Driver Alexander Smellie, Army Service Corps, born in 1889 at Girvan, Ayrshire, was the younger son of Alexander Smellie, a Wine, Spirit and Provision Merchant, and Margaret Smellie (nee Allan), of 59 Montgomery Street, Girvan. Alexander Senior was originally from a grocer's family in Wishaw, but had built up his own prosperous licensed grocery and property-letting business in Girvan, where he was a JP, town councillor, and Provost of the burgh from 1912 until 1921.


His sibling was John Allan.

 

In 1891, Alexander Senior had as a trainee grocer a member of the Young family of Glasgow sculptors. The connections between the Smellie and Young families were long-lasting and reciprocal. In 1885, Alexander's sister Agnes had married stone-carver John Young (1858–after 1927), nephew of James Charles Young (1839–1923) and first cousin of better-known James Augustine Young (1871–1934). Their eponymous company, latterly James Young of 197 Dumbarton Road, Partick, 'succeed[ed] the Mossmans' as Glasgow's principal monumental sculptors. Their work included the carvings on Mackintosh's Glasgow Herald Building (1891). Alexander Smellie Junior may have been introduced to the building profession through his uncle's trade or personal contacts, as it seems from their home addresses and other records, that stone carver John Young worked for relatives, James C. and James A. Young.


Alexander attended the Glasgow School of Art from 1905 until 1910. He was apprenticed to Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh in 1906, and first paid by them that December.


Honeyman and Keppie were a major architects firm based in Glasgow, created by John Honeyman and John Keppie in 1888 following the death of James Sellars in whose architectural practice Keppie had worked. Their most famous employee was Charles Rennie MacKintosh who started as a draughtsman in April 1889 and rose to partner level. The creation of the new Honeyman, Keppie and MacKintosh spelt the next phase in the evolution of the practice which as Honeyman and Keppie existed from 1888 to 1901. Whilst often viewed independently, Mackintosh did much of his most famous work while employed in the firm.


He did not become a qualified architect, but specialised in structural engineering, and gained a licentiateship with the Royal Institute of British Architects in 1930. After completing his training around 1911, Alexander went to work for the practice of John B. Wilson & Son, Glasgow, as an architectural draughtsman. Wilson, a former pupil of John Honeyman, specialised in church buildings, and was the president of the Glasgow Institute of Architects. Alexander became an associate member during Wilson's term of office.


On 31 August 1914, Alexander enlisted at Maryhill Barracks with a territorial unit of the Army Service Corps. He remained in the UK, from that date until 7 June 1915, probably still working in Glasgow. In order to Join the Mediterranean Expeditionary Force, he sailed on HM Transport Manitou to Port Said and on 13 October 1915 embarked on HM Transport Japanese Prince, arriving at Salonica on 19 October 1915. On 19 September 1917, he returned to Alexandria and spent the war in Egypt, Jerusalem and at Kantara, returning to the UK for demobilisation on 15 May 1919.  


On his discharge, Alexander became a draughtsman for the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society's in-house buildings design, construction and maintenance department. He returned to the renamed practice of Keppie & Henderson in 1920.


Following the death of his father in 1927, Alexander inherited the then substantial sum of £46,105. This inheritance seems to have led to Alexander investing in Keppie & Henderson in 1930 and being made partner. His daughter, Margaret, later became an office manager with the practice. Alexander became a Licentiate of the RIBA in 1930.


Alexander was elected a Fellow of the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland in 1935, and when Keppie retired on 30 June 1937, he and Andrew Graham Henderson continued the firm, retaining the previous practice style of 'John Keppie & Henderson'. Alexander looked after the practice during the Second World War, when Graham Henderson was on full-time active service. The partnership was resumed in 1945, with Alexander retiring in 1969. He died on 23 March 1971.


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/


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