Basic Biographical Details

Name: Stark & McNeill
Designation: Architectural practice
Started: 1912
Ended: 1937
Bio Notes: John McNeill was born on 12 April 1888 at Sandbank, Argyll and was articled to Boston, Menzies & Morton of Greenock in October 1904. On completion of his apprenticeship in 1910 he remained as chief assistant, but he left the following year to emigrate to Malaya. There he commenced practice as a partner in the firm of Stark & McNeill in 1912, with offices in Penang, Ipoh and later also in Johore; nothing is yet known of Stark. In 1920 Charles Geoffrey Boutcher was taken into partnership, the practice title remaining unchanged. In February the following year James Tyre McNeill, who must have been a brother, joined the firm as an assistant. James had been born on 25 March 1893 and, like John, had been articled to Boston Menzies & Morton of Greenock, beginning his apprenticeship in November 1911. He had taken 'elementary classes' during the following three years, probably at the Glasgow School of Architecture, but had not taken any further courses of study later, preferring to study in his own time as well as travelling in Britain, Ireland, France, Belgium and Germany. He had served in the First World War from August 1914, before emigrating to Malaya. James was taken into partnership on 22 March 1928, Charles Geoffrey Boutcher having become a partner in 1920 although the practice title had remained unchanged.

Two years later another Scot, Joseph Charles Miller, was taken into partnership, having joined the firm as chief assistant in 1926. Miller had been born on 14 September 1901 and had been articled to Ninian Macwhannell of Glasgow in 1918, studying at the Glasgow School of Architecture. After completing his apprenticeship in 1923 he had remained with Macwhannell for a further two years as assistant whilst completing his studies at the School. He had passed the qualifying exam on 24 July 1925 and, having spent the summer travelling in France, had been admitted ARIBA on 30 November that year, his proposers being Macwhannell, Charles Gourlay and Andrew Balfour. He had then emigrated to Malaya where he had become chief assistant in the firm of Stark & McNeill in Penang the following year. Whilst with Stark & McNeill he travelled in China in January 1928 and in Italy and Germany in September 1930.

James Tyre McNeill was admitted LRIBA in 1932, his proposers being Thomas Harold Hughes, David Bateman Hutton, and William James Smith, who describes him as 'an enthusiast'. In his nomination forms he curiously gives his private address as the family home, The Cromlech, Sandbank, Scotland, although he was still with Stark & McNeill in Penang at the time. In either that year or 1934 (there is a conflict of information between the nomination papers of the various partners), the practice title was changed to McNeill & Miller. In 1934 or 1935 Miller left to practise on his own account. It appears that James Tyre McNeill had also left by this time as John McNeill continued to practise alone, reverting to the earlier firm title of Stark & McNeill.

John McNeill retired in 1937 and returned to Scotland either then or shortly thereafter. He was admitted LRIBA on 5 March 1943, proposed by Frank Dorrington Ward, Government Architect in the Singapore Public Works Department, who wrote in his supporting statement that McNeill had 'carried out a large number of architectural works of considerable magnitude' whilst in practice in Northern Malaya and Johore. McNeill's address was The Cromlech, Sandbank, Argyll, and his declaration accepting his admittance was witnessed by Janet McNeill, who may have been his wife.

Private and Business Addresses

The following private or business addresses are associated with this architectural practice:
 AddressTypeDate fromDate toNotes
Item 1 of 3Johore, MalaysiaBusiness   
Item 2 of 3Penang, MalaysiaBusiness1920 *  
Item 3 of 3Ipoh, MalaysiaBusiness1920 *  

* earliest date known from documented sources.

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 8John McNeill19121932 or 1934Partner 
Item 2 of 8Allan Stewart McNairMay 1919July 1921Chief AssistantIn charge of Ipoh branch office
Item 3 of 8Charles Geoffrey Boutcher19201933Partner 
Item 4 of 8James Tyre McNeillFebruary 192122 March 1928Assistant(?) 
Item 5 of 8Joseph Charles Miller19261930Chief Assistant 
Item 6 of 8James Tyre McNeill22 March 19281932 or 1934Partner 
Item 7 of 8Joseph Charles Miller19301932 or 1934Partner 
Item 8 of 8John McNeill1934 or 19351937PartnerSole partner


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.