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Former Greenfield Primary School including janitor's accommodation, 29 Nimmo Drive, Govan

A Category B Listed Building in Govan, Glasgow

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Latitude: 55.8584 / 55°51'30"N

Longitude: -4.3234 / 4°19'24"W

OS Eastings: 254674

OS Northings: 665241

OS Grid: NS546652

Mapcode National: GBR 04M.PN

Mapcode Global: WH3P7.K0GQ

Plus Code: 9C7QVM5G+9J

Entry Name: Former Greenfield Primary School including janitor's accommodation, 29 Nimmo Drive, Govan

Listing Name: Former Greenfield Primary School, including janitor’s accommodation, laundry and swimming pool block, boundary walls and gatepiers, 29 Nimmo Drive, Govan, Glasgow

Listing Date: 11 January 2017

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 406915

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52416

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Glasgow

County: Glasgow

Town: Glasgow

Electoral Ward: Govan

Traditional County: Lanarkshire

Tagged with: Architectural structure


Dated 1901, Greenfield Primary School was designed by Steele and Balfour in 1899-1900 and constructed in 1901-1902 for the Govan Parish School Board. The date panel and inscriptions Greenfield Public School', 'GOVAN PARISH' and 'SCHOOL BOARD' are found on the principal elevation.

The red sandstone building is 3 storeys and basement, with a symmetrical 7-bays to the principal elevation facing Nimmo Drive. The central, 3-bay section is flanked by slightly advanced 2-bay piended pavilions. The basement has arched openings and is semi-sunken and rusticated. The principal elevation has ashlar band courses, pilasters and quoins, with rusticated details. There are base and cill courses, and dentilled eaves. There is clay ridge tiling and finials to the roof. The side and rear elevations are of squared and snecked stone with ashlar window surrounds and quoins to angles. The windows are predominantly 2 over 2 pane with a horizontally set pane to the lower section.

There are pedimented, flat roofed entrance blocks for boys (to east) and infants and girls (to west).

There is a 3-bay, 2 storey, piended roof, janitor's accommodation adjoining to the southeast. There are segmental pedimented windows breaking the eaves.

There is a tall and square two stage boiler chimney stack to the south which is octagonal and corniced at the second stage.

Connected at the ground floor to the south of the school is an L-plan section including the former laundry (later used as a gymnasium), and a long, single storey rectangular-plan swimming pool block, with a bulls-eye window to the gable ends, constructed of squared and coursed sandstone with ashlar quoins.

The interior was partially seen in 2016. There is a large double height central hall with a hammerbeam roof with timber trusses resting on stone corbels and with a large skylight opening above, galleried at the first and second floors, with an atrium above. The walls are tiled, with a green border, up to dado height in the public circulation and corridor areas, and predominantly timber lined in the classrooms. Decorative scrolled stone consoles support each floor level of the central hall.

The pool block interior has a rectangular pool with white tiles and white painted brick walls. There are changing cubicles to the north wall under a blind arcade and shower facilities to the east. There are simple detailed iron roof supports on stone corbels and a timber lined ceiling.

There are low coped stone boundary walls with plain cast iron railings, and with square ashlar square gatepiers at regular intervals surmounted with large ball finials forming the boundary to the east, north and west.

Statement of Interest

Greenfield Primary School is a good example of a large city board school. The interior of the building retains a significant amount of historic fabric. Its plan conforms to the typical 'central hall' model of school building at the time and remains substantially intact. Of further interest is the completeness of the site which also retains its janitor's house, and less commonly compared to the majority of Glasgow's board school, a swimming pool. The school and its ancillary buildings remain largely as built, and this adds to its interest in listing terms. The building has a prominent street presence within its immediate location.

Age and Rarity

The Govan Parish School Board selected the Nimmo Drive site in 1899. Steele and Balfour were chosen as architects for the scheme and the design was executed between November 1899 and January 1900. The building was completed in 1902 and had capacity for 750 scholars. As was the convention with Govan Parish School Board buildings of this time, a swimming pool and bathmaster's house was provided to the rear of the main block, including a linked laundry block. A janitor's house was incorporated into the southeast of the main school building. The school was in continual use until it closed in 2009.

The 1872 Education (Scotland) Act made education free and compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 13 and also required that newly formed local school boards were responsible for this provision. By 1878, a large number of the new board schools providing primary education had been built, and this unprecedented publicly- funded building programme continued until the early part of the 20th century.

As the second largest city in Great Britain at this time, Glasgow and its surrounding parishes had a pressing need for new school accommodation. The city's school boards led an ambitious programme of school building in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, employing some of the most prominent architects in private practice to design their new buildings.

The Govan Parish School Board, a body with 'strong socialist leanings' (O'Brien, p211), pioneered the introduction of school swimming pools and constructed 8 schools with pools and gymnasiums between 1885 and 1904. Only in Liverpool was this figure surpassed. Few school swimming pools now survive especially if they were located near the main school building rather than built integrally.

Although not early for its building type, Greenfield Primary School is a good example of a large city board school. The interior of the building conforms to the standard 'central hall' model of school building at the time and is typical for its date. Its plan remains substantially intact and the surviving swimming pool with its adjoining janitor's accommodation is a notable addition. The school and it ancillary buildings remain largely as built, and this adds to its interest in listing terms.

Architectural or Historic Interest


The interior was partially seen in 2016. The interior is largely unaltered and retains a significant amount of early 20th century architectural decoration as well as fixtures and fittings. Although simple in design, features such as the atrium gallery and tiled walls up to dado height, remain intact and this is notable. The swimming pool block is a good example of practical board school provision for swimming with hygienic white glazed surfaces and natural light provided by the glazed roof.

Plan form

Greenfield Primary School is roughly H-plan in form, including its pool block, which is typical for a building of this type. The 'central hall' model of school building, widespread in Britain between 1873 and 1920, provided light, airy and safe internal spaces where the school could gather for lessons, gymnastics and general assemblies. While there are some partition walls to the classrooms, the original intended plan form is clearly visible. The central hall model provided for assembly to the centre of the plan with surrounding classrooms, some with sliding partitions to be used as flexible learning spaces. Segregated entrances and ease of circulation were also key features of this plan type.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

Greenfield Primary School's restrained Italianate design is typical of large school buildings of this date. The symmetrical design and the architectural detailing are of good quality and the building remains largely unaltered. Two early innovations introduced at Greenfield Primary School were the lighting of the building by electricity, sourced from the burgh of Govan's own generating station, and the provision of individual cubicles in the latrines instead of a trough system.

The practice of Steele and Balfour was founded by Henry Bell Wesley Steele (born around 1852). In 1886 he took into partnership Andrew Balfour (born 1863), who was a pupil of James Boucher who had gained experience as an assistant in the office of John Burnet & Son. The partnership made its name by winning the competition for Largs Parish Church in 1889, and sometime thereafter Balfour travelled in Italy southern France sketching. Balfour was regarded as the designer in the firm and the influence of the important Glasgow architect John James Burnet on the work of the practice appears to bear that out.


Greenfield Primary School has a prominent street presence within its immediate location which is largely residential consisting of contemporary early 20th century tenements as well as later 20th century infill housing developments.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2016).

Locally, it is said that almost every child in Govan learned to swim at Greenfield Primary School including the well-known football manager, Sir Alex Ferguson, who is from the area.

External Links

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