Building Process and Records

Nicky Imrie

Overview ^

Colour photograph of Description of Building submitted to County of Renfrew Second or Lower District County Health Department, cover

In the second half of the 19th century, the construction of new buildings or alterations to existing buildings in Scotland came under the control of increasingly comprehensive and stringent regulations set out in a series of Parliamentary Police Acts. In burghs, such as Glasgow, the planning and building process was overseen by the Dean of Guild Court; in rural areas planning committees were not established until after 1897. 1

Dean of Guild Court records survive in considerable numbers in local council archives across Scotland, and have been the subject of detailed research as a body of archival material. 2 These records may include drawings submitted by architects; Court minutes and case lists; building-inspection registers; and inspection and sanitary certificates. The survival of rural planning committee records, also held at local council archives, is more patchy. They may include drawings, planning application documents, and registers of new buildings. All references to the location of material were correct at the time of writing (2013).

A rare and important glimpse of architects' involvement in the building process during Mackintosh's career in Glasgow (1889–1913) can be found in the job books of John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh (hereafter JHKM), held at The Hunterian, University of Glasgow. For most projects, the books provide the names of contractors; dates and values of tenders submitted; and payments made to the successful contractors, and to additional suppliers of goods and services.

Dean of Guild Court ^

The origins of the Dean of Guild Court lie in the medieval associations, or guilds, which existed to protect the rights and privileges of traders and craftsmen and which had legal jurisdiction over a range of disputes, including some relating to property and building. By the mid-19th century, most of their functions had been taken over by the growing machinery of local government. In Glasgow, exceptionally, the ancient Dean of Guild Court, founded in 1605, continued to function and was described in 1847 as the 'tribunal to which is referred all questions regarding the position and construction of streets and buildings'. 3 The Court's powers were strengthened by the 1862 Glasgow Police Act, which decreed that anyone intending to build within the burgh had to apply for a warrant from the court. In other burghs across Scotland, however, a variety of different systems of building control had evolved by this date. These were often governed by a committee of Police Commissioners. A uniform system was created by the 1892 Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, which laid down rules for a new generation of Dean of Guild Courts with clearly defined powers. Dean of Guild Courts continued to be responsible for building control until their abolition in 1975. 4

In 1884, the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court comprised the Dean of Guild, who was the head of the Merchant's House and given the title 'Lord Dean of Guild'; his deputy, the Sub Dean; the Clerk and assessor of the Court, the legal representative responsible for signing the drawings of successful applications; and eight liners. The liners were particularly involved in cases where the planning application, or lining, was disputed. These men were appointed in equal number by the Trades' House and the Merchants' House, and frequently had professional experience of building. The four Trades' House representatives were usually the current and previous Deacons of the Incorporations of Masons and of Wrights. 5

By 1913, the office of Clerk and assessor had been separated into two posts, and the Master of Works, a representative of Glasgow Corporation's Office of Public Works, also sat on the Court. For the majority of the period under consideration (1889–1913), the position of Clerk was held by solicitor James D. Ramsay. William Guy, another solicitor, succeeded him in 1911. The Court assessor from 1900–15 was Guy's legal partner, University professor James Moir. The Master of Works' inspectors – a team of eleven by 1910 – operated in the eight police districts within the city. Among the principal responsibilities of the Master of Works were examining drawings, sites and existing buildings in respect of the most recent building regulations, and signing off work when completed. The inspectors carried out building visits prior to the case coming before the Court and during building work, and signed certificates on completion. 6 Between 1888 and 1923, the Glasgow Dean of Guild Court generally met in its own court room on the second floor of Glasgow City Chambers. 7

The records of Glasgow Dean of Guild Court are now held at Glasgow City Archive in the Mitchell Library. A database created in the early 1990s has made the Court's extensive collection of drawings, registers of new buildings, minute books, case proceedings and inspection books accessible and allows searches of work passed by the Court from 1885 onwards to be carried out in numerous ways. Just over 500 drawings from the collection have been specially digitised, and many conserved, for the Mackintosh Architecture project. 8

Barrhead, a small town S.W. of Glasgow, and a Victorian centre for the manufacture of pipes, sanitary ceramics and printed textiles, became a burgh of barony in 1894, and a Dean of Guild Court was established. Surviving records of this Court, now held at East Renfrewshire Council archives, include registers of applications and drawings. John Honeyman & Keppie's only work in Barrhead was a house with surgery for Dr John Calderwood. Previously unknown drawings for this house were discovered in the archive during the Mackintosh Architecture project.

Rural Planning Committees ^

In rural areas, new legislation in 1897 empowered County Councils to introduce building control by-laws; however, adherence to these regulations was not compulsory until 1919. The County Councils remained responsible for building control until the local government reorganisation in 1975. 9 Variations in the establishment of building regulations in rural areas are reflected in the breadth or dearth of surviving records.

The County of Renfrew, located S.W. and W. of Glasgow, established two Master of Works department planning committees in 1898–9. The First, or Upper, District Committee was responsible for the area around Paisley, including Nitshill, the location of Hous'hill . Its collection of registers of new buildings, schedules of new buildings and drawings dates from 1898. The Second, or Lower, District included the affluent commuter villages of Bridge of Weir and Kilmacolm, where JHKM built several houses, including Redlands, Windyhill, Auchenbothie Gate Lodge and Mossyde. Its comparable collection of records dates from 1899. The registers of new buildings for both districts are held at Renfrewshire Council Planning department in Paisley, while the bound volumes of schedules of new buildings and bound folios of drawings are held in the Renfrewshire Archives at Paisley Library and Museum.

The vast county of Stirlingshire in central Scotland was subdivided into districts for planning purposes. In 1889–1913, its Western District Committee was responsible for the area including that to the N. and N.W. of Glasgow, now administered by East Dunbartonshire Council, which is the location of two large Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh houses, Dineiddwg and Auchinibert. Records for the Committee date from 1900 and include registers of new buildings and drawings, which are held at Stirling Council Archives. Previously unknown drawings in this collection for two lodges and a large complex of stables on the Dineiddwg estate have been discovered during the Mackintosh Architecture project.

In Perthshire and Ayrshire, where Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh worked on several large projects, including the shop, flat and offices for draper Peter Macpherson in Comrie, a new parish church at Auchterarder, Gadgirth estate and Monktonmiln House, no records for the period 1889–1913 survive. It is probable that building regulations were not adopted in these locations until 1919.

Building Regulations ^

In 1862, a new Police Act for Scotland was passed by Parliament. It was more comprehensive than its predecessors, and was innovative in its provisions in relation to the planning, construction and occupation of buildings and in giving statutory support to all of the activities of the Dean of Guild Courts, including Glasgow's. 10

Section 269 of the Act introduced for the first time the requirement to submit to the Court an application to construct a new building or alter an existing building within the city. Plans and sections were to show the intended work and the location of the building, adjoining streets or courts, and sewers. The plans also had to show rooms designated for sleeping; later conversion of rooms to provide sleeping accommodation would require a new warrant. 11

The extensive Act also made detailed stipulations for the layout of streets, sanitation and ventilation, the quality of building materials, the dimensions of rooms and the occupation of existing buildings. In Glasgow, the Police Acts of 1866 and 1890 made modest amendments to the provisions of the 1862 Act but it was not until 1892 that a comprehensive and national code of regulations for burghs was introduced. 12

The Burgh Police (Scotland) Act of 1892 extended the existing regulations on planning and construction of new buildings; repairs and ruinous buildings; street layout; and ventilation, drainage and water, requiring the introduction of indoor WCs to all residential properties for the first time (section 256). In many locations, planning and building matters were enforced by Police Commissioners. In Glasgow, the Dean of Guild Court had retained these powers. 13

Local building legislation, the Glasgow Building Regulations Act, was introduced simultaneously and was enforced by the Dean of Guild Court. These statutory regulations – some based on existing procedure – applied only to new buildings and additions and alterations to existing buildings (section 4) and introduced new powers such as the provision for the Master of Works to be involved in the examination of applications to build, for the inspection of buildings during construction by the Master of Works' team of inspectors, for completed work to be signed off and reported to the Court by the Master of Works, and for the strength of building materials to be tested during construction (sections 6–9, 13). Several sections addressed the matter of fire safety in domestic buildings: for instance, the construction of external and party walls, supporting structure, and internal partitions around passages and stairs was required to be of incombustible materials, such as stone or brick (section 43). Additional sections addressed fire and general safety, access and the installation of electricity in new public buildings such as theatres, and in workshops and warehouses (sections 59–66). 14

Section 72 of the Glasgow Building Regulations Act provided for additional local by-laws which also only applied to new buildings or additions and alterations to existing buildings. The by-laws further refined regulations on methods of construction; building materials; dimensions of foundations, walls, beams and rooms; ventilation and sanitation; access and safety in public buildings; and planning applications to the Dean of Guild Court. By-law 3 stipulated that 'every application to the Dean of Guild Court for a warrant to erect or alter any building shall be accompanied by plans and sections drawn to a scale of 1 inch to 10 feet and by a block plan to a scale of inch to 10 feet showing the boundaries of the petitioner's ground and the names of the adjoining proprietors and also by detailed plans drawn to a scale of inch to 1 foot showing stairs, iron or steel beams, pillars, walls containing chimney flues, principal timbers. The positions and sizes of all drains, pipes, traps, and cesspools shall be shown or marked distinctly on the plans and sections and the dimensions of all joistings, beams and roof timbers shall be marked on the plans in figures.' 15

An amended Building Regulations Act was introduced in Glasgow in 1900 with further by-laws in 1909, but these do not appear to have altered the building process to any great extent. Though the 1862 and 1892 Acts did apply to all parts of Scotland, a unified code of building regulations for the whole of Scotland was not introduced until 1963. 16

The Measurer ^

The measurer, better known today as a quantity surveyor, was a crucial figure in the building process. When an architect and a client had agreed on a design for a new building, addition or alterations, a measurer was employed to calculate, using the architect's drawings and other information, the quantities of materials required to complete the work satisfactorily. In Scotland in the late 19th and early 20th century, it was customary for quantities to be estimated and work carried out by individual trades. These estimated bills of quantities were recorded in the measurer's 'cube book' and subsequently distributed to the contractors invited by the architects to tender for the work (see 'Job Books' below). 17 Following completion of all work on the project, the measurer would carry out a final measurement to determine the total cost and final payments to contractors.

Measurers charged a fee of 2.5% of the total estimated cost of the work. 18 Entries in JHKM job books, such as for T. & R. Annan's, Sauchiehall Street premises, explain how these fees were paid. It seems that the architects paid half of the fee themselves, while the other half was recouped from the various contractors' accounts. ' measurer's fee' can be seen below final payments to individual contractors in the job books. 19

Measurers working in Glasgow in 1889–1913 were governed by the city's own Institute of Measurers founded in 1881. In 1908, it amalgamated with the Edinburgh Society of Ordained Surveyors to form the Scottish Faculty of Surveyors, which was awarded a Royal Charter in 1913. 20 The Glasgow Institute of Measurers – and later the Faculty – was responsible for the training of new measurers. It organised standardised courses and examinations in collaboration with local educational institutions, and Institute members served as teaching staff. Only measurers passing these examinations could be ordained by the city sheriff, and thus practise legally. 21 The Institute also created and enforced high professional standards among its members, publishing and updating at regular intervals its own 'mode of measurement' for, and in consultation with, each trade involved in building projects, and in consultation with architects. 22 The modes gave precise details of how to calculate for the variety of building types and external and internal features, for various materials, and for any activities required to allow other trades to carry out their work, known as 'jobbings'. The jobbings could include cutting holes in masonry or brickwork to allow joiners to insert beams or plumbers or gasfitters to install pipework, and were charged separately. 23 Payments for 'jobbings' appear regularly in job-book entries, following the principal payments to a contractor.

Measurers in the mid-1890s were apparently under considerable pressure to carry out their work swiftly and carefully, but often without adequate information. Evidently keen to highlight these disadvantageous circumstances and to improve the measurer's lot, John Keppie raised the matter at a meeting of the Glasgow Building Trades Exchange in November 1895. He remarked that 'measurers should insist on getting sufficient time to do their work thoroughly, and a sufficiency of drawings to thoroughly illustrate the designs they were asked to survey. He urged also the advisability of coming to some understanding as to the time necessary for the completing of measurements and the making of final payments for work done. He expressed surprise that such a scale had not up till now been drawn up, and indicated that it would be of great value to all the parties concerned. The loss involved in the breaking of such a rule should, he said, be borne by the infringers, and should not involve the contractor in the loss of the use of this money, as it at present does.' 24

Job Books ^

Although precisely how and where new work was advertised to contractors by architects in Glasgow is not yet fully understood, the job-book entries offer insight into the tendering process. Included in the extensive job-book entry for the Glasgow School of Art is the annotation 'list of masons to be invited to tender' – see job book GLAHA 53062, p. 155, below. This suggests that, in this case at least, the architects identified possible contractors to approach for each type of work, sent out details of the job to them, including a bill of quantities drawn up by the measurers, and entered the contractors' names into the job book. 25 Adjacent to some names here, and in other project entries, are the words 'returned with thanks', presumably meaning that the contractor declined to submit a tender and instead returned the bill of quantities – see job book GLAHA 53061, p. 149, below . Contractors may have declined for various reasons. For example, Robert Aitkenhead & Co. turned down the opportunity of tendering for the mason work for the addition and alterations to West Parish Church, Greenock in 1911: 'returned too busy' was entered in the job book – see job book GLAHA 53063, p. 54, below. 26

Colour photograph Job book page from Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh, p. 155 Colour photograph Job book page from Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh, p. 149 Colour photograph Job book page from Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh, p. 54

The Planning and Building Process Reconstructed ^

The surviving evidence in Dean of Guild Court and planning committee records and the firm's visit, job and cash books, along with the documents outlining the building regulations and modes of measurement, make it possible to reconstruct the typical process of designing and constructing a new building or making significant additions and alterations in Glasgow during the Mackintosh years 1889–1913.

  • Client and architect make contact.
  • Architect visits site and draws up sketch plans.
  • Alterations to sketch plans may be made at client's request.
  • Drawings are prepared for submission to the Dean of Guild Court according to building regulations.
  • Master of Works and inspector examine drawings and proposed site and consult with neighbouring property owners as required.
  • Measurer employed to draw up estimated bills of quantities for contractor tenders; measurer's fee is based on the total estimate cost of the work and materials.
  • Contractors invited to tender.
  • At a twice-monthly meeting of the Dean of Guild Court, the drawings are examined. If approved, they are annotated and signed to this effect by the Master of Works. The case appears in the Dean of Guild Court minutes and in the Master of Works list of cases. Details of the cubic capacity of the work and any street restrictions caused by it are recorded.
  • The work is entered into the register of new plans, which is organised alphabetically by the name of the petitioner (usually the client). The project is also entered into the inspection book for the relevant city police district, with its address, and the names of the petitioner, architect and mason or builder.
  • Contractor tenders submitted to architects and recorded in the firm's job books. Contractors selected for each type of work.
  • Once work has commenced, an inspector employed by the Master of Works visits the construction site at regular intervals and records progress in the inspection book.
  • Contractors are often paid in instalments as work progresses. These are recorded in the job books. Payment by the client of architect's fees is often made in instalments. These are recorded in the firm's cash book.
  • On completion of work, a sanitary inspection is carried out. This includes testing the drains for cracks and leaks using smoke. If all tests are passed, a certificate is issued. The inspector then signs off the work and a certificate, including the dates of all inspection visits, is issued by the Master of Works department. 354 Dumbarton Road and Craigpark Drive tenements provide examples of these processes. The sign-off date is entered into the register of inspections and the register of new buildings. Final measurement of completed building or additions and alterations is carried out by the measurer, allowing final contractor payments to be issued.
  • Final payments are made to contractors, including for jobbings. The measurer's fee is recovered by the architects from contractors' payments. The measurer is paid.
  • Outstanding fees due from the client are paid. In some cases, these payments appear in the cash book up to a year after the work is completed.

Notes:

1: Iain M. Gray, 'Survey of Dean of Guild Court Records', in Rebecca M. Bailey, ed., Scottish Architects' Papers: A Source Book, Edinburgh: Rutland Press, 1996, pp. 171–3, 176. Several areas now within the boundaries of Glasgow were at that time separate burghs with their own police acts and building regulations. These included Hillhead and Maryhill (absorbed by Glasgow in 1891); Kinning Park (absorbed 1905); Partick, Govan and Pollokshaws (absorbed 1912). Burghs outside Glasgow in which JHKM worked included Paisley; Barrhead; Greenock; Gourock; Biggar; Bridge of Allan; Linlithgow; Auchterarder; Perth; Brechin; and Kirkcudbright.

2: Iain M. Gray, 'Survey of Dean of Guild Court Records', in Rebecca M. Bailey, ed., Scottish Architects' Papers: A Source Book, Edinburgh: Rutland Press, 1996, pp. 169–203.

3: Glasgow Past and Present, vol. 1, Glasgow: David Robertson & Co., 1884, pp. 10–12; Francis H. Groome , Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, vol. 3, London: William Mackenzie, [1894/5], p. 135; James Pagan, Sketches of the History of Glasgow, Glasgow: Robert Stuart & Co., 1847, p. 130.

4: Corporation of Glasgow, Municipal Glasgow: Its Evolution and Enterprises, Glasgow: R. Gibson, 1915, pp. 194–5; Iain M. Gray, 'Survey of Dean of Guild Court Records', in Rebecca M. Bailey, ed., Scottish Architects' Papers: A Source Book, Edinburgh: Rutland Press, 1996, pp. 171–3.

5: Glasgow Past and Present, vol. 1, Glasgow: David Robertson & Co., 1884, pp. 10–12; Francis H. Groome, ed., Ordnance Gazetteer of Scotland: A Survey of Scottish Topography, Statistical, Biographical and Historical, vol. 3, London: William Mackenzie, 1884, p. 135; Andrew M. Jackson, Glasgow Dean of Guild Court: A History, Glasgow: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court Trustees, 1983, p. 108.

6: Andrew M. Jackson, Glasgow Dean of Guild Court: A History, Glasgow: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court Trustees, 1983, pp. 89–111.

7: Andrew M. Jackson, Glasgow Dean of Guild Court: A History, Glasgow: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court Trustees, 1983, p. 107.

8: This photography was supported by a grant from the Pilgrim Trust.

9: Iain M. Gray, 'Survey of Dean of Guild Court Records', in Rebecca M. Bailey, ed., Scottish Architects' Papers: A Source Book, Edinburgh: Rutland Press, 1996, p. 176.

10: Andrew M. Jackson, Glasgow Dean of Guild Court: A History, Glasgow: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court Trustees, 1983, p. 87.

11: Andrew M. Jackson, Glasgow Dean of Guild Court: A History, Glasgow: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court Trustees, 1983, pp. 87–8.

12: Andrew M. Jackson, Glasgow Dean of Guild Court: A History, Glasgow: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court Trustees, 1983, p. 88.

13: Burgh Police (Scotland) Act, 1892, reproduced in Catalogue and Book of References, The Glasgow Building Trades Exchange, 1896, Glasgow City Archive Collection: T-ARD 17/36, pp. 65–82.

14: Glasgow Building Regulations Act, 1892, reproduced in Catalogue and Book of References, The Glasgow Building Trades Exchange, 1896, Glasgow City Archive Collection: T-ARD 17/36, pp. 28–46.

15: By-laws made by the Glasgow Police Commissioners under the powers contained in the Glasgow Building Regulations Act, 1892, reproduced in Catalogue and Book of References, The Glasgow Building Trades Exchange, 1896, Glasgow City Archive Collection: T-ARD 17/36, pp. 48–61.

16: Andrew M. Jackson, Glasgow Dean of Guild Court: A History, Glasgow: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court Trustees, 1983, pp. 92, 96.

17: Francis M. L. Thompson, Chartered Surveyors: The Growth of a Profession, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968, pp. 264–5; J. M. Trushell, 'Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms: Cost Analyses', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 67, Summer 1995, p. 3.

18: J. M. Trushell, 'Miss Cranston's Tea Rooms: Cost Analyses', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 67, Summer 1995, p. 3.

19: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53062, p. 19.

20: Francis M. L. Thompson, Chartered Surveyors: The Growth of a Profession, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968, pp. 216, 258.

21: Francis M. L. Thompson, Chartered Surveyors: The Growth of a Profession, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968, p. 216.

22: National standards for measurement were introduced across the UK in the early 1920s. Francis M. L. Thompson, Chartered Surveyors: The Growth of a Profession, London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1968, p. 216; British Architect, 43, 22 March 1895, p. 202.

23: For jobbings in connection with brickwork, see 'Regulations for Measurement of Brick Work. Glasgow Mode of Measurement, 1894' reproduced in Catalogue and Book of References, The Glasgow Building Trades Exchange, 1896, Glasgow City Archive Collection: T-ARD 17/36, p. 92.

24: British Architect, 44, 29 November 1895, p. 378.

25: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53062, p. 155.

26: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: John Honeyman & Keppie / Honeyman Keppie & Mackintosh job book, GLAHA 53063, p. 54.