 of 3James O'Hanlon Hughes19091915Apprentice 

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 16After 1887Cliftonhill Parish ChurchCliftonhill LanarkshireScotland 
Item 2 of 16Before 1887Coatbridge Baptist ChurchCoatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 3 of 161892Blairhill ChurchCoatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 4 of 16After 1895BarncluithHamilton LanarkshireScotlandRestoration, remodelling of interior, new entrance porch and new wing
Item 5 of 16After 1895Business premises for William Bain & CoCoatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 6 of 16After 1895Coatdyke UF ChurchCoatdyke, Coatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 7 of 16After 1895Holytown Parish Church hallsHolytown LanarkshireScotland 
Item 8 of 161897Coatdyke Parish ChurchCoatdyke, Coatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 9 of 16c. 1900(?)RedholmeDunbeath, Coatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 10 of 161901Model Lodging HouseCoatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 11 of 161904Kirkstyle CottagesKirkwood, Coatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 12 of 161905Grange HotelShawhead, Coatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 13 of 161905West ArdnagareHelensburgh DunbartonshireScotland 
Item 14 of 161906Offices for Messrs Stewart & LloydCoatdyke, Coatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 15 of 16c. 1928Coia's Central CaféCoatbridge LanarkshireScotland 
Item 16 of 161947Clydesdale Rubber Company Limited Premises  GlasgowScotlandThomas Smith died in 1941. Unclear who was running the practice


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this architect:
Item 1 of 3Peden, Allan1992The Monklands: an illustrated architectural guide RIASp38
Item 2 of 3RIBA1930The RIBA Kalendar 1930-1931 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 
Item 3 of 3RIBA1939The RIBA Kalendar 1939-1940 London: Royal Institute of British Architects 

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this architect:
 SourceArchive NameSource Catalogue No.Notes
Item 1 of 1Courtesy of Thomas Smith IIIInformation sent to David Walker  


© All rights reserved. From The British Architect 19 December 1884 

© All rights reserved. From The British Architect 19 December 1884

© All rights reserved. From The British Architect 19 December 1884. 

© All rights reserved. From The British Architect 19 December 1884.