Tuesday, 3 July 2012

Alexander (Greek) Thomson House

One of the great things about this job is that you get to see houses that might go un-noticed because of their out-of-the way nature of their location, or non-descript face.

Such was a house I was called to to look at storm damage to the stair window.  As I finally negotiated my way down a lane and missing the entry causing me to go on to a railway station that I did not know existed, I finally went across the cattle grid to be presented with this.

Yes, as I was to learn, this is a Greek Thomson house, possibly his first outside Glasgow.  This is an architect of such importance that there is a society established to study his works.  This grand house is impressive in its size as well as in the amount of light he allowed into the building.  No other architect at the time was filling the wall with so many windows.

The front door is as impressive as the rest of the house.  And probably the scale was meant to impress visitors with the wealth of the owner.  The front doors are twice the height of the average person.

The back of the house is no less impressive than the front.  The house is marred by the modern extension at the left, but still is a handsome house.  Note the number of windows all of which face over the River Clyde to the south.

This gives an impression of part of the view just from the garden.

The view from the first floor must allow views over to the Mull of Kintyre and the Isle of Aran.

But now I have to get to work.  This is the external view of the area of storm damage.

Fortunately the leaded glass had been covered with protective glazing some years ago.  This meant that the falling slates and guttering extensively damaged the external glazing, but not much of the leaded glass.

As I was welcomed into the house, I noted the generous cloak rooms with the fine cornices at the upper level of the walls.

This kind of elegant decoration continues into the modern down stairs lounge -  which would have been the dining room originally.

As we went round the stairs to the kitchen, there were a pair of windows under the stair:

And just to the left of them the door into the kitchen:

You can see from these pictures that coloured glass was not an important element in Thomson's architectural decoration.  What there is is simple and elegant, relying on varied textures in the glass for interest.

Now, really, I must get to work.  The falling roofing materials had broken the protective glazing extensively, and in some places had come through to the leaded glass.

My job was to get up to these breaks, which were about 4 metres above the landing, and repair them.  Fortunately, the client has a friend who runs a scaffolding firm.  The scaffolding was put in place for me to get up to the glass.  It was difficult as much of the broken glass was pieces next to each other and the lead had been  twisted by the impact.  The obvious pieces are at the right centre of the picture, but there were others broken under the glazing bars.

Fortunately the broken original glass has modern imitators that are a very good match, so I was able to fit the glass and leave it appearing to be original.

I have been to this town many times, but would never have seen the outside of the house, let alone its inside.  The owner of the house is proud of it and happily pointed out lots of things to me, but of course does not want a string of visitors.  So, my job is a good job for someone - like me - who is interested in domestic architecture

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