Born in Luss, on 20 May, 1822, Thomas Gildard was apprenticed to
David and James Hamilton
, in December 1838, and throughout his five years
in their office he trained beside
J T Rochead
In 1853, he formed a partnership with his brother-in-law, Robert H M
Macfarlane (d. 1862) at 160 Hope Street. After Macfarlane's death in 1862,
Gildard practiced on his own until 1869, when he joined the City Architect's
office, working under John Carrick
and his successor, A B McDonald.
One of Gildard's important commissions in the mid-1860s was for the plans
of Dumbarton Burgh Hall (1864, unexecuted).
Architecturally, Gildard & Macfarlane designed little of interest other than the domestic,
1-8 Belgrave Terrace, Great Western Road (1856) and the Britannia Music Hall, Trongate (1857),
for which they have since become stars of the city's cultural heritage through having designed the oldest
surviving music hall in Britain, and through the building's celebrated role in the early careers of Stan Laurel
and Cary Grant.
Sculpturally, the Britannia, which probably took its name from
's statue of Britannia
on the nearby John McIntyre's Corner at Glasgow Cross (lost, c. 1949), is of importance due to the fact that its
facade was originally adorned with four pairs of cherubs holding shields, which were lost at some point during
the building's many changes of owner and use.
Gildard also had literary interests and regularly contributed to the Weekly Citizen and
several trade journals.
He is remembered mainly for his reminiscences of
Glasgow's architectural scene in the early 1800s, which were serialised in
The Builder's Journal, in 1895 (he was their Glasgow correspondent).
These are an invaluable source of details about the city's architectural
development and contain fascinating and intimate portraits of major architects
of the day and their mentors and pupils.
The lives and work of the
family of sculptors are particularly illuminated in his accounts of
their meetings and his familiarity with their projects.
A popular figure, he was nicknamed Buffalo Bill by his colleagues at the
Builder's Journal (due to his resemblance to the famous showman) and was
widely mourned after his death on 5th December, 1895.
Gildard was buried in the Necropolis, and his monument, designed by his nephew,
R J Gildard, of Perth (stonework by
J & G Mossman
), was unveiled in a solemn ceremony on the first
anniversary of his death.
This now lies broken and in pieces, although its bronze
portrait panel (executed and gifted by
) is intact.
Macfarlane, about whom very little is known, lies in Glasgow Cathedral's New Burial Ground, the monument carved with his coat of arms
(motto: This I'll Defend).
- The Bailie, Vol. 3, 1895-6, p. 15, no. 869;
: [Obit] 16 December 1895, p. 144,
: 16 December, 1895, pp. 139-140;
: 13 August, 1895, p. 12;
Journal [Obit], Vol. 3, 1895, p. 159;
- Gifford & Walker (2002), p. 406;
- Gomme & Walker