Sapper James Black Fulton, Royal Engineers, born on 11 August 1875 at Fenwick, Ayrshire, was the second son of Robert Fulton, a Journeyman Shoemaker, and Janet Fulton (nee Black), of Bearsden Reformatory Lodge, Dunbartonshire.


His siblings were Matthew, Robert and Jane.


He was related to John Fulton (1803–1853), a well known scientific instrument maker and orrery builder (an orrery is a mechanical model of the solar system).


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.


In 1890, James was 'articled with W. F. McGibbon Esq., FRIBA, Glasgow, 5 years'. 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 irresistiable 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. In 1892 and 1893, he received free studentships, achieved 1st or 2nd class in local architectural examinations, and was Queen's Prizeman in the National Competition for architectural design.


He 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. James 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. 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'. 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'.


After leaving John Honeyman & Keppie around October 1897, James 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. He 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.


Setting up in independent practice in London in 1903, he also taught at London County Council's School of Building at Brixton for twelve years.


In 1907, he married Jessie Bisset Valentine, they had a son, Robert Norman, and lived at Wandsworth in London.


Enlisting on 30 November 1916 but, although educated professionals normally became officers, he refused to apply for a commission and remained a Sapper in the Royal Engineers. He was discharged on 30 August 1917 because of valvular heart disease and awarded a pension of £1.2s. a week.


A much-admired teacher, he became Director of Studies at Glasgow School of Architecture in September 1920. His brother-in-law, N. W. Harrison, nominated him for Fellowship of the RIBA in 1921. His health continued to deteriorate and he was classed '100%' disabled in July 1921. He died in Bellhouston Hospital, Glasgow on 11 April 1922 after a long illness, which may have been related to mustard gassing during the war.


From original research by Morag Cross, commissioned by Glasgow City Council (GCC) for their First World War Centenary Commemorative website 'Their names will be remembered for evermore' at

http://www.firstworldwarglasgow.co.uk/

Perspective of a Royal Mausoleum drawn by James Black Fulton.

 Sapper James Black Fulton

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