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James Matthews


1819 - 1898

Architect. Born in Aberdeen, the son of a bank teller, Matthews maternal grandfather had built the Union Bridge. He was educated at Robert Gordon's Hospital and undertook his architectural training with Archibald Simpson, supervised by Thomas Mackenzie (1814-54).

Between 1839 and 1844, he went to work in London with George Gilbert Scott (1811-78). Following his return to Aberdeen, Matthews formed a partnership with Mackenzie. Mackenzie did much of the design work in Elgin while Matthews managed their office in Aberdeen. Together with were responsible for Drummuir Castle (1845), Poorhouses in Aberdeen and Ellon (1847 and 1849 respectively), Ballindalloch Castle (1847), St. John's Episcopal Church (1850) and Aldourie Castle (1853), together with various churches, schools and banks and work on Cawdor Castle (1854).

Matthews continued the practice after Mackenzie died in 1854, but took his famous son, A. Marshall Mackenzie (1847 - 1933), into partnership in 1877. Other notable works included an extension to The Music Hall (Aberdeen; 1858), a new wing for Arnage Castle (1860), Banff County Buildings and Sheriff Courthouse (1868), Ardoe House (1877), Stonehaven Town Hall (1877), together with courthouses in Kingussie (1864), Portree (1865), Grantown on Spey (1867), Fort William (1872) and Lochmaddy (1875), and numerous schools, churches and private houses.

Matthews also served as a Town Councillor in Aberdeen between 1863 and 1871. He was invited to serve as Lord Provost (1883-86), with the implementation of the City Improvement Act of 1883 becoming his lasting achievement. He also served as a Director and Chairman of the North of Scotland Bank.

Matthews retired as an architect in 1893. He was awarded an honorary degree from the University of Aberdeen. He died at his home in Albyn Terrace and lies buried in St. Nicholas' kirkyard. Matthews has a quay named after him in Aberdeen Harbour.


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