GLASGOW ACADEMY / HIGH

WHERE IS IT? In the city centre, on Elmbank Street, on the same street as the Kings Theatre and near Charing Cross station

This academic institution, dating back to 1845, was built by the Free Church of Scotland, who wished to broaden the church’s reach into education.



The Free Church of Scotland commissioned Glasgow architect Charles Wilson, a favourite pupil of David Hamilton, to design the new school. It was a large undertaking spread over two storeys, but they did not house the Academy for long. The institution followed the University of Glasgow, moving west in 1878 to the grounds it still inhabits today on Great Western Road. During its brief tenure in the city centre, one of its most famous graduates was James Matthew Barrie, who would later go on to write Peter Pan.


The Elmbank Street building was bought by the Glasgow School Board, becoming the new home of Glasgow High School, which had existed since 1460, and at the time located on John Street. In honour of the transition, famous sculptor John Mossman made four figure sculptures to stand above the entrance. They depicted Roman philosopher Cicero, Italian astronomer Galileo, Greek author Homer, and Scottish engineer James Watt.



The High School, which only accepted boys, remained as such until 1970, when the Glasgow Corporation abolished school fees and selectivity of those who attended them. It closed the boys school with the idea they would attend the Glasgow High School for Girls, renamed Cleveden High School. The board and influential former pupils disagreed with the changes, and decided to leave the public school system, merging with Drewsteignton School in the upper-class area of Bearsden. Following the drama surrounding the school, the building was renovated into offices for the Strathclyde Regional Council in 1976. Twenty years later, they were transferred to Glasgow City Council when the regional councils were abolished.



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