John Forbes

Pavior and plasterer

John Forbes was a plasterer from Culloden, in Inverness-shire, who had settled in Glasgow by 1871. 1 By 1881, he was employing three men and one boy, and living with his wife in Pollokshields, in a recently-built grid of superior working-class tenement streets. 2

Moulded plaster cornices and ceiling roses were found even in modest homes, including formal 'front rooms' in small flats, where such pre-cast enrichments could be applied in sections. 3 Forbes also advertised as a 'modeller', although he does not specify if this was to make moulds for casting architectural decorations in plaster, or something more artistic. By 1898, he had expanded into the laying of new floor surfaces, such as Granolithic. Invented by a Scot who added granite chippings to cement, 4 this very durable surface was suitable for heavy loads, and was used in industrial buildings and public corridors.

As Forbes had no children to consider, he and his wife seem to have moved fairly frequently around central Glasgow, although his office stayed at 158A Bath Street from the early 1890s. Around 1903, he moved to Station Road, Garelochead, about 30 miles N. of Glasgow, where the nearby railway station made commuting possible. By 1910, he had named his lochside home 'Cecilia Bank', after his wife. 5 His firm is still listed in the 1926 telephone directory, although Forbes himself was in his mid-70s by this time, and may no longer have been active. 6


1: Census 1871, [accessed 12 May 2012].

2: Census 1881, [accessed 12 May 2012].

3: Gordon Urquhart and L. S. Grandison, 'Decorative Plasterwork', West End Conservation Manual, Glasgow: Glasgow Conservation Trust West, 1999, Section 11, pp. 1, 12–14.

4: Glasgow Post Office Directories, 1897–8 and 1898–9.

5: Glasgow Post Office directories, 1902–10.

6: Telephone Directory vol. 5, Scotland, February 1926, Section 28, p. 74, [accessed 12 May 2012].