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Ronald Walker: Stirling’s Architect

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Ronald Walker was one half of the dynamic architectural duo, McLuckie & Walker, who built many of Stirlingshire’s most striking buildings, including; The Co-operative Building, Logie Kirk, and Manse Crescent. Walker died on Friday 7th July 1911, so this week we are celebrating his legacy, in anticipation of an exhibition and publication we are producing on McLuckie & Walker’s work this autumn.

Luckily (sorry I couldn’t help myself), there is a wealth of information to be mined about Ronald Walker in the form of newspaper articles. Thanks to the British Newspaper Archive, which several members of the SCHT team are big fans of, researching local history has been made far easier. Scrolling through microfiches in archives or libraries is a great way to spend your time, but being able to access newspaper archives from home has been particularly useful over the past few months!

The opening ceremonies for some of McLuckie & Walkers’ best-known buildings reveal that McLuckie was never in attendance at these gatherings, it is always Walker who is recorded as being part of the celebrations. As a result, he usually receives some sort of golden key, pen, or penknife as well as public thanks and congratulations from various Stirling dignitaries who are always thrilled with his work. When Allan’s Primary School, designed by McLuckie & Walker, was opened in January 1890 the Chairman of the School Board, a Re. George Yuille had this to say:

 ‘Since then [1888] the work has been diligently pursued under the constant supervision of Mr Walker, the architect, with whom the various contractors have heartily co-operated, so that today we have the satisfaction of taking possession of this new and stately building’

I’ve yet to find a newspaper report which records Walker’s replies to the thanks and praise he received over his successful career, but I hope I do eventually get to ‘hear’ is voice. From what I can gather he was an affable man, easy to work with and well respected by both his employers and the tradesmen he worked with. His obituary was published in the Dundee Courier, Friday 7th July 1911 and gives us a glimpse into his life outside of his profession:

‘DEATH OF PROMINENT STIRLING MAN. The death took place at his residence in Stirling of Ronald Walker, architect. Mr Walker had not been well for the last two years, and his demise was not unexpected. Deceased, who was 52 years of age, was a native of the Campbelltown district of Argyllshire, and came to Stirling about thirty years ago. After serving as an assistant he entered into partnership with Mr Andrew McLuckie, under the name of McLuckie & Walker, architects and surveyors, and during the last twenty years an extensive building connection was established. Mr Walker was secretary, and afterwards president, of the Stirling Burns Club, and, possessing a nice tenor voice, he often sang at concerts and other gatherings, and knowing Gaelic he was in request to lead the praise at Gaelic services. Mr Walker executed a large amount of work for Ninians School Board, and at the meeting of the Board yesterday sympathetic reference was made his ability as an architect and his personal good qualities.’

I often wonder what happened to all the gilded gifts presented to Walker over the years in recognition of his designs and project management skills. Are they perhaps in a loft in Stirlingshire somewhere? I’d like to hope a few are still treasured family heirlooms.

 

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