James Black Fulton

Architect; JHKM employee

Reproduction of perspective by J. B. Fulton of royal mausoleum, from 'Builder', 4 February 1900

Architect James Black Fulton was the son and grandson of shoemakers from Fenwick, Ayrshire, where he was born in August 1875. He was related to John Fulton (1803–1853), a well known scientific instrument maker and orrery builder. 1 In the early 1880s, James's father was appointed gardener and janitor to the East Chapelton Reformatory for Girls, Bearsden, where the Fultons lived in the gate lodge. The school, designed by John Honeyman, was run by a local committee whose treasurer was the architect's brother, Michael Honeyman. 2

In 1890, James Fulton was 'articled with W. F. McGibbon Esq., F.R.I.B.A., Glasgow, 5 years'. 3 That year he also enrolled in evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art, and almost immediately 'swept the competition board of all the available student prizes. His record ... is probably unequalled'. He was 'an irresistable victor', his long series of awards commencing with the Haldane Bursary in 1890, and four local examination prizes for drawing and the bursary again, in 1891. 4 In 1892 and 1893, Fulton received free studentships, achieved 1st or 2nd class in local architectural examinations, and was Queen's Prizeman in the National Competition for architectural design. 5

Fulton became an assistant to John Honeyman & Keppie and was first paid by the partners in July 1895, spending the next two years in the Glasgow offices. Fulton has been described as 'one of the greatest architectural draughtsmen of all time', and he continued to prove this. His Silver Medal drawings in the National Competition of 1897 (Choir-stalls, King's College Chapel, Aberdeen) won him the Aldwinkle Studentship for 1898. 6 The British Architect reported, 'There has been no better draughtsmanship exhibited at the [RIBA] than is shown [by Fulton, whose] work perhaps reaches a higher level than Mr C. de Gruchy [the winner] of the Pugin Scholarship'. 7 His drawings, which also won the English Travelling Studentship, were part of a nationwide touring exhibition in the spring of 1898, and attracted press attention. 'Of all the competitors for the [RIBA's] prizes for 1898 ... Mr Fulton was selected as the person who ... would best carry out the [Aldwinkle] donor's intentions'. 8

After leaving John Honeyman & Keppie around October 1897, Fulton used his bursaries to travel to Spain, where his sketches included Salamanca Cathedral, Cordoba and Granada. He continued his training in London, with the practices of Niven & Wigglesworth, J. H. Gibson and Sir Aston Webb. In 1900, he produced perspectives of St John's College, Oxford, for which his future brother-in-law, Nathaniel W. Harrison, became surveyor in 1903. 9 Fulton also won further prestigious awards, including the Soane Medallion of 1902, which enabled him to travel for nine months during 1903, to Gibraltar, Algiers, Malta, Egypt, Turkey, Greece and Italy. 10

Fulton set up in independent practice in London in 1903. Drawings by him related to the National Museum of Wales survive. Fulton also taught at London County Council's School of Building at Brixton for twelve years. 11

Fulton was enlisted for the First World War in November 1916. Educated professionals normally became officers, but Fulton refused to apply for a commission and remained a sapper, or private, in the Royal Engineers. 12 He was discharged on health grounds after nine months. 13

A much-admired teacher, he became Director of Studies at Glasgow School of Architecture in September 1920. 14 His brother-in-law, N. W. Harrison, nominated him for Fellowship of the RIBA in 1921. 15 His health continued to deteriorate and he was classed '100%' disabled in July 1921. He died in Glasgow in April 1922. 16

Notes:

1: Statutory Births, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk; 'James Black Fulton', Dictionary of Scottish Architects, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk; 'Fulton's Orrery', Collection Highlights, Glasgow Museums, www.glasgowlife.org.uk; 'Fulton's Orrery', Collections Navigator, Glasgow Museums, http://collections.glasgowmuseums.com [all accessed 20 March 2014].

2: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1885–6, Appendix, p. 121; Census information, www.ancestry.co.uk; Valuation Roll 1885–6, Census 1911, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [all accessed 19 March 2014]; David Stark, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and Co., Catrine, Ayrshire: Stenlake Publishing, 2004, p. 96.

3: J. B. Fulton, 1920, 'Candidate's Statement', RIBA Nomination Papers, A, Vol. 17, p. 11, Library, Royal Institute of British Architects, London; Census information, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 19 March 2014].

4: Student Registers, information kindly provided by the Glasgow School of Art Archives, 12 March 2014; Beresford Pite, 'The Late J. B. Fulton', Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 29, 1921–2, p. 412.

5: Student Registers, information kindly provided by the Glasgow School of Art Archives, 12 March 2014; Glasgow Herald, 31 August 1894, p. 4; J. B. Fulton, 1920, 'Candidate's Statement', RIBA Nomination Papers, A, Vol. 17, p. 11, Library, Royal Institute of British Architects, London.

6: Scotsman, 25 November 1897, p. 10; Aberdeen Journal, 7 April 1898, p. 4.

7: 'The R.I.B.A. Students' Competition', British Architect, 49, 1898, pp. 37–8.

8: Nottinghamshire Guardian, 5 March 1898, p. 5; J. B. Fulton, 1920, 'Candidate's Statement', RIBA Nomination Papers, A, Vol. 17, p. 11, Library, Royal Institute of British Architects, London.

9: J. B. Fulton, 'Salamanca (Spain): View of the cathedral', PB289/24, and 'Perspective of St John's College, Oxford, 1900', Inner Quadrangle, by J. B. Fulton, RIBA Silver Medal, PB261/10, British Architectural Library; J. B. Fulton, 1920, 'Candidate's Statement', RIBA Nomination Papers, A, Vol. 17, p. 11, Library, Royal Institute of British Architects, London; Geoffrey Tyack, Modern Architecture in an Oxford College, Oxford: University Press, 2005, p. 3.

10: James B. Fulton, Soane Medallist 1902, 'Report to the Council of the RIBA, 28 December 1903' LC/39/3/25, British Architectural Library; J. B. Fulton, 1920, 'Candidate's Statement', RIBA Nomination Papers, A, Vol. 17, p. 11, Library, Royal Institute of British Architects, London.

11: 'Competition Design for the National Museum of Wales, 1910', Gregynog Box Collection (111), The Architecture of Wales: Architectural Drawings in the National Library of Wales, online exhibition, www.llgc.org.uk/ardd/pensaeri/architect.htm; 'James Black Fulton', Dictionary of Scottish Architects, www.scottisharchitects.org.uk [accessed 21 March 2014].

12: Chris Baker 2014, 'The Military Service Act 1916', The Long, Long Trail: The British Army ... 1914–1918, www.1914-1918.net [accessed 21 March 2014]; Beresford Pite, 'The Late J. B. Fulton', Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 29, 1921–2, p. 412.

13: British Army W.W.I Service Records, 1914–1920; British Army W.W.I Pension Records 1914–1920, online resources, www.ancestry.co.uk [both accessed 21 March 2014].

14: Edward G. Wylie, 'The late J. B. Wylie: addendum', Journal of the Royal Institute of British Architects, 29, 1921–2, p. 412.

15: A. Brodie, A. Felstead, et al., eds, Directory of British Architects 1834–1914, London: Continuum, 1, pp. 696, 854–5.

16: British Army W.W.I Service Records, 1914–1920; British Army W.W.I Pension Records 1914–1920, online resources, www.ancestry.co.uk [both accessed 21 March 2014].