Celebrating John Allan: A Man of Original Ideas

On the 100th anniversary of John Allan’s death, we commemorate his contribution to the townscape of Stirling.

Celebrating John Allan

21 April 1847- 21 February 2022

Amongst all the great Scottish architects it is easy to forget about the people who lived in our towns and cities and who designed the townscapes we walk through every day. In Stirling, these include Ebeneezer Simpson, Andrew McLuckie, Ronald Walker and John Allan. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, these men transformed the burgh through their designs for everything from houses to roller skating rinks to clock towers. It would be hard to argue that of these architects, the buildings of John Allan are the most memorable and distinctive.

John Allan was born in Carnock in Fife in 1847. He moved to Stirling around 1870 and set up his architectural practice. He was a remarkable man who campaigned for better housing for poorer people, designing low cost houses which were affordable. He experimented with new materials and techniques including steel and cavity walls. He was also not afraid to embrace different building materials such as his enthusiasm for Welsh Ruabon brick. He was a man most definitely ahead of his time. However, he retained a foot in the past, with his interest in antiquities, archaeology and symbolism. These featured in his buildings as he introduced curious and intriguing mottos onto the facades.

Photograph of John Allan. Reproduced courtesy of Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries.

Mona Place, an example of a tenement designed by John Allan. Reflective of his interest to improve works dwellings Mona Place incorporated modern housing standards and sanitation concepts. Photo © Jo Cound

His legacy is a series of striking buildings including Wolf Craig, 55 Baker Street, Royal Gardens, Batterflats and 29 Friars Street. These are buildings which are homes and places of work, functional buildings which have stood the test of time and still, every day, stand as a testament to a man full of original ideas.

On the 100th anniversary of John Allan’s death, we commemorate his contribution to the townscape of Stirling through a series of short blogs and an online exhibition celebrating John Allan.

In 2017, three members of Stirling Local History Society, Stuart Campbell, Dorothy Wilson and Andy McEwen wrote a book about the life and work of John Allan. It is available from the SLHS or in the Stirling Smith. It is also available to download from our website.

Download John Allan a Man of Original Ideas book

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