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Alexander Thomson (also known as 'Greek', 'Greek')

Alexander Thomson, architect, was born on 9 April 1817 at Endrick Cottage, Balfron, Stirlingshire. He began work in a writer's office before he was noticed by the Glasgow architect Robert Foote, who took him on as an apprentice. He then worked in the office of the architect John Baird I (1798-1859), with whom he stayed for ten years, becoming chief draughtsman.

Thomson set up his own practice in Glasgow in 1848, and after several partners he finally settled with Robert Turnbull (1838-1905) and the firm was known as A. and G. Thomson and Turnbull.

The firm had begun by building villas in the suburbs of Glasgow and along the Clyde estuary. These were designed in a variety of styles including the Gothic and Romanesque. By the mid-1850s Thomson had developed a refined and abstracted Grecian manner. He was never a conventional Greek revivalist and often adapted precedents from Greece, Egypt, and elsewhere.

It has been argued that more than any other architect, Thomson gave a distinct character to Glasgow in his designs for warehouses, commercial buildings, and terraces of houses and tenements. His commercial buildings included the Egyption Halls in Union Street (1870-72), while his domestic work encompassed the Great Western Terrace (1867-77) and Queen's Park Terrace, Eglington Street (1856-60).

Thomson also undertook monumental urban churches for United Presbyterian congregations. The only one to survive intact is the St Vincent Street Church (1857-9), with its tall and exotic steeple.

He died in 1875 and was buried in an unmarked plot at the Southern Necropolis in Glasgow.


Stamp, G (2004) 'Thomson, Alexander [Greek Thomson] (1817-1875)', Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Oxford

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