I did my part of the ‘if-Mackintosh-then-Thomson’ bargain, and enjoyed it. But the publisher didn’t reciprocate. Happily, the energies of Gavin Stamp arrived in Glasgow, and Thomson found well-deserved spotlights.
My graduate thesis (1970) had been the first study (as far as I am aware) of this major 19th Century architect’s intentions and work. (McFadzean’s PhD on Thomson was later completed and then soon published). Early in the 1980s my renewed work on Thomson grew from invitations to lecture in Glasgow at the Architectural Association in London, and resulted in various texts. Here is one essay about his relation to the city, and here I list my other writing about him.
My initial writing on Glasgow was in angry response to the massive-scale redevelopment which destroyed so much of the city during my student days. In 1972 I founded MOTORWAY MOVEMENT with my brother Charles, as a locally-based protest movement against the construction of more central urban motorway in Glasgow, and the unbalanced concern for private motorists at the expense not only of the Glaswegian environment but also of the vast majority of their fellow citizens. It raised much local, national and international support; 6000 signatures of protest were quickly assembled, packed local meetings were held, etc. The motorway was stopped.
I wrote on the subject in all the technical press, The Times, Private Eye, local papers and amenity society magazines. In 1973, I discussed Glasgow’s motorways in a Radio 4 programme on community action and later took part in a two-sided 30-minute debate on the question of inner city motorways on Scottish Television (STV).
The other participant, a pro-road professor of civil engineering, took over from Sir Colin Buchanan who withdrew at the last minute.
Later my writing on Glasgow widened and deepened, centering on a long study, ‘Lights and Shadows’, written in response to a request for an essay on the city’s ‘personality.’”
Thomson and Glasgow John McKean bibliography