Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
McGilvray & Ferris
(fl. 1886-1915)

A firm of architectural sculptors and ornamental plasterers, founded in 1886, by Robert A McGilvray (1849-1914) and Richard Ferris (fl.1886-1914).

McGilvray trained with , and aquired the business on the latter's death. A generous donor to GSA , he regularly sponsored the school's prizes, and provided their winners with opportunities for employment in his studios.

His most important protoge was Richard Ferris . A pupil of J Mossman and Frank Leslie 's at the school, he came to McGilvray's notice in 1886, when he won a cash prize donated by McGilvray for Ornamental Design, and was immediately offered him a partnership in his firm.

Based at 129 West Regent Street, McGilvray & Ferris became the city's most successful providers of interior and exterior decor, often securing the contracts for both firm of its kind in Glasgow, rivalling were responsible for the decorative carving on many Glasgow Style buildings and the plasterwork in several others, such as Norwich Union Chambers (1898).

Working for Honeyman, Keppie and Mackintosh, they executed the carving on the Canal Boatmen's Institute (1891, dem. 1966); a memorial tablet at Bellahouston Dispensary (1900); C R Mackintosh 's plaster panels in the Willow Tea Rooms (1903) and the carving on Scotland Street School (1904-6); the statues on T. & R. Annan's Sudio (1903-4); and the carver and plaster work on the façade and interiors of Dineiddwg (Gaelic, pron: 'Dinaevig'), Milngavie (1906).

They also executed the carver work on Mackintosh's Queen Margaret College (1894), but this was hidden from public view in the 1930's, when the building was enveloped by BBC Scotland's Broadcasting House.

Ferris operated independently as a sculptor exhibiting a Portrait Medallion (1885); a Study of a Head (1892) and portrait busts of Dr. James Adams (1890); H. Wallace (1895) and Sir John Ure Primrose (1906) at the RGIFA .

He later taught modelling at evening classes in the Industrial Arts Department at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College (GWSTC, now University Of Strathclyde), from September 1903 until March 1907, at a salary of £30 per session, and Modelling and Hammered Metal Work in the college's annexe at the Industrial Art Rooms, 78 North Hanover Street.

McGilvray & Ferris amalgamated with George Rome & Co. after McGilvray's death in 1914.

Details on Ferris' life and career after this are not known.

The team at are grateful to Margaret Harrison, Archivist, University of Strathclyde, for information on Ferris' employment at the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College.


  • Honeyman & Keppie Job Books, 1890-1909;
  • GSA Reports, 1879-87;
  • Billcliffe , vol 2;
  • GAPC , 1898-1903;
  • GH (Obit: McGilvray) 2 October, 1914;
  • Information from Margaret Harrison, Archivist, University of Strathclyde;
  • GWSTC: Minutes, 1903-4, p.p. 54, 177, 1907-8, p. 32.
Works in our Database:
1: Bothwell Street (City Centre),
Mercantile Chambers, 35-69 Bothwell street
Mercury, Industry, Prudence, Prosperity and Fortune
and Associated Decorative Carving (1897-8)

Modeller: FD Wood; Carvers: J Young and McGilvray & Ferris;
Architects: J Salmon & Son; Mason: P&W Anderson Ltd
2: Bothwell Street (City Centre),
36-62 Bothwell Street
Profile Heads of Athena and Mercury, Masks representing different nations and Associated Decorative Carving (1891, 1898 and 1901)
Sculptors: McGilvray & Ferris; Architects: H&D Barclay; Masons: Morrison & Mason Ltd
3: Bothwell Street (City Centre),
Commercial Building, 71-7 Bothwell Street
Maritime Imagery (1893)
Sculptor: McGilvray & Ferris
4: Govan Road (Govan),
Former Fairfield Yard Offices, 1030-48 Govan Road
Engineer, Shipwright and Associated Decorative Carving (1890)
Sculptors: JP Macgillivray (figures) and McGilvray & Ferris (reliefs); Architect: J Keppie
5: Hope Street (City Centre),
Atlantic Chambers, 43-7 Hope Street
Columbia, Britannia and Associated Decorative Carving (1899-1900)
Sculptors: McGilvray & Ferris; Architect: JJ Burnet
6: Kelvingrove Park (West End),
Glasgow Art Gallery and Museum - Decorative Carving - Interior
Names and Crests of Glasgow Trades; World Composers; Figures from Scottish History (1892-1902)
Sculptors: McGilvray & Ferris (Central Hall); JM Sherriff (East and West Courts);
Architects: JW Simpson & EJ Milner Allen
7: Mitchell Street (City Centre),
Former Glasgow Herald Buildings,
60-76 Mitchell Street / Mitchell Lane
Carved Ornamentation (1894-6)
Sculptors: J Young and McGilvray & Ferris
8: Queen Margaret Drive (West End),
Former Northpark House - Mackintosh extension,
now BBC Scotland, 20 Queen Margaret Drive
Five Masks and an Iron Finial (1894-5)
Sculptors: McGilvray & Ferris (Masks), George Adam & Son (Iron Finial);
Architects: JT Rochead (oriiginal building), CR Mackintosh (extension)
9: Sauchiehall Street (City Centre),
Royal Highland Fusiliers Museum, (former Annan Gallery), 518 Sauchiehall Streeet
Two Seated Michelangelesque Figures (1903-4)
Sculptors: McGilvray & Ferris; Architects: Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh
#280 10: St Enoch Square (City Centre),
Royal (formerly National) Bank of Scotland, 22-4 St Enoch Square
Symbolic Figures and Associated Decorative Carving (1906-7)
Sculptors: PMC Archibald; Executed by: McGilvray & Ferris,
Architect: AN Paterson; Builder: Alexander Muir & Sons; Foundry: JW Singer & Sons
11: Waterloo Street (City Centre),
Waterloo Chambers, 15-23 Waterloo Street
Seated Female Figures (1898-1900)
Sculptors: McGilvray & Ferris; Architect: JJ Burnet
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