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Book of the Month

July 2008

University of Glasgow
Old and New

 Illustrated with views and portraits in photogravure

Glasgow: T. & R. Annan & Sons, James MacLehose & Sons, 1891
Sp Coll RX 152

For the Book of the Month for July we feature a book printed in 1891 entitled University of Glasgow Old and New. Revised from an earlier edition, this memorial volume was printed by James MacLehose & Sons, and includes photographs in photogravure by T.& R Annan & Sons.

University of Glasgow Old and New is a commemorative book that celebrates the University's history, from its foundation by Bishop Turnbull in 1451 to 1891, 20 years after the University moved to the Gilmorehill campus. This year is also significant as two years previous to this, in 1889, the Universities (Scotland) Act was passed, which introduced changes to the internal structure of the University, and represented a 'new departure' for the University.


As well as a brief history of the University over this time, the volume also contains images of the Old College campus on the High Street, alongside images of the then new Gilmorehill campus. The volume also contains portraits of all senior academic staff at the time, as well as departmental records dating from the beginning of the University's records, until the time of publication, in 1891.


Pictured right is 'The Exodus from the Old College' which shows the Professors and other University staff leaving the Old College, down the Lion and Unicorn staircase.


No. 18 The Exodus from the Old College

No. 3 Old College from High Street


Glasgow University is the second oldest University in Scotland - second to St. Andrews - and was inaugurated in 1451 at the request of William Turnbull, Bishop of Glasgow. On his instigation, King James II applied to Pope Nicholas V who issued a Papal Bull, and in doing so gave Glasgow the opportunity to create a 'Studium Generale' which would possess all of the powers of a University.

Initially lectures were held in the Chapter House of Glasgow Cathedral, until 1457 when building started on the High Street. It was in 1460 that James Lord Hamilton donated to the Faculty of Arts an area of land on the east side on the High Street, and in 1560 a further endowment of money and land was given by Mary Queen of Scots. The University remained at this site until the 17th century, when new building works began in the area directly behind the High Street, and eventually grew to replace the original building on the High Street. The resulting building -  the Old College we see pictured - ran along the busy High Street, with a main gateway in its centre that led through to two courtyards.

The Old College has been called " One of the finest, and certainly (the) most extensive specimen of Scottish civil architecture of the seventeenth century" by the 19th century Scottish architects MacGibbon & Ross.

Pictured right is the Lion and Unicorn staircase, which was moved brick by brick to the University's new campus at Gilmorehill, and now leads into the west wing of the Main building, beside the University Chapel. Other parts of old college buildings were combined to create Pearce Lodge, which is situated at the bottom of University Avenue.

No. 4 The Outer Court with the great stair leading to the Fore Hall

No. 12 Professor's Court looking West

Pictured left is the Professor's court, one of the inner courtyards of the Old College. The earliest of these buildings were erected in 1722, and they were added to as professor numbers increased. This development was just one element of the ongoing expansion of the Old College, and it was felt that the University would do better to move to larger grounds. This combined with the ongoing industrialisation of the High Street and its surrounding area, spurred the move to the larger Gilmorehill campus in 1870.

The site of the Old College campus was sold in 1863 for £100,000 to the City of Glasgow Union Railway Company, who intended to use the site as a goods yard. The decision to demolish the site has been seen as an act of cultural vandalism, and it has been suggested that those in control of the move had questionable motives. However, the University itself did not have the funds required to renovate the Old College, and the buildings were struggling with increasing student numbers. The only way for the University to gain funds was to sell the land they were on, and move to a cheaper site. It was decided to move the University to the more fashionable, less busy, and less dirty, West End of Glasgow.

The choice of the site on Gilmorehill for the new campus was made due to its situation on the outskirts of the city. At this point Gilmorehill was a Greenfield site, and so offered the potential for further expansion and development. Work started on the new site in 1866. It was not until November 1870, however, that the University was to take up residence at the site.

At the time of its development, it was the second largest structure being built in the United Kingdom (the largest being the Houses of Parliament). The building was designed in the Gothic revival style by the architect George Gilbert Scott. It was finished by his son Oldrid Scott, who added the finishing touches to the tower, and completed the Bute Hall, and it has since been developed by a number of other architects.


No. 19 University Buildings from West End Park

The new building dwarfed the Old College campus, which could have fitted into one of the quadrangles. Despite its huge size it was lacking in some facilities, so the building was continually developed and added to, thanks initially to donations from Charles Randolph, a local engineer and shipbuilder, and the Marquis of Bute. This allowed Oldrid Scott to complete the Bute Hall.

It was also felt that a student union building was needed, and so again thanks to a donation of funds - this time by John McIntyre - in 1887 the architect John J. Burnet completed the building we now call the McIntyre Building.


Shown here are the plans that represented the Gilmorehill Campus in 1891. It should be noted that at this time the West quadrangle was open to the professor's court as the University Chapel had not yet been built.


The image below is taken from the Professor's court, and shows where the chapel would stand today.


Block Plan of the New Buildings
(click on image to view a larger version)

No. 27 West Quadrangle looking South East

At it's time of initial creation, Gothic revival had become fashionable as a style for public buildings. In the 1860s Gilbert Scott produced four major buildings: St Pancras Station, the Law Courts, the Albert Institute at Dundee, and Berlin Parliament House, as well as Glasgow University, in this style. The Main Building of the University is now called the Gilbert Scott building in honour of the accomplished architect.

The task of designing the new University had been given to another architect to begin with, Glaswegian architect John Baird. He came up with three possible layouts for the building; however, finances for these projects fell through. His designs were sent to George Scott when he was chosen as chief architect, and similarities can be drawn between the resulting University building and Baird's plans, which both feature an open quadrangle, and a twin quadrangle and clock tower arrangement.

The decision by the University Senate not to accept designs for the University from any Glasgow architect resulted in some resentment. The tendency of architectural style in Glasgow at the time was toward a Greek style, and there were many talented architects in the city with the ability and experience necessary to tackle the task of designing the University. To select the English architect George Gilbert Scott, whose works were in the Gothic revival style, was an unpopular decision amongst Glasgow's architectural community.

The work on the University took place in the busiest period of Scott's career, and it was claimed that he did not give the project the attention that it was due.

".granting that Mr Scott is all that his most enthusiastic admirers would have him to be, everybody knows that his establishment being the most fashionable in the metropolis, his business is so enormous that, to expect him to bestow more than the most casual consideration upon the work which passes through his office, is altogether unreasonable. Nor could it be supposed that the magnitude of his work was sufficient to have secured more than an ordinary amount of attention at his hands, for it was nothing unusual to him."

This statement comes from Alexander 'Greek' Thomson's Criticisms of Sir George Gilbert Scott's Design for the Building for the University of Glasgow. The idea that the University of Glasgow building was not on the top of Scott's priority list could also be backed up by looking at George Gilbert Scott's Recollections. In it he gives but brief mention of Glasgow University, referring to it in print only once.

Thomson's criticisms also go on to provide a passionate, detailed account of the unsuitability of the Gothic style for the University.

No 30. Cloisters under Bute Hall

No. 21 University Buildings from University Avenue


Alexander Thomson was famous for his Greek revival style, and in this speech he argues that it is far superior to the Gothic revival style. He describes the Gothic style in terms of the picturesque, in the way that it represents a contrived, idealistic form of nature. In the way that it is picturesque, it detracts from actual beauty, which is prevalent in complex animals, which have proportion and symmetry. He claims that real beauty is about truth, which a University should want to embody in its structure, and that the Gothic style does not support this ideal.

".there is not a modern Gothic revival building of more than ten years standing that any one cares a straw about."

Further criticisms are made throughout his speech, which makes for one of the most disparaging attacks on Scott's work. The Special Collections holds a copy of the original holograph of this speech, which was given to the Glasgow Architectural Society in 1866.


Slotted in between the photographs of the Old College and the Gilmorehill campus, we have the Preface, which details the history of the University from its foundation in 1451 until 1891. This history is brief, yet covers the varying operational structures of the University throughout the years, and has a good description of the changes that the University underwent following the Universities (Scotland) Acts in 1858 and 1889.

The second half of the volume contains sections on: the Chancellors of the University; the University Court; Rectors of the University; Dean of Faculties; Principals of the College and University; details of the Regents and Professors from 1573 to 1729; and the Bedellus. Also contained are sections on the faculties of the arts, theology, law and medicine, and a section on former Members of the Senate from 1869 to 1889.

Interspersed throughout are portraits of the Chancellor, Members of the University Court, the Rector, the Principal and other members of University staff, including all the Professors employed by the University at the time.

At the time in which this volume was published the University had many members of academic staff who would become world famous in their fields of expertise, such as William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, the Professor of Natural Philosophy.

The selected portraits below are a sample of the many contained in the volume.


No. 31 Interior of Bute Hall

John Caird

To the left is John Caird, who was Principal of the University at the time this volume was published.

Greenock born Caird was a well respected Church of Scotland Minister prior to his appointment as Principal. His sermons were well known and he was renowned for his eloquent speech; he preached before Queen Victoria, Disraeli, Chamberlain and Charles Kingsley among others. In 1862 he was appointed as Professor of Theology at Glasgow University, and held this post until 1873, when he was appointed

Caird oversaw substantial changes to the University, including the move to the Gilmorehill Campus, and the changes to the structure of the University's governing bodies that the Universities of Scotland Act introduced in 1889. Caird was also very influential in the movement towards University education for Women, in 1877 acting as president of the Glasgow Association for the Higher Education of Women, and playing an important part in the discussions that led to the 1892 merger of the University and Queen Margaret College. Caird died on the day his retirement was due to take effect, 30th July 1898, and was buried in Greenock cemetery. 

Pictured right is John Ferguson, bibliographer and chemist, and Professor of Chemistry at Glasgow University from 1874 to 1915.

He is probably best known for his book Bibliotheca chemica, published in 1906. Ferguson studied at Glasgow University prior to lecturing there, and was taught by Professor William Thomson, Lord Kelvin, and Thomas Anderson. He worked as an assistant to Professor Thomas Anderson from 1868 to 1874, and was left in charge of the Chemistry Department during the move to the Gilmorehill campus when Anderson fell ill. Ferguson was responsible for planning the new Chemistry Laboratories which were located in the east wing of the building.

The Library now holds Ferguson's Collection of books, which consists of some 7,500 volumes - mainly on alchemy, chemistry and related topics such as books of secrets, the occult sciences and witchcraft. The collection contains many editions of some key works in these fields, and holds volumes in German, Latin, English, French and Dutch.

Ferguson was nicknamed 'Soda' as it was said that he had a somewhat caustic personality.

For the most part of his life, Ferguson was involved in University business in some way, his last role being Honorary Curator of the Hunterian Museum.

John Ferguson

John Veitch

Pictured left is John Veitch who was a Professor of Logic and Rhetoric at the University from 1864 to 1894.

Prior to this appointment he had held the same post at the University of St. Andrews, from 1860. He has been found by historians to be a conservative thinker, who had no patience for idealist theories of the time. He is also known for his work on the history and poetry of the Scottish Borders.

The Veitch collection of books was donated to the University by Veitch's widow in 1895. It consists of 400 volumes, including 26 incunabula. It is centred around early medieval philosophical writings, and includes work by Peter Lombard, John of Salisbury, William of Ockham, Thomas Bradwardine, Albertus Magnus and Duns Scotus.


James Robertson, pictured right, was Professor of Oriental Languages at Glasgow University from 1877 to 1907. Robertson also spent some time as a missionary for the Church of Scotland in Constantinople and Beirut.

During his time at Glasgow University, the range of subjects taught in the department was increased, and it's name was changed from Oriental Languages, to Hebrew and Semitic Languages. Robertson also founded the Glasgow University Oriental Society.

In 1910 Robertson donated 929 books on Oriental Languages and Literature to the University.

The Special Collections department currently holds a selection of letters addressed to Mr Robertson, dated from 1864 - 1885.


James Robertson

Lauchlan MacPherson

Pictured left is Lauchlan MacPherson, the Bedellus. He was janitor at the University from 1853 and then became the Bedellus when the posts merged. The Bedellus was responsible for carrying out numerous procedural duties. It was his duty to alert the public to any changes made at the University, to attend meetings, and to show people to their seats at assemblies. It was also his duty to carry the Mace in University processions. The Mace was acquired by the University in 1465, and - except for a period during the Reformation when the University's belongings were moved to France for safekeeping - it has remained with the University to this day. It is still carried by the Bedellus in front of the rector on ceremonial occasions.



The images in this book were created by a process called photogravure. The Annan family of photographers were pioneering in the use of this process, and held the rights for its application in Britain and Ireland. The method was developed by Czech painter Karel Klíč in 1879. It involved dusting a copper plate with resin, and then laying onto the plate dichromated gelatine-carbon tissue. A controlled photographic exposure was then carried out, selectively hardening the gelatine. The process was expensive, but allowed photographers more individuality and creativity in their work. Photogravure was a technique that allowed photographs to be archived and stored, as the prints created would not fade.


This edition is a revision of an earlier volume, Memorials of the Old College of Glasgow. The original work is dedicated to the Old College, and contains a few images of the old college not contained in the later edition, as well as portraits of all of the academic staff at the time of the move. Although a few of these portraits are repeated in University of Glasgow Old and New, they were all re-taken.


The new edition was edited by William Stewart, Professor of Divinity and Biblical Criticism at the time. There were two runs of the work, printed by the Glasgow printing family MacLehose. The edition that is highlighted here is one of 50 copies printed on large paper. There were a further 350 copies of the text printed in a smaller size. An example of the smaller sized edition is currently on display in the foyer of the Special Collections Department, as part of an exhibition that celebrates 500 years of printing in Scotland. It will be on display until the end of September 2008. The Library also holds many other books published my the MacLehose family of printers, and this collection is currently being catalogued.

Detail from No. 2 Old College from College Street

This commemorative book is a fine example of the abilities of the Glasgow University printers, MacLehose, and is a testament to the talents of the Glasgow firm of photographers, Annan. Their beautiful portraits and images of the University buildings immortalised the Old College and the members of academic staff at a time of significant change for the University. Glasgow University Old and New is a valuable insight into the University's past, and to the University's role as a landmark institution.

Detail from title page : Sp Coll RX 152

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Eilidh Glynn July 2008