Holmes & Jackson

Carvers

Holmes & Jackson were a firm of sculptors and modellers active from 1892 to 1963. 1 Contrary to existing published sources. which believe the firm's principals to be John Holmes and Mat(t)ew Jackson, graduates of Glasgow School of Art in the 1880s–90s, it seems that the principals were in fact David Jackson (c. 1866–1923) and John Holmes (1860–1936), and that the titular partnership lasted for less than two years, from c. 1893–4. 2

Born in Glasgow to Ayrshire parents, Holmes's father Robert, and elder brother, James (c. 1852–1910) were both master plasterers. 3 Aged twenty-one in 1881, Holmes was a 'plasterer's shopman', living in the Gorbals, and possibly working with his father, as a 'plasterer's modeller'. 4 Ten years later, Holmes was married and running his own small firm, 'John Holmes & Co., modellers, 249 St Vincent Street'. However, around 1893, he went into partnership with David Jackson. 5 The partners continued working from Holmes's established address, but split in January 1894. 6

Jackson's background was similar to that of Holmes. His father was a carter living in the Gorbals, and by the age of sixteen, in 1881, Jackson was working as a plasterer's assistant. 7 A 'modeller' in 1891, he worked with Holmes from c. 1893 until January 1894, and then retained the business name and premises. 8

John Holmes meanwhile, probably worked with his elder brother James Holmes, who appears in the Glasgow Post Office Directory as a 'modeller' from 1901 to 1903, at 12 North Claremont Street. 9 One or both of the Holmes brothers worked as 'J. Holmes & Co., plasterers and modellers, 32 King Street', near Glasgow Cross, until 1910, when James died. 10 John continued as a journeyman 'decorative modeller', living in Dennistoun with his young adopted son. 11 He retired to Dunoon, and is described as a 'clay modeller, journeyman' on his death certificate. 12

In the late 1890s, Holmes & Jackson moved to 55–61 Jane Street, off Blythswood Square, an area with a preponderance of artists, decorative painters, fine art dealers, architects and measurers. 13 The workshop's output was prolific, and some reason for the confusion of staff names may be that David Jackson's younger brother, one Matthew Jackson (born c. 1882), had probably joined the firm as a 'stucco modeller' by 1901. The youngest Jackson brother, John (born c. 1885) was also a plasterer's apprentice. 14

By 1911, Matthew Jackson was living at Annandale Street, Govanhill, with his wife and two sons, and was described as a sculptor. Older brother David was living with his four children at 28 Holland Street, near his studio, where he died in 1923. 15 When he died in 1923, David Jackson was noted as 'of Holmes & Jackson, modellers', leaving 14,621, the largest estate listed in Glasgow that week. 16 The firm continued until the 1920s, and an offshoot, 'Matthew Jackson & Co., modellers and sculptors, 44 Jane Street', was probably operated by the son of one of the brothers – both Matthew and David Jackson had sons named 'Matthew'. 17

Among the works completed by Holmes & Jackson and their various employees, were the Govan burgh arms on the Elder Free Library, Govan (architect J. J. Burnet, 1903), and the figures of Science and Industry designed by Phyllis Archibald, at 28 West Campbell Street (1905) another Burnet building. 18 They produced a chimneypiece for E. A. Hornel, at Broughton House, Kirkcudbright (1908), and during the 1920s their output included war memorials, which had a special section to themselves in the local trades directory. 19

Notes:

1: Ray McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool: University Press, 2002, p. 487.

2: Gary Nisbet, 'Holmes & Jackson Ltd. (fl. 1892–1963) Short Biography', 2001–12, Glasgow City of Sculpture, www.glasgowsculpture.com; 'Holmes and Jackson Ltd', Mapping the Practice and Profession of Sculpture in Britain and Ireland, 1851–1951, 2011, online database, http://sculpture.gla.ac.uk [both accessed 26 June 2013]; census data, www.ancestry.co.uk; death data, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [both accessed 26 June 2013]; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1893–4, p. 330; Edinburgh Gazette, 29 May 1894, p. 624.

3: Census data, www.ancestry.co.uk; death data, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [both accessed 26 June 2013].

4: Census data, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 26 June 2013].

5: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1891–2, p. 323; 1892–3, p. 329; 1893–4, p. 330.

6: Edinburgh Gazette, 29 May 1894, p. 624; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1894–5, p. 336.

7: Census data, www.ancestry.co.uk [accessed 26 June 2013].

8: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1894–5, p. 336; 1895–6, p. 263.

9: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1901–2, p. 294; 1903–4, p. 302.

10: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1905–6, p. 371; 1910–11, p. 329.

11: Census 1911, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 26 June 2013].

12: Statutory deaths, Dunoon, Argyll, 31 January 1936, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 26 June 2013].

13: Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1899–1900, p. 288.

14: Census 1901, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 26 June 2013].

15: Census data, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 26 June 2013]; Scotsman, 20 June 1923, p. 14.

16: Scotsman, 20 June 1923, p. 14; 27 October 1923, p. 7.

17: Census data, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 26 June 2013]; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1924–5, p. 328.

18: Ray McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool: University Press, 2002, pp. 446, 463.

19: Ray McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool: University Press, 2002, p. 487; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1923–4, p. 1596.