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Alexander Smellie was born in Girvan, Ayrshire, in 1889 to Margaret Allan and Alexander Smellie, a successful grocer who became a justice of the peace, town councillor, and provost of his local district. Alexander attended evening classes in architecture at The Glasgow School of Art from 1905 until 1910, while undertaking an apprenticeship with Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh. After completion of his training in 1911 he became a draughtsman for John B. Wilson & Son of Glasgow. He became an associate member from 1911-12. On the outbreak of the First World War, Smellie voluntarily enlisted with the Army Service Corps, a body of the British Army responsible for logistics such as transport, administration, staffing, and supply of equipment and materials. He was not mobilised until June 1915, when he was drafted to Egypt and Palestine during the British Army's Sinai and Palestine Campaign. He was discharged in May 1919 with a partial hearing impairment after being involved in a train crash. Returning to Scotland, he was employed as a draughtsman with the Scottish Co-operative Wholesale Society's in-house design, construction and maintenance department. In 1920 he returned to Keppie & Henderson, concentrating on industrial projects including the design of several bakeries. After his father's death in 1927 he invested his inheritance in Keppie & Henderson and was made a partner in 1930. He was elected as a licentiate of the Royal Institute of British Architects (LRIBA) in the same year, and elected fellow (FRIBA) in 1935. He remained at Keppie, Henderson & Partners until his retirement in 1969. He died on 23rd March 1971. He is listed on The Glasgow School of Art's First World War Roll of Honour as well as on the Glasgow Institute of Architects Roll of Honour (Associate).
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