A monumental sculptor, he was born in Dyke, Morayshire, and trained with
J & G Mossman
before opening a rival firm specialising in the production of
granite monuments for Glasgow's cemeteries.
He became the manager of Mossman's granite workshop in 1875,
and subsequently purchased the firm in 1891 soon after
death, and continued to operate under the firm's original
name, as well as signing many monuments with his own name.
He originally set up on his own as a sculptor in granite and freestone in 1878, with premises at St James' Cross,
Stirling Road, and in 1879 he moved to 8 Mason Street (now part of Cathedral Street),
and lived nearby at 30 Taylor Street, where he occupied a three-room apartment together with
his wife, Margaret Nicol, and their four sons, James Nicol Smith, George, Peter and Alexander.
By 1885, he had also set up a workshop at Sighthill Cemetery, and a new home at 79 John Knox Street, which
he occupied until 1894, when he moved his family to 126 Montrose Street, and by which time he had already taken over
J & G Mossman
Under his direction
J & G Mossman
produced a considerable number of monuments for the Necropolis and other
cemeteries in Glasgow, and exported monuments to others throughout Scotland and to the USA.
His important Necropolis work includes the stonework for the monument to Alexander McCall, designed by
C R Mackintosh
with a bronze portrait panel by
J P Macgillivray
(1888) and the monument to the architect Thomas Gildard, which incorporates a bronze
portrait relief by
He also produced an astonishing number of Celtic crosses for the Necropolis, carved with a variety of designs and motifs,
some of which were devised by major Glasgow architects. A particularly good example being the elaborately carved cross to William
Craig Blackburn, which was designed by James Thomson (1903).
A good example of Smith's work outside Glasgow is the monument to James Allan in Helensburgh Cemetery, which features a huge marble
roundel carved with the Agnus Dei (1891).
In 1908, he moved the firm's workshop and office to 18 Cathedral Street, which he ran until his death on 24 May 1911,
after which the firm passed to his decendants, the Nicol Smith's and Pollock Smith's.
Smith was buried in the Necropolis, his grave marked with a granite monument produced by his own firm, and which
His successors relocated the firm's premises again in 1915, to 56-60 Cathedral Street, which it occupied until 1977, when a they
moved their workshop and head office out of the city to 42-4 Parkhead Road, Alloa, Clackmannanshire.
The firm still retains a showroom in Glasgow, at 284 High Street, Glasgow.
- Census Returns, 1881, 644-5, Book 5;
- Information from J & G Mossman Ltd;
- Information from Kenny Pollock Smith;