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Industrial Revolution: 1770s to 1830s

Learning and Beliefs


By Michael Moss

University Library and Hamilton Building At the University of Glasgow the great professors of the mid-18th century were succeeded by less well-known, but equally influential men, such as Thomas Reid (1710-1796), James Jeffray (1759-1848) and Thomas Hope (1766-1844). A new library was built in 1782 and in 1811 the east side of the east quadrangle was demolished to make way for the more commodious Hamilton building.

The Lecture Room The foundation of Glasgow Royal Infirmary in 1794 allowed systematic clinical teaching to begin. The number of medical students climbed from fifty-four in 1790 to 387 in 1831. The bequest by William Hunter (1718-1783) of his famous collection of anatomical and other specimens, books and manuscripts, pictures and curios was an invaluable asset for both teaching and research. At the end of the 18th century the University had 1,500 students making it of equivalent size to the University of Edinburgh.

University Student, c 1844 Nevertheless there were internal tensions. There were professors who wanted reform, particularly John Anderson (1726-1796), Professor of Natural Philosophy. On his death in 1796 he left money for the establishment of the Andersonian Institution to provide practical instruction to meet the needs of the expanding local economy. From its foundation in 1796 the institution attracted gifted men, such as Dr Thomas Garnett (1766-1802), George Birbeck (1776-1841) and Andrew Ure (1778-1857). In response to this challenge six new regius chairs were established at the University between 1807 and 1831. Only students taking classes in Arts were now required to wear red gowns. Still few graduated, most preferring to attend for a year or two to complete their education.

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