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Public Statues and Sculpture Association

William McMillan (1887–1977)

Born in Aberdeen, he trained first at Gray’s School of Art there, before going on to the Royal Academy. His career was interrupted by military service during the First World War, and his experience in the trenches is said to have marked him for life. His first Royal Academy exhibits from 1917 were of military subjects, and McMillan sculpted First World War memorials for Manchester and Aberdeen. In the later 1920s he carved much decorative garden sculpture, and experimented with unusual stones, such as green slate and verde di Prato. In 1931, his three-quarter-length figure of Venus was purchased for the Tate Gallery from the Royal Academy. His public portrait statues include Earl Haig (1932) for Clifton College, Bristol; George V (1938) for Calcutta; George VI (1955) for Carlton Gardens, London; and Lord Trenchard (1961) for Embankment Gardens, London. McMillan was a designer of medals, including the Great War Medal and the Victory Medal. Immediately before the outbreak of the Second World War, he was commissioned to produce the Beatty Memorial Fountain for Trafalgar Square in collaboration with Sir Edwin Lutyens. This was a pendant to the Jellicoe Fountain, sculpted by Charles Wheeler. After the war, McMillan once again worked alongside Wheeler on Sir Edward Maufe’s extensions to the Royal Navy Memorials at ChathamPlymouth and Portsmouth. In 1954, he executed the memorial to the pilots Alcock and Brown for London Airport. From 1942 onwards, he exhibited drawings and watercolours at the Royal Academy. He was elected ARA in 1925 and full RA in 1933.

Bibliography (updated 2023): T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of Kensington and Chelsea with Westminster South-West, Watford, 2023, pp. 250–51; T. Cavanagh, Public Sculpture of South London, Liverpool, 2007, pp. 403–04; F. Lloyd et al, Public Sculpture of Outer South and West London, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 82–83; D. Merritt and F. Greenacre, with K. Eustace, Public Sculpture of Bristol, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 86–87; Times, 28 September 1977, p. 16 (obit.); N. Usherwood, ‘McMillan, William (1887–1977)’, ODNB (2004), 2010; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of the City of London, Liverpool, 2003, pp. 86–87; P. Ward-Jackson, Public Sculpture of Historic Westminster. Volume 1, Liverpool, 2011, pp. 141–43, 293, 300–04, 363–65, 420, 421, 424, 428; T. Wyke, Public Sculpture of Greater Manchester, Liverpool, 2004, pp. 144–45.

Philip Ward-Jackson 2011