Photographs and text Jacqueline Banerjee. [You may use these images without prior permission for any scholarly or educational purpose as long as you (1) credit the photographer and (2) link your document to this URL in a web document or cite the Victorian Web in a print one.]

University of Glasgow. South front, seen above Kelvingrove Park. Sir George Gilbert Scott, with the Bute and Randolph Halls completed after his death by John Oldrid Scott and Edwin Morgan, 1866-86, and the tower and spire added by John Oldrid Scott, 1887-1891. Local stone with Kenmure freestone dressings, and some columns of red sandstone and pink granite. Gilmorehill, Glasgow.

Left: North front with the Main Building and entrance to the Visitor Centre. Right: Main entrance, University of Glasgow . [Click on images to enlarge them.]

The University of Glasgow is a mid-fifteenth-century establishment, the second oldest university in Scotland after St Andrews. The '"new" building undertaken in the nineteenth century was controversial, because the commission went straight to Scott: the leading Glasgow neo-classicist, Alexander "Greek" Thomson, considered the Gothic Revival style to be incompatible with other important city buildings (see McKenzie 392), and thought the London-based architect would be too busy with his other work to give it the attention it required. However, Scott introduced "bartizans and a Scottish flavour to his Gothic" (Curl 68), and found time to produce a very striking design: "The compelling impression is of great size with plenty of Gothic detail, dominated by the mighty central tower and fanciful open spire" (Williamson et al. 338). This ranks with the Midland Grand Hotel at St Pancras as one of Scott's masterpieces, and in terms of the Gothic Revival is not far behind the Houses of Parliament in its importance. When it was being built, it was, in fact, the next largest project under way in the whole country (see "University of Glasgow, Old and New").

Main Gate seen from Hillhead Street.

On the north front facing University Avenue there are two entrances at either end of Sir John J. Burnett's McIntyre building (1886-1908, reconstructed 1931) in "English Collegiate Gothic" (Williamson et al. 341). To the east are the Memorial Gates of 1952 honouring twenty-nine famous people associated with the university, including Joseph Lister (for Lister's name, see here); to the west is the Main Gate by Burnett (1908), giving on to the west part of the building, originally the Library Hall. The Hunter Memorial in the centre commemorates the great pioneers of obstetrics and general surgery, William and John Hunter.

Related Material


Curl, James Stevens. Victorian Artchitecture. Newton Abbot: David & Charles, 1990.

University of Glasgow, Old and New (Glasgow University Library: Special Collections Department: Book of the Month, July 2008). Viewed 13 November 2009.

McKenzie, Ray, with contributions by Gary Nisbet. Public Sculpture of Glasgow. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2002.

Williamson, Elizabeth, et al. Glasgow. The Buildings of Scotland series. London: Penguin, 1990.

Created 13 November 2009

Link added 12 May 2019