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Papers of James Salmon (1805-1888), architect, Glasgow, Scotland

551 134

Description Papers of James Salmon (1805-1888), architect, Glasgow, Scotland

Date 1871 to 1924

Collection Papers of James Salmon (1805-1888), architect, Glasgow, Scotland

Catalogue Number 551 134

Category All Other

Scope and Content A collection of written, drawn and photographic material consisting of lectures, notes and catalogue items. Photographic material relating to James Salmon’s trips around Europe. Includes photographs from Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Italy, Spain, Norway, Scotland, England, Turkey, Greece and Austria. Also includes family photographs and photo albums. Material relating to specific architectural projects undertaken or contributed to by James Salmon. Organised by building. Correspondences between James Salmon and various individuals. Divided into formal, informal and familial correspondences. A collection of sketches, sketchbooks, designs and prints related to James Salmon’s professional and private life.

Archive History Purchased from dealer.

System of Arrangement The material has been catalogued into groups thematically. Within each group the sub groups are ordered by project, geographical area or again, by theme. If possible the items have been stored to reflect the cataloguing system. But due to the considerable extent of material and the varying sizes, in some instances this is not the case.

Access Conditions There are no restrictions upon access.

Administrative History James Salmon Sr. was born 11th October 1805 in Glasgow. He studied under the tutelage of John Brash and by c1825 had established himself in independent practice. In 1837 he married Helen Russell (1817–1881), they had five children: Williamina (c1841); William Forrest (1843); Margaret (1846); James (1853); and Helen (1856). In 1843 he was taken in to partnership with Robert Black, the practice name changing to Black & Salmon. During this time he rose to prominence with two buildings, one in the Neo-Perpendicular style, St. Mathews Church on Bath Street and another in the Renaissance style, 81 Miller Street, an art warehouse for Archibald McLellan. Salmon co-founded the Glasgow Architectural Society in 1858 and was a Ballie on the town council from 1864–1872. In 1868 he became first president of the Glasgow Institute of Architects. In 1854, Salmon’s partnership with Robert Black was dissolved due to Black losing his contract with the Union Bank to William Railton. The same year, Salmon was commissioned by Alexander Dennistoun to design the new east end suburb of Dennistoun becoming prominent in professional, public and Free Church institutions. His eldest son, William Forrest, was sent to the office of James Smith to train as an architect. He became acquainted with William Leiper, William Scott Morton and James Moyr Smith. William Forrest followed Scott Morton to London, entering the employment of George Gilbet Scott. Here, he was likely responsible for the design of polychrome Italian Gothic Anderston Established Church in 1864. He returned to Glasgow around 1866 and, along with James Ritchie, became a partner in 1867/68. The practice name became Salmon, Son & Ritchie. Forrest retained his links with London, which were expanded by the Scott Mortons, bringing the Salmons into an even wider artistic circle. James Salmon Sr. died 5 June 1888 while walking home, leaving a ‘moveable estate’ of £2,559 19s 11d. The firm was continued under the same name by William Forrest. In the same year, James Salmon Jr., the son of William Forrest, left high school and joined the family firm. He remained there for two years while studying at The Glasgow School of Art before being sent to William Leiper’s office in 1890 to complete his apprenticeship. There he continued to attend classes at The Glasgow School of Art until 1891 and again from 1892-1895. Salmon left Leiper’s office in 1894. Leiper’s influence on Salmon’s work remained, marked in both his domestic and commercial work. As a 21st birthday present, William Forrest Salmon sent James on a “Grand Tour” of the continent which he partly documented in a series of water colour paintings. By the time James returned to the family firm, much of the design work had become the responsibility of John Gaff Gillespie, b1870. Sometime in 1895, William Forrest made Gillespie a partner, the volume of work having grown as a result of Forrest securing some of the business of the British Linen Bank. James worked under his father and Gillespie for two years, during which time he was given much of the responsibility for the design of the Mercantile Chambers on Bothwell Street, a project which the Salmon’s had a financial interest and which was to become their offices. In 1898, James became a partner. During the next few years, the individual design responsibilities of Gillespie and James are not easily separated. Their names were not acknowledged in the practice titles until November 1903 when the firm became Salmon Son & Gillespie. In his later years, Forrest became prominent in professional matters as a Governor of The Glasgow School of Art, President of the Glasgow Institute of Architects and a member of the RIBA council. It was probably due to his influence that Gillespie and James Jr. were admitted directly to the Fellowship of the RIBA. By 1906 both Gillespie and James Junior had travelled extensively and numerous sketches and photographs left James’ travels well documented. By this time, Gillespie and Salmon's work had begun to diverge, Gillespie’s work tending toward simplified free classic and Salmon’s still a sculpturesque art nouveau. Within the firm, William Forrest seems to have been responsible for winning commissions, delegating detailed design work to Gillespie or James. He died of cancer at Rowantreehill on 7 October 1911, leaving a ‘moveable estate’ of £7008 11s. 4d. Following his death, William Forrest’s share of the firm passed to his second wife, Agnes. Gillespie now became the senior partner. As James had spent much of his income on travel, he could not afford to buy out either Gillespie or his step mother. Gillespie bought out Agnes’ interest, retaining the office at Mercantile Chambers. James moved out to a rented flat at 48 Jane Street, Blythswood Square which was both his home and office. He retained a commission received in 1909 for the Admiralty Village at Cove Farm, Greenock, and was allowed to revive the firm’s name as it had existed prior to 1903, James Salmon & Son, later abbreviated to James Salmon FRIBA. The few clients James retained from 1913-1914, were exclusively medical. He developed Repertory Theatre connections from 1914 but despite making many sketches and designs they were not pursued further. During the war years, his Admiralty connections stood him in good stead, with the garden village development at Cove Farm going ahead. He also received commissions for workers’ housing at Greenock and Cambulsang. James married Dr Agnes Picken on 2 (or 14, sources vary) February 1917. At the end of the First World War they became involved in welfare work in the Balkans, particularly in respect of Dr Katherine McPhail’s Sanatorium for sick children at Brababic, Ragusa. Lectures given in 1920 and 1921, together with other papers relating to these activities survive. James’ post-war clients remained exclusively medical, his only sizeable commission being the reconstruction of Redlands on Great Western Road as Glasgow Women’s Private Hospital, begun in 1921. By the autumn of 1923 he was unable to continue his practice because of bowel cancer. Moreover he was responsible for his aunt Wilhelmina who had become senile with arterio sclerosis and had to be taken in to Craighouse, Edinburgh. She died on 9 January. Salmon himself died only three-and-a-half months later on 27 April at his home, 48 Jane Street. Letters sent to him by Dr Devon (a mutual friend of James and his wife) survive. On his death, James’ estate amounted to £535 9s. 6d., part of which was his inheritance from Wilhelmina.

Accruals No further accruals are expected.

Accession Number 1994/89


Collection Hierarchy - Collection Level

Collection Level (551 134) Papers of James Salmon (1805-1888), architect, Glasgow, Scotland

Preview Category Catalogue Number Title Date Level
All Other 551 134/1 Lectures, Notes and Catalogues 1895 Group Level
All Other 551 134/2 Photographs Group Level
All Other 551 134/3 Projects Group Level
All Other 551 134/4 Correspondence Group Level
All Other 551 134/5 Sketchs, Designs, Paintings and Sketchbooks Group Level

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