R. A. McGilvray


Robert Alexander McGilvray (1849–1914) was a plasterer, modeller and sculptor, who in 1878 acquired the plastering firm of James Steel Junior, originally founded in 1869. From 1882 onwards, his firm was based at 129 West Regent Street. In 1888, he was included in Industries of Glasgow, published to coincide with the International Exhibition taking place in the city that year. The article stated that he employed on 'average about eighty hands' and included a list of important public buildings and private houses and mansions where his firm had carried out plastering work. These included the council room, reception rooms and 'saloons' of the Glasgow City Chambers, only recently completed; the Clyde Navigation Trust building; Glasgow High School in Elmbank Street; Glasgow Western Infirmary; Maryhill Burgh Halls; Renfrew Town Hall; several banks in Glasgow city centre; William Beattie's bakery; and Wellington United Presbyterian Church, where he was a member of the congregation.

From 1886, McGilvray was associated with sculptor and modeller Richard Ferris (1860–1915), whose student work at the Glasgow School of Art had attracted his attention. Ferris appeared in the Glasgow Post Office Directory from 1888 onwards, also working from 129 West Regent Street. The two men appear to have collaborated for a number of years before appearing as R. A. McGilvray & Ferris in the directories for the first time in 1905, while also continuing to advertise individually. By 1909–10, McGilvray seems to have retired, as only his home address is included in the directory. After his death, George Rome & Co. purchased the business at 129 West Regent Street. 1

In public life, McGilvray served as Deacon of the Incorporation of Masons at Glasgow Trades' House, and as a liner for the Dean of Guild Court. He was also an active Freemason and served as master of St John's Lodge No. 3 bis for several years. According to an obituary, 'charitable and philanthropic work also found in him a generous and zealous helper'. He was survived by his wife, Christina Lothian, whom he married in 1896. 2


1: Edinburgh Gazette, 1 January 1915, p. 17.

2: Industries of Glasgow, 1888, p. 181; 'Death of Mr R. A. McGilvray', Glasgow Herald, 2 October 1914, p. 4; census and marriage records, www.scotlandspeople.gov.uk [accessed 26 March 2013]; Ray McKenzie, Public Sculpture of Glasgow, Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2002, p. 483; Glasgow City of Sculpture, www.glasgowsculpture.com [accessed 26 March 2013]; Glasgow Post Office Directory, 1888–9, p. 253; 1905–6, pp. 285, 462; 1909–10, pp. 245, 424.