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Celebrating John Allan: A Man of Original Ideas

John Allan Photo Preview

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.

Black and white photography John Allan. A bearded man sitting on a pile of branches, walking stick in his hand
Photograph of John Allan. Reproduced courtesy of Dunfermline Carnegie Library and Galleries.

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.

John Allan designed Mona Place, a three storey stone building with a green front door, large central chimney and 6 large windows on each floor.
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

John Allan Buildings timeline

Slide
1871
Town Hall (extension), Alva
Demolished
1873
Paterson Factory (extension), Burghmuir, Stirling
Demolished
1875-77
Swiss Ville, 30 Albert Place, Stirling
Extant
1877
42 Albert Place and 1-9 Royal Gardens, Stirling
Extant
1878
Cliff Bank, 32-34 Albert Place, Stirling
Extant
1878
28 Albert Place (with 1 Clarendon Road), Stirling
Extant
1879
Farm cottages, Sauchieburn Estate, Stirlingshire
Extant
1879
2 Park Avenue, Stirling
Extant
1879
Abbey Craig House, Hillfoots Road, Causewayhead
Extant
1882
Dugald Buchanan Memorial (design), Strathyre
Extant
1887
2-4 Balmoral Place, Stirling
Extant
1887
Pedestal and enclosure for Beheading Stone, Gowan Hill, Stirling
Extant
1887
Bush Tavern, 55-57 Port Street, Stirling
Extant
1888
Park Avenue / Victoria Place (and poss. 1894)
Demolished
1889
North Church, Stirling (supervised execution of refurnishing and renovation)
Demolished
1890
55 Baker Street, Stirling
Extant
1893
Carnock Parish Church (church hall extension and renovation of church)
Extant
1893-95
Batterflats, Polmaise Road, Stirling
Extant
1895
8 Park Avenue (Billiards Room building), Stirling
Extant
1895
Park Avenue / Clarendon Place, Stirling
Extant
1897
Wolf Craig, 1 Dumbarton Road, Stirling
Extant
1897
Mona Place, 25 Newhouse, Stirling
Extant
1898
Albany Crescent, Stirling. Except Magic Square carved stone tablet
Demolished
1900
56 Main Street, Doune
Extant
1901
Taylor’s Buildings, Quakerfield, Bannockburn
Demolished
1902
29-31 Friars Street, Stirling
Extant
1907
Spittalmyre, Wallace Street, Stirling
Extant
1909
Abbey Craig Park House (Tower), Hillfoots Road, Causewayhead
Extant
1911
Bridgehae, 3-5 Bridgehaugh Road, Stirling
Extant
1913?
Auction rooms, 30 Spittal Street, Stirling. Converted
Extant

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