Local Heroes

A celebration of some of the region's architects who have helped to make Aberdeenshire what it is today.

William Liddle Duncan George Gray George Gordon Jenkins A. G. R. Mackenzie George Marr 
James Matthews George Bennett Mitchell William Robertson  Archibald Simpson John Smith 

William Liddle Duncan

Born 1870, Turriff. Died 1951, Turriff.

Born in Turriff in 1870, the son of architect James Duncan, William Liddle Duncan worked almost exclusively in North Aberdeenshire. His early studies were at Edinburgh School of Art, and subsequently Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen during which time he worked as an apprentice at his father’s practice.

He joined his father’s practice as a partner in 1897 after having continued his training elsewhere. Throughout his long and distinguished career he designed public and commercial buildings; private houses; local authority buildings; war memorials; and was especially noted for his farmstead designs (he received a bronze medal from the Highland and Agricultural Society of Scotland in 1908).

In his role as one of the Aberdeen Education Authority’s architects, he designed numerous schools in the Huntly and Turriff areas and was also responsible for designing local housing schemes at Rhynie, Gartly and Insch considered to be of particularly high design quality.

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

Church of Ord (now converted to a house)

1899

NJ65NW0003

Exterior only

Forglen War Memorial

1920

NJ65SE0056

Yes - free

Inverkeithney Parish Church

1920s

NJ64NW0031

Yes - free

Foveran War Memorial

1922

NJ92SE0082

Yes - free

Banff Castle (additions and well in courtyard) 

1926

NJ66SE0018

Yes - free

 Forglen War MemorialBanff CastleFoveran War Memorial

 

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George Gray

Born 1871, Inverurie. Died 1951, Inverurie.

Described as Inverurie’s leading architect of the 1890s, George Gray was born and brought up in the town, and later practiced as an architect in his own right operating out of 133 High Street. He studied at Gray's School of Art and Robert Gordon's College, and in 1887 was articled to John Rust, City Architect of Aberdeen, where he continued to work until 1893 at which time he relocated to London to further his architectural experience.

Gray returned to Inverurie in 1894, where he established his own architectural practice in his High Street home. His work was interrupted by the onset of the First World War; Gray served with the Gordon Highlanders, reaching the rank of Captain. After the War, he returned to his Inverurie practice and was subsequently appointed District Architect for Schools in the Inverurie area, a post which he held until 1940 creating schools in Inverurie, Kintore, Oldmeldrum and Cluny. Gray is also credited with designing Inverurie’s first council housing, in Westfield Gardens, as well as the early expansion of the North and West areas of the nearby village of Insch with council housing. 

While working for the Local Authority Gray continued to undertake private commissions, his work including residential, public, commercial and ecclesiastical buildings. Gray was also responsible for the reconstruction of the iconic Inverurie Town Hall after it was damaged by fire in 1929. 

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

15 High Street, Inverurie (designed as a photography studio)

after 1894

 

Exterior only

Wyness Hall, Jackson Street, Inverurie

1896

NJ72SE0305

Yes 

Inverurie Free Church (West Church) – hall, chapel

1905-6,

1935-6

NJ72SE0188

Yes - free

House at GlenDronach Distillery

1920

NJ64SW0017

Exterior only

Inverurie Town Hall (reconstruction after fire) 

1930

NJ72SE0160

Yes - free

 

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George Gordon Jenkins

Born 1848, Elgin. Died 1923, Aberdeen.

Architect and engineer George Gordon Jenkins was born in Elgin, but spent much of his childhood in Aboyne where his father was minister of the parish church. Having studied at Aberdeen Grammar School, he was articled to Aberdeen civil engineer Robert Anderson.

Around 1874, he set up his own civil engineering practice in Aberdeen, with offices at 115 Union Street. Jenkins undertook a variety of works throughout the city, including cemeteries and water projects.

In 1878, Jenkins entered into a partnership George Marr, Marr’s existing family practice being renamed Jenkins & Marr. The practice’s work included agricultural, industrial, residential, ecclesiastical, educational, public and hospital buildings. During his career, Jenkins undertook water, drainage, and sewage purification engineering works for Local Authorities, covering an area from Forfar to Shetland. He was also the engineer for the Aberdeen Suburban Tramways.  

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

Huntly Cemetery and Lodge

1878-9

 NJ54SW0039

Yes - free (Lodge -

Exterior only)

Dalrymple Hall, Fraserburgh (Jenkins & Marr)

1881

 

Yes - free

Royal Bridge, Ballater (Jenkins & Marr)

1885

NO39NE0009

Yes - with caution

Aboyne Infectious Diseases Hospital

(Jenkins & Marr)

1897

NO59NW0082

Exterior only

Inverurie Town Hall - addition of library

and museum (Jenkins & Marr) 

1911

NJ72SE0160

Yes - free

 

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Alexander George Robertson Mackenzie

Born 1879, Aberdeen. Died 1963 (buried at Bourtie Kirk, Aberdeenshire).

Born in Aberdeen in 1879, son of architect Alexander Marshall Mackenzie, "AGR" studied at Gray’s School of Art and Robert Gordon's Institute of Technology in Aberdeen from the age of 10, and was articled to his father from the age of 15, becoming chief assistant by the age of 19. He then relocated to London to continue his training. He returned to Aberdeen in 1902, to assist with works to Marischal College, returning to London in 1903 to head a new branch of his father’s practice. He returned to Aberdeen in 1935 working mostly for the University of Aberdeen, as well as overseeing repairs to, and restoration of, country houses; he was also employed at this time by the National Trust for Scotland.

In 1949, he was appointed by the Chief Investigator of Historic Buildings for the Department of Health for Scotland to identify buildings across Aberdeenshire, Banffshire and Kincardine which merited protection and preservation in a scheme which was to form the basis of the Listed Building register still in use today. Through this work, AGR established the basis for the “Conservation Area” by setting out the idea of treating the small fishing towns of the region as complete single entities worthy of protection in their own right. His work undoubtedly set the foundation of how we protect and manage the historic built environment of not just Aberdeenshire, but Scotland. AGR retired from practice in 1960, but continued to work up until the time of his death in 1963. He is buried in Bourtie churchyard.

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

House for Dr Walford Bodie – Manor House, Skene Street, Macduff

1905

NJ76SW0099

Exterior only

War Memorial Buildings and Victory Hall, Aboyne

1920

NO59NW0053

Yes - Free

Drumoak War Memorial, Drumoak

1922

NO79NE0061

Yes - Free

St Mary's Parish Church, Monymusk - Restoration of Priory church

1929

NJ61NE0004

Yes - Free

St Lesmo's Chapel, Glen Tanar

1934/37

NO49NE0018

Exterior only

 Victory Hall, Aboyne Monymusk church St Lesmo's Chapel 

 

 

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George Marr

Born 1846, Udny. Died 1899, Aberdeen.

Born c.1846, the son of George Marr, who practiced as an architect and surveyor at Chapelhall of Udny from around 1855. George Marr junior began working for his father in the 1860s, and in 1872 they moved their practice to Ellon renaming it G & G Marr, their work focussing largely on farm and school buildings.  The company joined forces with civil engineer George Gordon Jenkins in 1878, becoming Jenkins & Marr, and also worked with William Davidson of Ellon for a short period in the late 19th century.  The practice continued in the vein of its predecessor, working extensively throughout Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen City, on farm and ecclesiastical buildings, residential and public projects. Marr died in Aberdeen in 1899.

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

Lonmay Parish Church (refurbishment)

1872

NK06SW0104

Exterior only

St Mary's Parish Church, Ellon

1876, 1884

NJ93SE0002

Yes - free

Royal Bridge, Ballater

1885

NO39NE0009

Yes - free

(with caution)

Glen Garioch Distillery (Bonded warehouse)

1888

NJ82NW0044

Exterior only

Victoria Hall, Ellon

1897

NJ93SE0109

Exterior only

 

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James Matthews

Born 1819, Aberdeen. Died 1898, Aberdeen (buried in St Nicholas Burial Ground, Aberdeen).

Born in Aberdeen, Matthews studied first at Robert Gordon's before commencing an apprenticeship with Archibald Simpson (working under Thomas Mackenzie). In 1839 he moved to London to continue his training under renowned architect George Gilbert Scott. He returned to Aberdeen around 1844, and soon went into partnership with Thomas Mackenzie; Mackenzie focussed on the Elgin area while Matthews operated out of the Aberdeen office.

The partnership prospered, with works to estates and stately homes as well as residential, ecclesiastical and public buildings. After T. Mackenzie’s death in 1854 Matthews continued the practice, with Thomas’s son Alexander Marshall Mackenzie joining in 1877. 

Outside of architecture, Matthews was a town councillor in Aberdeen from 1863 – 1871, and later served as Lord Provost of Aberdeen from 1883 – 1886. During his term in office, he oversaw the implementation of the City Improvement Act of 1883. He also served as a Director of the North of Scotland Bank.

Matthews retired in 1893, and was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen; he subsequently had a quay named after him in Aberdeen harbour. He died in his home in Aberdeen in 1898, and is buried in St. Nicholas churchyard.  

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

Strathdon Parish Church

1852

NJ31SE0047

Yes - free

Kincardine O'Neil Parish Church

1860

NO59NE0079


Exterior only

Ythanwells Church

1863

NJ63NW0007

Yes - free

Monument to Dingwall Fordyce, Hill of Culsh,

New Deer

1877

NJ84NE0002

Yes - free

Pitsligo New Parish Church, Peathill

1889

NJ96NW0027

Exterior only

Pitsligo churchCulsh MonumentStrathdon church

 

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George Bennett Mitchell

Born 1865, possibly Newburgh. Died 1941, Aberdeen.

Born in Aberdeenshire (possibly the Newburgh area), George Bennett Mitchell studied in Newburgh and Aberdeen. He was apprenticed to Pirie & Clyne (1881) before moving on to Jenkins & Marr, and in 1887 he joined Davidson & Garden, where he was responsible for several works on the Dunecht Estate. Mitchell opened up his own practice in Aberdeen at the close of the 19th Century, to which his son, George Angus Mitchell, was apprenticed from 1913. Mitchell junior became a partner in the firm in 1929, at which point it was renamed George Bennett Mitchell & Son.

Much of Mitchell's earlier work focussed on steadings and offices for the various Estates across Aberdeenshire; he was later responsible for many public and industrial buildings, as well as private residences of all sizes. His output between 1892 and 1941 was prolific. The firm was also responsible for surveying all Church of Scotland property in the region in 1925, photographing redundant and disused churches and drawing up plans of churches and manses.

Outside of architecture, Mitchell was heavily involved with the Boy’s Brigade movement, becoming Commander and President of the Aberdeen Battalion of the Boy's Brigade in 1906. A hall, built in 1939 and forming part of the Boy’s Brigade building on Skene Terrace, Aberdeen, was dedicated to him. During World War II, Mitchell worked as Divisional Food Officer for North-East Scotland.

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

Auchindoir Parish Church

1896

NJ42SE0035

Yes - HS - Free

Kennethmont Parish Church (alterations)

1909

NJ52NW0052

 

Duff House (alterations)

1913, 1920

NJ66SE0007

Yes - HS (fee);

exterior free

Cruden War Memorial

1921

NK03NE0075

Yes - Free

Coull Parish Church and Manse 

1927

NJ50SW0004

Exterior only

Cruden war memorialDuff House

 

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William Robertson

Born 1786, Lonmay. Died 1841, Elgin.

Although little is known about Robertson's training, he worked extensively throughout north Aberdeenshire and Moray from his practice in Elgin established in the 1820s. He was responsible for numerous churches (of all denominations), manses, public buildings and country houses, favouring the Greek Revival and Gothic styles.

Recent research work for the Buildings of Scotland: Aberdeenshire North and Moray publication (2015) resulted in a significant number of previously unknown buildings being attributed to Robertson.

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

Netherdale House, near Turriff

1825

NJ64NE0026

No access

Old Toll House, Deveron Bridge

1826

NJ75SW0023

Exterior only

Eden House (East face)

1828

NJ65NE0024

Exterior only

St Margaret's RC Church, Huntly

1834

 

Yes - free

Collie Lodge, Banff 

1836

NJ66SE0056

Yes - free

Netherdale HouseCollie Lodge

 

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Archibald Simpson

Born 1790, Aberdeen. Died 1847, Aberdeen (buried at the East Church of St Nicholas, Union Street, Aberdeen).

Born in 1790, Archibald Simpson was prolific throughout Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire and Moray, and, along with John Smith, is hailed as transforming Aberdeen into the "Granite City" we know today. He set up in practice in the Aberdeen in 1813, at a time of great expansion and regeneration, and went on to design numerous significant buildings along Union Street and elsewhere in the city.

Schooled in Aberdeen, where he also undertook his initial architectural training, he moved in c.1810 to London to further his training, apprenticed first to architect Robert Luger and later to David Laing. His work demonstrated clear classical and historical influences, with many commissions in the Greek Revival, Neo-classical and Gothic styles.

His worked ranged from churches to civic buildings to country houses, and numerous of examples of his work survive day throughout the North East of Scotland.

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

Kintore Parish Church

1819

NJ71NE0030

Yes - free

Haddo House (alterations)

1822

NJ83SE0042

Yes - NTS

Crimonmogate House

1823

NK05NW0011

No access

Mitchell-Forbes Mausoleum, Strathdon Parish Church

1829

NJ31SE0047

Exterior only

Drumoak Parish Church

1835

NO79NE0043

Yes

Haddo HouseKintore Parish ChurchMitchell-Forbes Mausoleum

 

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John Smith

Born 1781, Aberdeen. Died 1852, Aberdeen.

Educated in Aberdeen, John Smith served an apprenticeship as a stonemason at his father's firm and worked briefly under the renowned architect James Playfair before moving to London where he trained as an architect.

He returned to Aberdeen in 1804, and in 1807 was appointed as the first official city architect of Aberdeen. Smith is credited, along with Archibald Simpson, with turning Aberdeen into the "Granite City". During this period, he produced and published the first accurate survey of Aberdeen City. His work included town planning (he was in part responsible for King Street, Union Street and Union Terrace, and laid out St Nicholas Street), and designed ecclesiastical, estate, civic and public buildings, as well as several bridges. He worked closely with engineer Thomas Telford on the 1820s Aberdeen harbour improvements.

Smith was nicknamed "Tudor Johnny" for his favoured use of the Tudor Gothic in his work, although he also drew on the Neo-Classical and Greek Revival styles. 

Building

Date

SMR Ref No.

Access

Dunecht House

1820

 NJ70NE0015

Exterior only

Temple of Theseus, Pitfour Estate

(also stables, lodges and other works)

1835

NJ94NE0049

NJ94NE0039

Exteriors only

Inverurie Parish Church

1841

NJ72SE0183

Yes - free

Methlick Bridge

1844

NJ83NE0040

Yes - with caution

Balmoral Castle (Ice House, Venison Larder, Pony

Stables, Laundry & Wash House)

1849-52

NO29NE0033

Yes - exteriors only;

Entrance fee

Dunecht HouseMethlick Bridge

 

If you are inspired to learn more about these, and other, architects from the north east of Scotland, a wealth of information can be found online at the Dictionary of Scottish Architects and the Historic Environment Scotland Listed Building portal.

The following publications are also very useful sources of information:

Banff and Buchan: an illustrated architectural guide (1990) C. McKean

Aberdeenshire: Donside and Strathbogie, an illustrated architectural guide (2006, 2nd ed) I. Shepherd

Deeside and the Mearns: an illustrated architectural guide (2001) J. Geddes

The Buildings of Scotland - Aberdeenshire: North and Moray (2015) D. W. Walker & M. Woodworth

The Buildings of Scotland - Aberdeenshire: South and Aberdeen (2015) J. Sharples, D. W. Walker & M. Woodworth

 

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Archibald Simpson

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