Arlington architect: Alexander David Hislop

Alexander David Hislop was a prominent member of the Arlington Baths Club and the architect who created the space that contains the lower showers and family changing facilities.

Born in 1876 in Stonefield near Blantyre, Alexander David Hislop was a member of the club (membership number M174). He was heavily involved in the club, being on the Joint Operating Committee in 1924-5 and Chairman between 1941-44.

He was responsible for creating the space that is now the lower showers, family changing and massage room.

The Hislop family and the Argyll Arcade

Alexander Hislop was the son of David Watson Hislop, a watchmaker and jeweller, and Margaret Marshall. He was the second youngest of four siblings: Maggie, Agnes, Alexander and Charles, who was the youngest.

His father had a shop with his brother in-law Alexander Marshall at 3 Argyll Arcade from 1866. From 1887 his mother and sister had their own counter  in the arcade as ‘fancy goods saleswomen’.

His father’s shop was robbed of £200 worth of diamond rings on 5 October 1893 by Thomas Patrick Healy. Mr Hislop gave chase and with the help of the police apprehended Healy and recovered all but 3 of the 9 rings. Healy was sentenced to three years penal servitude.

The Hislops lived in Stonefield from 1873 to 1881;  Monymusk in Rutherglen between 1887 and 1889; 142 Holland Street  1889-1903; ands St James Place in the West End from 1903-1914.

Hislop’s architectural career

Alexander was apprenticed to William James Anderson and Alexander Nisbet Paterson who had rooms next door to each other at 95 Bath Street. Hislop was shared between the two architects and in the 1890s he studied under Anderson at the Glasgow School of Art. He won a Studio magazine prize, and national prizes for furniture design in 1896 and 1897 respectively.

Phoenix Assurance Building Glasgow
The Phoenix Assurance Building

He became an assistant to John Archibald Campbell in around 1900. In 1877 Campbell had been articled to our original architect John Burnet Snr. He studied at the Ecole des Beau Arts with Burnet’s son, John James Burnet, and became a partner in John Burnet, Son & Campbell.

Hislop became Campbell’s chief assistant, and was then made a full partner from 1908 when Campbell’s health was beginning to decline. Campbell died in 1909 and Hislop went on to inherit the practice at  124 St Vincent Street. 

He pioneered the use of the giant orders at the lower floors of the office buildings of the Phoenix Assurance Building (1912-13) on St Vincent St / West Nile Street, Glasgow, where the columns rise through more than one story of a building.

Hislop was in the Royal Engineers in the First World War achieving the rank of temporary Second Lieutenant. He was awarded the Military Cross in the 1918 New Year Honours.

Adaptations at the Arlington Baths

The plans of Alexander Hislop are held in the Alexander Hislop collection at Glasgow University Special Collections.

His work on the Arlington covers 28 sheets covering a period from 1940 to the 1950s. He was responsible for what is now the lower showers, family changing and massage room. These spaces are essentially projections into the row of cottages behind the original Baths’ building.

AD Hislop plans for lower showers
Detail of the needle showers, reproduced by permission of the University of Glasgow Library,  Special Collections (MS Hislop 82-5)

The lower showers were originally split in two, one half cold (nearest the Turkish Suite) and one half hot. There were four needle showers in the hot half, which were installed in 1940. Needle showers, also known as cage or ribcage showers, are circular; you stand inside the frame and the water sprays out sideways from several horizontal pipes.

What is now the family changing area was originally a gents changing area. The upstairs massage room was a ladies changing room which incorporated a ‘borrowed light’ technique to allow daylight through from the pitched roof above.

details of 1940 improvements to showers and changing rooms
AD Hislop drawings for the improved spray rooms and changing rooms (1940). Reproduced by permission of the University of Glasgow Library,  Special Collections (MS Hislop 82-22)

The collection of drawings also includes plans for: closing up the arch; repositioning the senior baths; and extensive boiler work and changes to the laundry and drying rooms under the original building. These changes all occurred after World War Two.

Other work by Hislop’s practice include:

  • Rosneath Parish Church, Dunbartonshire
  • Carrongrove Housing in Denny, near Falkirk
  • Partick High United Free Church

In 1941 Hislop made alterations to the Elgin Place Church built by John Burnet, who constructed the original Arlington building.

Alexander David Hislop died 23 February 1966.

Researcher: Will Jess


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