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The Rising Burgh: 1560 to 1770s

Buildings and Cityscape

University of Glasgow

By Michael Moss

Old College The construction of the new buildings in the High Street during the troubled times of the mid-17th century was an astonishing achievement, particularly as the university had no money. In 1630 Principal Strang launched a public appeal with remarkable results. The first donation was from King Charles I, who visited Glasgow in 1633 on his way to his coronation in Scotland. Oliver Cromwell finally paid this after the King's execution. Altogether 40,000 merks were raised.

Old College Entrance Work began in 1631 with the east quadrangle furthest from the street and continued as funds allowed for another thirty years by which time the two quadrangles and the bell tower were virtually completed. The bell was rung to summon students to their classes and became known as the "hurry bell". The frontage on the High Street was ornately decorated with the royal coat of arms over the gateway, hurriedly added when Charles II was restored to the throne. The buildings, on three storeys, contained lecture halls and rooms for students and staff, along with a common dining hall such as might be found in Oxford or Cambridge colleges. Richer students could have their own chambers, while the poorer had to make do with truckle beds in the garret. Further buildings were added later, including in the 1690s the Lion and Unicorn staircase. The buildings, which were considered to be amongst the finest of the period in Scotland, were demolished to make way for a railway goods station when the university moved to Gilmorehill in 1870.

Pearce Lodge Parts of the frontage of the Old College, as it was affectionately known to Glaswegians, were rescued by the shipbuilder Sir William Pearce and incorporated in a gate lodge to the University's new buildings on Gilmorehill where they can still be seen and are now known as Pearce Lodge.

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