Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
Walter McLachlan

Walter McLachlan was born in Irvine, the son of the builder James McLachlan, whose trade he followed.

Based in Irvine’s Townhead, according to George Blair in 1857, McLauchlan (sic) was the ‘contractor’, i.e. the builder, of the William Motherwell Monument in the Necropolis (1851), designed by sculptor James Fillans.

After McLachlan’s men completed their work, the sculptor moved in to carve the reliefs and place a marble bust of Motherwell under the monument’s Tudor canopy.

Blair also noted that McLachlan was a ‘Councillor’, suggesting that he was active in politics. Indeed, he served on Irvine’s Town Council from 1845 and as a Bailie from 1852.

As a builder he was responsible for constructing Irvine’s Town House (1859), the Bank of Scotland and the Union Bank, all in the town's High Street, as well as major buildings in Dumfriesshire.

He was also a magistrate, Convenor of the Incorporated Trades, as well as the burgh’s Dean of Guild, and an elder in the Established Church. In 1851, he resided in Eglinton Street East with his son, James, who eventually succeeded to his business, his two daughters and his mother (aged 79), and Eliza McNeill, their servant.

Early in February 1868, McLachlan was called to Mentone in France to visit an invalid relative, and during a stay in Paris during his homeward journey he contracted Typhus fever and died there within a few days, on 12th February 1868.

He was buried in Irvine’s Old Parish Churchyard, where his death is recorded on two stones.

For some years afterwards, his business was carried on by his son, James, as Walter McLachlan & Son, based at East Back Road.


  • The Ardrossan And Saltcoats Herald, In Memoriam, 15th February, 1868, p. 8;
  • Pigot’s Directory, 1825-37;
  • The Ayrshire Directory, 1851-87;
  • Irvine Town Council Minutes, 1845-68;
  • Irvine Census, 1851, D.4. p. 31,
  • Irvine Census, 1861, D.6. p. 3;
  • Monumental Inscriptions Within Cunninghame District: Irvine Area, Vol. 1 (1985), p. 89, B2, B3;
  • Ibid, Photographic Survey, Vol. 3;
  • Gunnis , p.144;
  • Blair, pp. 61-72;
  • Woodward ; Welsh;
  • Black, p.61 (35);
  • Paterson ;
  • Rowand ;
  • McKenzie (1999)

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