Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
William Boddie
(fl.1876- 1943)

William Boddie was born in 1838, and set up his firm of granite merchants and monumental sculptors in Aberdeen in 1876, with stonecutter Alexander Wilson as a partner, trading as Boddie & Wilson. Their workshop was at 37 Clare Street.

At the time, Boddie lived at 57 John Street, and Wilson at Orchard Bank Cottage, Old Aberdeen.

The partnership was short lived, and in 1882, Boddie is listed in the Aberdeen PODs on his own at 37 Clare Street, and living at 211 King Street. A decade later he expanded his works to include showyards at 255-294 King Street, and moved his home to 3 Roslin Terrace.

The firm produced granite monuments for cemeteries in and around Aberdeen, as well as architectural carving.

Another aspect of their work was the supply and carving of pedestals for public monuments, their most important work of this type being the pedestal for the statue of Sir William Ewart Gladstone in Glasgow's George Square (1902).

Designed by the statue's sculptor, W H Thornycroft , and originally sited on the east side of the square, the pedestal was built from the finest axed Kemnay granite, its type recommended by the monument's builder, Thomas Mason, of Morrison & Mason Ltd , for its quality and economy.

Unveiled on 11 October, 1902, the pedestal stands 13 feet tall (3.96m), and its slightly curved sides are inset with bronze panels illustrating scenes from Gladstone's life. Its front is adorned with a bronze shield with the Arms of Glasgow.

Boddie's masons were also responsible for applying the lettering of Gladstone's name and his dates of birth and death on the pedestal's dado.

It is not known whether Boddie tendered for the job of moving the statue to the north side of the square in 1923, to make way for the Cenotaph, the contract being given instead to the Glasgow firm of monumental sculptors, J & G Mossman .

A photograph of the statue being lowered onto the pedestal on its present site was published in the GH , on 24 March, 1923.

Shortly after the Gladstone commission was completed, Boddie entered into partnership with his son, trading as W Boddie & Son, from 1903.

William Boddie died on 24 April 1917, aged 79, and was buried in Aberdeen's St Peter's Cemetery, King Street, where his grave is marked by a tall, granite Classical monument carved with his entwined initials.

His firm continued trading until 1943, by which time Robert M Walker was its manager.


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