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Archives and Special Collections

Guide to resources in Archives and Special Collections at the University of Strathclyde

Introduction

3D model of University of Strathclyde campus development plan.Since the foundation of the University of Strathclyde in 1796, the institution has developed rapidly into a major technological institution. This progress is reflected in the University’s buildings and campus that have continually expanded and updated to support the growing student body and research activity.

This guide provides a timeline of key dates in the development of the University’s Campus including major refurbishments, procurement of buildings, campus features such as statuary, and the construction of completely new accommodation for departments, laboratories, and students.

Foundation of the institution and early years, 1796-1902

The University of Strathclyde began life as Anderson’s Institution, founded under the will of Professor John Anderson.

The institution initially rented space for its classes in the New Grammar School Buildings in George Street and the Trades Hall but by 1828 a new building was planned and foundations laid along George Street. The new ‘Anderson’s University’ building was completed in 1830.

Read more about Anderson's University building.

  • 1796: Instructions left In John Anderson’s will for the foundation of a ‘place for useful learning’.
  • 1798: Friends of the institution purchased a building on the West side of John Street known as the ‘flesh market’.
  • 1806: ‘Flesh market’ building on John Street formally purchased by the institution’s Trustees.
  • 1828: Plans drawn up for a new building on George Street.
  • 1831 (22 March): Anderson’s University Building opened on George Street. This building also housed the Andersonian Museum and Library.
  • 1832: Statue of James Watt, by John Greenshields, was commissioned by the University. It now stands within the Royal College Building.
  • 1902: Andersonian University building was demolished to make way for the Royal Technical College Building.

Image reference: Photograph of Anderson's University building, George Street (looking east) (OP/2/1/5).

The Royal College Building, 1903 - 1912

In 1887, Anderson’s College had merged with the College of Science and Arts, Allan Glen’s School and Atkinson’s Institution to form the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College (GWSTC).

By the 1890s, the existing buildings owned by the institution could not accommodate the increasing student numbers. The Governors of the GWSTC concluded that a new, purpose-built home was required and chose a design by David Barclay.

The site earmarked for the project lay at the corner of Montrose Street and George Street, and encompassed the old Andersonian Buildings, the City Public School and the Pupil Teacher Institute, all of which had to be gradually pulled down and cleared before work could begin on the new building.

The foundation stone of the new building was laid at a ceremony on 14 May 1903 by King Edward VII with seating for 2600 spectators.

What would become known as the Royal College Building (the GWSTC was renamed as the Royal Technical College in 1912) took several years to complete. It was constructed in four sections, the first of which was officially opened by the Secretary of State for Scotland on 21 December 1905. The second, facing onto George Street, was under construction from 1907-1908, while the third and fourth sections, on John Street, were finished during sessions 1908-1909 and 1909-1910 respectively. The resulting structure -  imposing, well furnished and excellently equipped – was ‘the largest single educational complex in Europe at the time’ (J. Butt, John Anderson’s Legacy: the University of Strathclyde and its antecedents 1796-1996, p.104).

Read more about building the Royal College.

  • 1903 (14 May): The foundation stone of the Technical College building was laid by King Edward VII.
  • 1905 (21 December): First section of the Technical College Building opened by the Secretary of State for Scotland.
  • 1907 – 1908: Second section of the Technical College Building under construction.
  • 1908: The Library moved to the first floor of the Technical College Building.
  • 1908 – 1909: Third section of the Technical College Building under construction.
  • 1909 – 1910: Fourth section of the Technical College Building under construction.
  • 1912: New Technical College building renamed as the Royal College Building.

Image reference: Photograph of south east corner of Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College building, at Montrose Street (looking west) (OP/2/1/24/4).

1950s- Post War boom

Photograph of the students union building on John Street.Student numbers of the Royal Technical College (as it was then known) rose from 3,800 before World War II, to 6,000 in 1950 so expansion beyond the Royal College Building was badly needed. Keen to hold on to its title of having the largest School of Technology of any college or university in the country, the institution intended the extension as somewhere for the Civil and Mechanical Engineering Department to call home. This project was then known as the ‘Montrose Street extension’ and architects Wylie, Shanks & Wylie were appointed. The construction of the building was split into two phases with phase 1 completed in 1957.

Read more about the James Weir building.

  • 1957: The opening of the Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, and Mining Engineering Block (later James Weir Building)- phase 1.
  • 1955 – 1958: Construction of the Students Union Building.
  • 1959 (18 May): Opening of the Students Union at John Street.

Image reference: Photograph of exterior of Students Union building (OP/2/1/118/1).

1960s

1964 saw the institution recognised officially as a University with the granting of the Royal Charter. The decade of the 1960s was also an important one for the development of the University campus.

An agreement was made with Glasgow Corporation to share a site they had recently acquired near Montrose Street and the contract for two buildings, one for the College’s use and the other a commercial office building, was awarded to Sir Robert McAlpine and Sons Ltd. This arrangement was one of the first examples of a university building being associated with commercial development. In the summer of 1962 work was started on the College’s McCance building which was initially called the Arts, Social Studies and Library Building and Glasgow Corporation’s Alec House, which would eventually be leased out to the University and renamed Livingstone Tower.

Read more about the McCance building.

The University also acquired more student accommodation in this decade with the purchase of the stunning Art Deco style Beresford Hotel in 1964. This became the Baird Hall with 320 study-bedrooms for male students. 

Read more about the Baird Hall.

The University constructed new accommodation for its ‘Department of Architecture’:  one of the oldest architectural training schools in the United Kingdom, in the 1960s. This purpose-built base for the staff and students of architecture would be the first completely new architectural school building in the country for more than 30 years.

The contract to design the new building was awarded to Frank Fielden and Associates, a Glasgow architectural firm headed by the then Professor of Architecture at Strathclyde, Frank Fielden. In his dual role of architect and client, Fielden was ideally placed to fulfil his own design brief, which stipulated modern, high-quality studio and study space for each student (a total population of 230 undergraduates and 30 postgraduates was envisaged), plus laboratory space dedicated to the growing field of building science.

Construction work began in 1964, and the distinctive new Architecture Building was formally opened by the President of the Royal Institute of British Architects, Viscount Esher, on 16 February 1967. The new facilities were hailed in the Architects’ Journal of 10 May 1967 as ‘a first-class environment for one of the oldest schools of architecture in the country’.

Read more about the Architecture building.

  • 1962: Work began on the Arts, Social Studies, and Library Building, and Alec House (later McCance Building and Livingstone Tower).
  • 1964: Phase 2 of engineering block completed the Mechanical, Civil, Chemical and Mining Engineering Block (later James Weir Building).
  • 1964: Thomas Graham Building opened (department of Pure and Applied Chemistry).
  • 1964: The Beresford Hotel (later the Baird Hall) was acquired by the University.
  • 1964: The Library moved to the McCance Building.
  • 1964 (04 June): Ceremony for the opening of the McCance Building, by Lady McCance.
  • 1965 (02 February): Alec House (later Livingstone Tower) taken over by the University.
  • 1965 (17 May): Alec House renamed Livingstone Tower.
  • 1965 (25 October): Baird Hall formally opened by John Logie Baird's widow (originally the Beresford Hotel).
  • 1966 (09 February): The Livingstone Tower officially opened by Lord Todd of Trumpington.
  • 1967 (16 February): School of Architecture opened by Rt hon the Viscount Esher, President of the Royal Institute of British Architects.
  • 1968: Balmanno building opened as Student residences (had been purchased by the University and refurbished).
  • 1968 (01 March): Opening and naming ceremony of the Colville Building (Metallurgy and Civil Engineering building) by The Rt Hon The Lord Provost of Glasgow John Johnston.
  • 1968 (08 May): The re-naming of the Mechanical, Civil, Chemical, and Mining Engineering block to the James Weir Building, after one of the founding brothers of the Weir Group.
  • 1969 (12 February): The Centre for Industrial Innovation opened as part of the congregations.

Image reference: Photograph of McCance building and Livingstone Tower (OP 2/2/15/8).

1970s

Photograph of the Wolfson building.The 1970s saw more accommodation for University departments being built, acquired, and refurbished. 

The Wolfson Centre was opened by Lady Wolfson on 21 June 1972. It was the result of a benefaction of £275,000 made by the Wolfson Trust to the University and helped fund the new building for the Bioengineering Unit, which cost £430,000 in total. 

1974 saw a large art installation on campus: the 'Callanish' sculpture, by artist Gerald Laing, was erected on the highest natural point on campus. The sculpture comprises sixteen steel pillars and is based on ancient standing stones in Callanish, Western Isles. In Laing's own words it was created to "remind the scientifically orientated student that there is a place for the contemplative- and the art student that art must make use of modern scientific materials and scales to remain relevant".

Read more about the Callanish sculpture

The Strathclyde Business School was formally opened in 1976 by the Chairman of the School's Steering Board, Sir Frank McFadzean LLD, Chairman of British Airways and formerly Chairman of the Shell Transport and Trading Co Ltd. The building was funded by the University, the Foundation for Management Education, and the University Grants Committee (UGC), and cost £925,000. The building was later re-named as the 'Sir William Duncan Building' in 1985 in memory of the Chairman of the Council of the Strathclyde Business School.

  • 1970 (1 May): The James P. Todd building (Food Science Department) was opened. The building had been purchased and refurbished by the University.
  • 1971 (November): The naming ceremony of the Alexander Turnbull Building. This was previously called the Sinclair Building and housed the Departments of Psychology and Audio Visual Aids.
  • 1971: The John Anderson Building was opened, to house the Departments of Civil Engineering, Physics, and Applied Physics.
  • 1971: Ross Priory was acquired by the University.
  • 1972: The University purchased the Curran Building from publishers William Collins & Co.
  • 1972: Student residences Birkbeck Court were completed.
  • 1972 (21 June): The Wolfson Building was opened by Lady Wolfson.
  • 1973 (12 April): Stenhouse building was opened by Mrs Rosamund Stenhouse.
  • 1974: Callanish Sculpture, by Gerald Laing, was erected at the highest point on campus.
  • 1975: Reith Hall was acquired by the University and opened as student residences.
  • 1976 (3 March): The University Centre was officially opened by Lady Curran. It housed the Sports Centre.
  • 1976 (1 July): The formal opening of the Todd Centre, for Biological Sciences, by Lady Todd.
  • 1976 (16 November): The Strathclyde Business School was officially opened by Sir Frank McFadzean, Chairman of the Steering Board.
  • 1978 (1 November): Opening of the new Chaplaincy Centre by Lady Curran within, what was formerly, St Paul's Church, John Street.

Image reference: Photograph of Wolfson building (OP).

1980s

Photograph of the Curran building.

More property was acquired by the University in the 1980s, further student residencies were completed, and the campus 'Village' was opened in 1988. There were also some significant buildings and centres opened in this decade that supported cutting edge research and teaching.

The Curran building was purchased by the University from Glasgow publishers William Collins Sons & So Ltd in 1972 and the official naming ceremony took place on 24 October 1980. Sir Samuel Curran officiated the ceremony that granted the building his name. The University extended this honour to Curran in recognition of his outstanding service, both as Principal of the Royal College of Science and Technology from 1959 - 1964, and as the first Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde from 1964 until his retirement in 1980.

Read more about Samuel Curran.

In the same year, the University's Andersonian Library moved from the McCance building to the Curran Building. It opened for readers on 15 September 1980 with the official opening ceremony, by Secretary of State for Scotland Rt Hon George Younger, on 20 February 1981.

  • 1980 (24 October): Curran Building officially named by Professor Samuel Curran.
  • 1981 (20 February): Andersonian Library, within the Curran Building, officially opened by Secretary of State for Scotland, Rt Hon George Younger.
  • 1983: The University acquired the Ramshorn Church.
  • 1983: The Engineering Applications Centre building opened (later named the Lord Hope Building).
  • 1983: Morrin Square/ Collins Street student residences opened.
  • 1983 (27 May): National Centre for Prosthetics and Orthotics formally opened by Professor George Murdoch.
  • 1983 (10 August): Topping Out ceremony for Birkbeck Court Phase II, student residences.
  • 1983 (19 September): Opening of the West of Scotland Science Park- by Princess Royal.
  • 1984: The Barony Hall was purchased by the University.
  • 1984 (17 April): Lord Todd building officially opened by Chancellor Lord Todd: an amenity centre in the Student Village.
  • 1984 (25 April): Official Opening of Murray Hall by Lord Murray of Newhaven- student residential accommodation.
  • 1984 (14 November): University Computer Centre officially opened by Mr John Butcher MP.
  • 1985: The Strathclyde Business School Building renamed the 'Sir William Duncan Building'.
  • 1986: The Centre for Industrial Innovation became known as the 'Henry Dyer' building.
  • 1987: University acquired Marland House, the old British telecommunications building (later became known as the Graham Hills Building).
  • 1988 (14 December): Campus Village formally opened by Rt Hon Malcolm Rifkind, Secretary of State for Scotland.

Image reference: Photograph of Curran building (OP).

1990s

Photograph of the Barony Church.The 1990s saw the Grade A listed Barony Hall, purchased by the University in 1984, become a central ceremony space for university events, exams, and graduations. The hall was restored by the University and an inaugural concert was given on 24 April 1991. Restoration work on the Barony continued throughout the decade with the stained-glass windows unveiled in 1996, and the restoration complete in 1997. This restoration work earned high acclaim in architectural and design circles, winning awards from Europa Nostra Award, the UK Civic Trust, Glasgow Civic Trust, and the Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland.

The first University of Strathclyde graduations to take place in the Barony were in the Summer of 1991. Prior to this, graduation ceremonies were held in the City Halls and the Honorary Graduations (on Commemoration Day) were held in the Glasgow Cathedral.

Read more about the Barony Hall.

  • 1990: Andrew Ure Court, student accommodation, was opened by Sir Graham Hills.
  • 1991: Marland House re-named the Sir Graham Hills Building.
  • 1991 (24 April): Inaugural concert at the Barony Hall, acquired by the University: An organ recital on the newly-installed Taylor Organ.
  • 1991 (July): First graduation ceremonies occurred in the Barony Hall.
  • 1992 (14 December): Strathclyde Graduate Business School opened by Ian Lang, Secretary of State for Scotland.
  • 1993 (1 April): Official merger day of University of Strathclyde with Jordanhill College of Education.
  • 1995 (May): The Ramshorn Theatre formally named by Liz Lochead.
  • 1995 (September): Strathclyde University Nursery opened in Forbes Hall.
  • 1996 (April): Stained glass windows unveiled in the Barony Hall- Commemorating the Bicentenary of the University’s foundation.
  • 1997 (November): James Goold Hall,  Halls of Residences, opened by infant grandson of Lord Goold.
  • 1997: James P. Todd building sold by the University.
  • 1997: Restoration of the Barony Hall completed.
  • 1999 (28 January): Strathclyde Institute for Biomedical Sciences opened by the Princess Royal.
  • 1999: Opening of the refurbished Lord Hope Building (previously The Engineering Applications Centre)- named after Lord Hope of Craighead, a former Chancellor of the University and the inaugural Deputy President of the UK Supreme Court.

Image reference: Photograph of Barony Church (T-MIN 18/3).

2000s

  • 2000 (26 October): Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship opened by alumnus Tom Hunter, Scots entrepreneur.
  • 2001 (23 March): Missives signed for the site of the Glasgow Royal Maternity Hospital on Rottenrow to Strathclyde University.
  • 2002: Demolition of the Rottenrow hospital.
  • 2002: Baird Hall sold by the University.
  • 2004 (25 June): Garden Party at Rottenrow to mark the formal opening of the landscaped gardens.
  • 2009 (Summer): Formal 'topping out' ceremony of the building for Strathclyde Institute of Pharmacy & Biomedical Sciences.

2010s

  • 2012: All teaching moved from Jordanhill campus to the University of Strathclyde John Anderson campus.
  • 2013: Department of Architecture relocated to the James Weir Building.
  • 2013 (May): University Court approval for purchase of five-floor townhouse at 4 Park Circus, Glasgow. 
  • 2015: Sale of the former Jordanhill campus site.
  • 2015 (3 July): Strathclyde's Technology and Innovation Centre opened by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh.
  • 2016 (November): Re-opening of the Strathclyde Business School building following a £23.2 million refurbishment.
  • 2018: £12 million extension and refurbishment of the John Anderson building completed.
  • 2019 (29 March): Strathclyde Sport formally opened by Dame Katherine Grainger.

2020s

  • 2021: The opening of the Learning & Teaching Building (included redevelopment of the Colville and Architecture buildings).
  • 2021 (March): Completion of £15.5 Million redevelopment of the Wolfson Centre.
  • 2021 (July): The former Colville building re-named the Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell Wing and the former Architecture building re-named the Professor Mary Dunn Wing.

University buildings timeline researched by Sophie Farrell, History student at the University of Strathclyde, 2023.