Pollokshields Heritage  Heritage Trail Two
Alexander Thomson (1817-1875)

Responsible for Coldstream House, Castlehill, Ellisland, Lorne Terrace and The Knowe and Lodge.

Alexander ThomsonA highly imaginative and innovative practitioner who is certainly one of Glasgow’s, if not Scotland’s, greatest architects. He designed almost every conceivable type of building, from churches to warehouses, including the private homes, mansion houses and tenements which were springing up in Glasgow from the middle of the nineteenth century onwards. He was given the soubriquet ‘Greek’ because of his use of Greek motifs in his designs.

He was born in Balfron, Stirlingshire on 9th April 1817, the seventeenth child in a family of nineteen. Having moved to Glasgow, his skills as a draughtsman were recognised by architect Robert Foote, who offered him an apprenticeship in 1834. Robert Foote retired in 1836 and Thomson joined John Baird’s practice to finish his apprenticeship. He remained with Baird until 1849, then entered into partnership with another John Baird and their first buildings began to appear from 1850 onwards with Seymour Lodge in Ardsloy, the Italian Villa in Cove and nine villas around St Andrews Drive, Pollokshields (all demolished). The 1843 Disruption in the Church of Scotland resulted in a boom in church building and Thomson along with many other architects took advantage. His partnership with John Baird ended in 1856 and the following year he went into partnership with his brother George to form A & G Thomson. In 1871 George left to become a missionary in Cameroon, and in 1873 Thomson entered into his final partnership with Robert Turnbull. By this stage Thomson’s health was in decline through asthma and bronchitis and he died age 57 at his home in one of his most noted terraces, 1 Moray Place, Strathbungo on 22nd March 1875.