Glasgow - City of Sculpture
By Gary Nisbet
William Stark

Details about Stark's (or Starke's) early life and architectural training are scant but most authorities agree that he was born in Dunfermline, Fife. However, his importance to the development of the Classical revival in Scotland is without doubt.

His earliest recorded works were all in Glasgow and include the Classical, domed Hunterian Museum, Old College (1804, dem. c. 1900s), which, when its demolition was being considered in the late 19th Century, the sculptor John Mossman suggested should be moved to Queen's Park as a shelter.

In 1807, he designed St George's Tron Church, Buchanan Street (itself the subject of demolition threats throughout its history), the tall obelisks of which were substituted as an alternative to the statues of the four Evangelists which were originally proposed.

Two years later he won a limited competition for Glasgow's Justiciary Court and Public Buildings, Jocelyn Square, for which he designed the first 'pure' Doric portico in Scotland. This was retained when the building was completely rebuilt, 1910-13, by J H Craigie , but lost its tympanum group of the Arms of Glasgow and Scotland which were removed due to their poor condition (Stark's original interiors were stripped during earlier refittings in the 1840s and 50s).

His other important Glasgow work was the Lunatic Asylum, 32 Parliamentary Road (1809, dem. 1910), which was influential in the development of hospital design and was the first hospital in Britain to be laid out on a saltire plan with its wings radiating from a central block. The building was later converted to the City Poorhouse by Clarke & Bell .

Elsewhere, he designed Saline Church, Fife (1810); the interiors of the Lower Signet Library, Edinburgh (1812); Muirkirk Old Church, Ayrshire (1812), and restored Dunfermline Abbey, rebuilding its South West tower.

Stark later visited St Petersburgh, Russia.


Works in our Database:
1: Saltmarket (City Centre),
High Court of the Judiciary
Hand-carved Inscription Frieze (1997, Frieze; 1809-14, Building)
Sculptor: G Breeze; Architect: W Stark;
Commissioned by Scottish Court Service through Art in Partnership
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