This site is entirely user-supported. See how you can help.
Latitude: 55.8718 / 55°52'18"N
Longitude: -4.289 / 4°17'20"W
OS Eastings: 256878
OS Northings: 666665
OS Grid: NS568666
Mapcode National: GBR 0CG.NV
Mapcode Global: WH3P2.2NXY
Plus Code: 9C7QVPC6+PC
Entry Name: Main Building, University Of Glasgow, University Avenue, Glasgow
Listing Name: University of Glasgow, Gilmorehill Campus Buildings A5 to A17 (Inclusive Numbers), Gilbert Scott Building Including West Range, Memorial Chapel and Lion & Unicorn Staircase
Listing Date: 15 December 1970
Source: Historic Scotland
Source ID: 376105
Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB32913
Building Class: Cultural
Sir George Gilbert Scott (N, S and E elevations), 1867-1870; tower and spire finished 1891 by John Oldrid Scott. U-plan, later made into 2 quadrangles with addition of Bute and Randolph Halls, designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott and executed by his son, John Oldrid Scott, and Edwin Morgan, 1878-84; West Quadrangle fully enclosed by West Range and Memorial Chapel, Sir John James Burnet, 1923-29. Lion and Unicorn Staircase, William Riddell, 1690, from the demolished High Street Old College buildings; reconstructed at Gilmorehill, Sir George Gilbert Scott, 1872; reconstructed in current location at SW end of West Range and re-oriented, office of Sir John James Burnet, 1929. Squared, coursed, local blond sandstone with polished Kenmure freestone dressings; some red sandstone and granite details. Early Netherlandish style with many 16th century Scottish details. Near symmetrical 180m S (principal) elevation with 30.5m central tower and open spire. 2- and 3- storey with attics and basements. N, S, E and W corner pavilions with pepperpot angle turrets.
S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: bays grouped 2-11-3-11-2; buttressed 3-storey end and central pavilions linked by 2-storey ranges; central entrances in 2-storey ranges to E and W quadrangles, oriels over, and crowstepped gables; central 3-storey piended roof pavilion with advanced 6-stage tower and open pierced spire. E ELEVATION: 4-storey pavilions linked by 3-storey range; full-height circular stairtower at NE angle of SE pavilion. N (UNIVERSITY AVENUE) ELEVATION: symmetrical; central pavilion formed by apsidal end of Hunterian Museum set in flanking single bays with polygonal pier buttresses, conical roof; 3-bay links flanking with arched entrances at ground floor; 7-bay buttressed ranges (Hunter Halls and Kelvin Gallery) with basement and cusped tracery windows; 2-bay links with crow-stepped dormers; 4-storey outer pavilions.W (PROFESSORS' SQUARE) ELEVATION: 4-storey, symmetrical 10-bay range (1923-29) between earlier outer pavilions (1867-70) with W end of chapel raised and breaking forward at centre of range (see Chapel description below). Ground floor and 1st floor windows vertically linked in groups of 4 set in arched sections with colonette mullions, cill band. Staged, gabled buttresses linked by pierced parapet, elliptically arched ground floor breaking forward. Parapet finials over blank niches. LION AND UNICORN STAIRCASE: 1690 balustraded scale and platt staircase relocated to the West Range S of the University Chapel in 1929; sculpted lion and unicorn finials at the first platt; ball finials to other newels.
EAST QUADRANGLE INNER ELEVATIONS: 2-storey and attic with crowstepped dormers to E elevation; stair turrets with helm roofs, NE corner galleried tourelle; shaped headed entrances; cusped tracery. S elevations: simple detailing, 2-storey and attic with central ribbed arched entrance from S front through vaulted undercroft. SW corner advanced section with turret. N elevation: stepped buttressed frontage of Hunter Hall; NW corner squinch turret with blind arcading at base. WEST QUADRANGLE INNER ELEVATIONS: repeats arrangement to S and N of East Quadrangle. Rear elevation of West Range similar to main front excluding projecting ground floor/raised basement taking up terrace. BUTE HALL: elevated on open rib-vaulted, columned undercroft oriented N-S linking the 2 earlier elevations. 5 bays of symmetrical design to E and W; stepped buttresses, richly detailed geometrical windows clasped between circular stair tourelles with narrow loop lights and galleried tops. Plinth, cornice, arcaded parapet, crow-stepped ends.RANDOLPH HALL: continuous in design with Bute Hall to N. Crow-stepped gables to E and W with cusped lower windows and intricate Y-tracery above.
MEMORIAL CHAPEL: Nave and chancel. String moulded, arched entrances to N and S, buttressed to left and (in S entrance) to right. Corner turret. 4-light arched W window with finials, set back gable with flanking spirelets. Ground floor elliptically-arched section carrying balcony with pierced parapet in front of blind arcade. East elevation: similar to W elevation above ground floor with tripartite E window, semi-extruded flanking entrances with solid parapets. Slate roof; flèche.
Casement windows, mainly 2-light, cusped with colonettes in groups of 2 or 4; leaded lights. Grey slate roofs; gabletted dormer windows.
INTERIORS: (principal spaces seen 1988; minor revisions 2010).
PRINCIPAL STAIRCASE (S range): compartmental ceiling; giant arcade with clustered colonettes to open well staircase carried on decorative cast-iron beams; wrought-iron balustrade; rib-vaulted ceiling; white marble standing figure of Adam Smith by Hans Gasser, 1867.UNIVERSITY COURT: oak panelled room with elaborately carved chimneypiece. HUNTERIAN MUSEUM AND BUTE HALL STAIR: open well staircase; ashlar and cast-iron construction, faced with marble; highly decorative wrought-iron rail; coved and compartmental ceiling. HUNTERIAN MUSEUM ENTRANCE HALL: apsidal hall, arcade with aisles; timber open wagon roof. HUNTERIAN MUSEUM GALLERY: double-columned gallery and ceiling of open cast-iron construction; stylised stiff-leaf columns with rosettes, brackets, and joists; carved timber arcaded balusters; timber wagon roof with column corbelled brackets at ends. White marble seated figure of James Watt by Francis Chantrey, 1823. KELVIN GALLERY (FORMER LIBRARY): similar details to Hunterian Museum Gallery. RANDOLPH HALL: forms ante room to Bute Hall, separated by richly carved timber screen; timber paneling; blind arcaded S wall and barrel roof stencilled; canopied niches and quatrefoils. BUTE HALL: clustered cast-iron columns stencilled with fleur-de-lys; arcaded gallery; panelled roof; organ gallery. Stained glass: Edward Burne-Jones and Henry Holiday, 1893-1903; Morris & Co., 1901; Douglas Strachan, 1907; Gordon Webster, 1970. CHAPEL: nave: boldly corbelled engaged shafts, wide 2-light windows. Wide chancel arch with elaborately detailed corbel to shallow chancel with arcading. 2-bay, arched transeptal galleries with arcade parapets. Richly carved choir stalls and pulpit. Blaxter stone. Communion table with carved symbols of the Apostles. Stained Glass: 4 W windows Saints Andrew, Columba, Kentigern and Ninian by Douglas Strachan. Faculty stained glass in N wall: Law, History and Literature by Gordon Webster, 1954.
Gilbert Scott Building is part of an A-Group with McMillan Reading Room, Gatepiers, Railings, Quincentenary Gates, Pearce Lodge, Hunter Memorial, John McIntyre Building, Thomson Building, James Watt Building and Lord Kelvin's Sundial.
Of interest as an outstanding example of later 19th century Gothic Revival architecture by a leading British architect, Sir George Gilbert Scott. A number of the interior spaces are exceptional for their decorative schemes. The building also incorporates the fine Lion & Unicorn Staircase of 1690 from the Old College in the High Street and work of the highest quality by other major architects, including John Oldrid Scott and Sir John James Burnet.
By the 1840s the University's remarkable 17th century High Street buildings were much decayed and the surrounding area had become a disreputable part of town. The University made the controversial decision to sell the High Street site to pay for new buildings in a more fashionable location. The first scheme to build a magnificent college in Woodlands failed when the Glasgow, Airdrie & Monklands Railway Company were unable to complete the purchase of the High Street site.
A subsidiary of the North British Railway Company offered £100,000 for the High Street site in 1863. This time the transaction proceeded and the Gilmorehill lands were purchased for £65,000, along with the adjoining Donaldshill site for the new Western Infirmary. Controversially the commission for the new Gilmorehill building was offered to George Gilbert Scott without competition in October 1864. The first turf was cut on 6 June 1866 and the (incomplete) building was occupied for the academic session in November 1870. Throughout the building process there were frequent alterations to the plans and disputes over costs. The old Gilmorehill House served as a site office during construction before demolition in 1870. With the exception of the spire, the original U-plan scheme was completed in 1872. Three sides of a residential square were constructed at the open W end of the quadrangle (see separate list description for '1-13 The Square').
Major benefactions by Charles Randolph and the third Marquess of Bute enabled Scott to work up designs for the projected second phase of halls dividing the large central quadrangle into two. Scott's design was implemented posthumously from 1878 by his second son, John Oldrid Scott, and his Clerk of Works, Edwin Morgan. Following completion of the Bute and Randolph Halls in 1884, the last phase of the original plan was the addition of the spire in 1891 to a modified 'open' design by John Oldrid Scott.
John James Burnet was first appointed to complete the western range of the Gilbert Scott Building in 1913, but it was 1923 before work began on construction of the War Memorial Chapel and West Range. Modelling for stone carving was undertaken by Walter Gilbert and modelling for wood carving and internal -fittings by Archibald Dawson. The Chapel was dedicated on 4 October 1929. The West Range was originally occupied by the Faculty of Arts.
The Lion & Unicorn Staircase was designed in 1690 by William Riddell for the old college buildings in the High Street. The staircase was salvaged from the High Street site and re-erected at Gilmorehill in 1870. It was moved to its current location and re-configured (with a left turn, rather than the original right turn) in 1929 on construction of the Memorial Chapel and West Range.
The rich decorative schemes of the Randolph and Bute Halls were restored in 1985.
Formerly listed under 3 separate entries: '1 Gilmorehill, University of Glasgow, Main Block: Quadrangles, Bute Hall, Randolph Hall, Hunterian Museum, Library'; '1 And 1c Gilmorehill, University of Glasgow, West Range And Memorial Chapel'; and '1 Gilmorehill, University Of Glasgow Lion and Unicorn Staircase'. Also formerly part of Kelvingrove Park West B-group.
List description updated as part of review of the University of Glasgow Hillhead Campus, 2011. The building numbers are derived from the University of Glasgow Main Campus Map (2007), as published on the University's website www.gla.ac.uk.
External links are from the relevant listing authority and, where applicable, Wikidata. Wikidata IDs may be related buildings as well as this specific building. If you want to add or update a link, you will need to do so by editing the Wikidata entry.
Other nearby listed buildings