Born in 1830 in Bothwell, James was a founding member of the Blantyre building firm Aitkenhead Builders. His wife, Annie Cant, a year his senior and a relative of the famous wealthy Carnegie family, was born in Limekilns, Dunfermline. The couple married in Glasgow in 1855 and there were 10 children born of the marriage. Two sons and two daughters stayed in Blantyre though the other children had left for America. Three sons and three daughters were still alive in 1905.
Around 1857, the building firm of James and Robert Aitkenhead was formed though due to the sheer size of this family, the business split in 1881, with one brother heading to Greenock whilst James remained in Blantyre trading as James Aitkenhead & Sons. This building firm practically built Blantyre in the 1860s – 1900s. His son in law, John Sneddon also owned buildings in High Blantyre.
James and Annie celebrated their Golden Wedding Anniversary on 5th December 1905 within Mr. J.B Struthers Masonic Hall in High Blantyre and they were presented with a purse of soverigns. A photo of that evening is attached.
When James died, he left several houses at the top of Broompark Road in the hands of nearby local slater and plasterer, trustee Robert Stewart. There is much more to the story of Aitkenhead Builders, not only in the time James was alive, but in the legacy the building firm continued to have throughout the 20th Century.