SIR JOHN MAXWELL SCHOOL
WHERE IS IT? On Bengal Street in the Shawlands district, a short walk from Pollokshaws East or West train station
The Sir John Maxwell School was designed by John H. Hamilton in 1906-1907 for the Eastwood Parish School Board, to replace a previous industrial school which had been built half a century earlier in 1854.
Hamilton, who helped his father James build the nearby Shawlands Primary School, chose to use red sandstone as he had in his previous school designs. This decision drew consternation from those who had hoped it would use the blond sandstone and Scots Baronial style of the neighbouring Pollokshaws Burgh Hall, erected a decade earlier. In its early days the school was used to teach adult night classes, including one on Marxism by revolutionary socialist John Maclean. It was also home to a popular Gaelic department from 1985 to 1999, when the Glasgow Gaelic Primary School was opened. It proved so popular that the school relocated to the vacant Woodwide Secondary School in 2006.
The Sir John Maxwell School was named after the benefactor who donated the land, Sir John Stirling-Maxwell, the 10th Baronet, Scottish politician and philanthropist who helped shape the Pollok area into the green space it still is today. Honoured by the school being named after him, Maxwell officially opened it in 1909.
While the school governors wished for something more modest and less expensive, Mackintosh wanted to design a palace of education where pupils would be proud to attend. They did so for almost seventy years, from the school’s creation in 1906 to its closure in 1973, due to low pupil numbers caused by the decay of the surrounding area.
The school reopened as a museum, with a room devoted to its illustrious designer. As well as exhibits on education throughout the ages, the school museum infamous amongst Glaswegians for its role-playing experience, where you are dressed as a pupil of yesteryear and forced to listen to a lesson by a stern schoolmistress. Many often ending up in the corner wearing the dunce hat.
The museum is free, but a little out the way, and with the car park being ridiculously expensive, we recommend either going by bus or subway, with Shields Road station located just outside.
The highlights for those only in Glasgow for a day or two
Glasgow has a vast selection of museums and art galleries
Buildings and designs by Scotland's most famous architect
The pioneer of sustainable building with many examples across Glasgow