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McKINLAY, Alfred Arthur Ritchie

Born: 1894 11 25
Died: 1961 07 25

Architect


Year registered: 1927

Also referred to as RITCHIE-McKINLAY, Alfred Arthur.

McKINLAY's father, J Ritchie McKinlay, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, and came to South Africa as a young man, establishing himself as a builder and contractor in Natal in 1888. He married in Pietermaritzburg in 1893 and died there in 1911 aged 42. His will directed that his son, Alfred Arthur (who may have been born in Natal) 'shall complete his articles of apprenticeship with ING & ANDERSON and on completion ... shall be employed in my business in such a capacity as my trustees shall direct and receive a salary ... my business to be shared and continued by my two boys' (NAD MSCE 43/115). There is no reason to doubt that Alfred Arthur did complete his articles with ING & ANDERSON although no account of his career mentions this. According to Hillebrand (1986:473-4), McKINLAY was articled to Sir Mervyn MacCartney, Surveyor to the Fabric of St Paul's, London, and studied in Rome, Athens and Constantinople, practising in South Africa from 1918. It is possible that having completed articles with ING & ANDERSON, McKINLAY went to London, working and studying there before returning to South Africa in 1918, the date of his first recorded work in South Africa. In his professional life he was first recorded coming second in the competition for Benoni Town Hall with FE PARKER in 1918 (cf PARKER & McKINLAY), of Benoni and Durban respectively. It is not yet certain where they met although Parker seems to have been employed by the Public Works Department in Pretoria before 1918. McKINLAY was next recorded present at a meeting of the Natal Institute of Architects in December 1919 and in 1920 was 'entrusted with the layout and plans for poorer classes of the community, including Asiatics, for the Durban housing scheme' (AB&E Dec 1920:17). McKINLAY was critical of the profession in South Africa: 'for many years ... the real stumbling block has been the dilletante view of the profession at Home, where there is a wide spread wish to regard architecture as an art rather than a science' (AB&E Dec 1925, Pirate architecture:16-17.) In 1925 McKINLAY joined Fred HUTCHINSON, formerly of the architectural staff of the town engineer's department of the Johannesburg municipality, the two entered into partnership in Pietermaritzburg (cf McKINLAY & HUTCHINSON). This partnership lasted until 1927 when HUTCHINSON returned to the Transvaal to work in Germiston. By 1928 McKINLAY was working in Pietermaritzburg, but was not listed here after this date. He returned to Durban where he built up a considerable practice. His strongest period, from the point of view of his expression of a coherent modern style, was from about 1928 until 1939. The Theo Schloss building (1928-1930), an example of this period, was described at the time as 'reminiscent of London's newest building, the underground railway offices' (SAAR Dec 1930:127 ill). His design for Nunnerley & Co's offices and warehouse (1926) invites comparison with Jones & McWilliams's earlier (1923) Richardson Building in Port Elizabeth (dem). The theatrical Italianate style of McKINLAY 's building anticipates his involvement with stylish Art Deco later, a role elaborated in an article (Plan, no. 10, 1975:12-13) describing McKINLAY as the greatest exponent of Art Deco in Durban. For some as yet unestablished reason McKINLAY left Durban in about 1935 to work in Johannesburg. He was listed working first from 67 Sauer's Buildings and then at Magor House, Fox St (1937-38). FLH FLEMING also had offices in Magor House at the time but there is no record that McKINLAY was working in FLEMING's office. At some stage, probably around 1940 he moved to Cape Town and his last recorded address was at 6 Church Sq, Cape Town in 1940. He married May Connie Shields (b. England 1897, d. Durban 1979); there were no children.

AB&E Dec 1920:17; AB&E Dec 1925:16-17; Braby's N dir 1928; Building Jun 1919:276; NAD MSCE 43/115 NAD (father); DE 5109/79 (Master of Supreme Court, PMB (wife); ISAA mem list; ISAA Ybks 1935-40; Kearney 1971-75; NWW 1906:127 (father); Plan no 10 1975:12-13; SAAR Dec 1930:127

See also Dictionary of Scottish Architects.

All truncated references not fully cited in 'References' are those of Joanna Walker's original text and cited in full in the 'Bibliography' entry of the Lexicon.