Basic Site Details

Name: Mechanics Institute
City or county: Glasgow
Country: Scotland
Status: B listed
Grid ref:
Notes: The present building occupied by the Mechanics' Institution having lately been purchased by the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway Company, for the purpose of extending; their present station and warehouses, have placed the means at the disposal of the Committee of this Institution to erect a new building of more accommodation and better suited to their extended requirements. The site chosen for the new building is much more central and convenient of access than the present, and sufficiently removed from the noise and bustle of the great thoroughfares of the City. It is situate on the north side of Bath-street, between Renfield-street and West Nile-street; the ground. which is a rectangle, has a frontage along Bath-street of 60 feet, and the same along Bath Lane on the back, with a depth of 90 feet 2 inches from the building line of the street to the lane, as also an area feet wide along the street.

The new building will consist of four floors above the level of the street and a basement - the top floor being a high attic, lighted from the roof. In the basement floor are the keeper's house, water closet accommodations, heating chamber, and two large rooms which may be used as stores. On the ground floor, in the middle of the front to Bath-street, is the entrance door, leading directly to the entrance-hall and the staircase. On the one side of the hall is the committee-room, and on the other the reading-room, each 20 feet by 18 feet 9 inches, and each lighted by two windows in front wall; at the back, and lighted by four windows, in front to the lane, is a large class-room, 25 feet 6 inches by 39 feet 9 inches; there is also on this floor an exit passage to the lane, and between the reading-room and large class-room is placed the library, 42 feet 6 inches by 19 feet 9 inches, which is lighted from the roof; this part between front and back buildings being carried up no further, leaving a large well-hole to light and ventilate the staircase and upper floors. The staircase is in the middle, between the front and back buildings, against the side wall; it is of stone, supported on cast iron columns and beams, and well lighted by windows to the wcll-hole, and also by the roof. The first floor is occupied by two class-rooms to the front, the one 26 feet 6 inches by 30 feet, the other 24 feet 9 inches by 18 feet 9 inches; the laboratory, 27 feet 2 inches by 21 feet 8 inches; and a small hall, 31 feet by 18 feet 3 inches, placed towards the lane; and also a small laboratory and private room, which latter are lighted by windows in well-hole.

The second floor contains to the front an apparatus-room, 36 feet by 20 feet 6 inches, and a class-room, 24 feet 9 inches by 18 feet 9 inches, and to the back the lecture-hall, 35 feet 6 inches by 27 feet 2 inches. Under the gallery, which rises as it recedes from the lecture-table, are situate the lecturer's-room and work-room. This hall occupies the height of two floors, being 27 feet clear ceiling, and has an entrance to back of gallery, from top landing of stair, on a level with the roof-floor. This roof-floor extends over the whole of the front building, and contains one large apartment, lighted from tbe roof. Between the principals it measures 40 feet by 25 feet 6 inches, and will be used either as a museum or as an artistic drawing-room. Its height is 14 feet clear to under side of tie-beams, independent of the space between the dressed principals of roof. The ground and first floors will be 14 feet high clear, and the second floor 13 feet 9 inches high.

The elevation to Bath-street is thoroughly Palladian in character, and of very chaste proportions. The front is divided into five bays, in the centre one of which, on the ground floor, is the arched entrance doorway, covered by a projecting Doric portico of coupled columns, with full entablature and pediment; the cornice of the portico and the frieze, minus the triglyph, with the architrave, are carried along the whole front dividing the facade into two orders. A colonnade of six attached, plain, Ionic columns forms the upper order, which, in its height, embraces two floors, the windows of which are in the intercolumniations, the first-floor windows being lintelled. and those of the second arched, with impost capitals to each, abutting on sides of columns. The entablature of this order, with an unperforated parapet above, complete the elevation. The ground floor is rusticated, and has a height of 19 feet above pavement. The Ionic columns are 20 feet high, and the height of the whole front, from pavement to top of parapet, is 57 feet. The whole front will be executed in the finest white freestone, from Kenmuir or Giffnock quarries, near Glasgow. The estimated cost of the whole works is 4,000. the contracts for which will immediately be accepted, and the works proceeded with. The architect is James Salmon, Esq, of Glasgow, whose design was selected in competition.

It is proposed, we hear, to remove the figure (statue it cannot be called) of "Watt," which at present adorns the parapet of their present Institution, and to place it over their new building in the centre of parapet or attic, but it is to be hoped the Committee will reconsider this matter. Their present figure of " Watt " leaning upon a chimney-pot-like cylinder, may have been all very well for the time when it was executed, but a rapid and long advance has been made in art-education since then, no better proof of which need be cited than the architecture of their proposed new Institution over that of their old one. [Building News 9 March 1860 p180]

Alternative Names

The following alternative names are associated with this building/design:
 NameCurrent name?Notes
Item 1 of 3Assurance Offices  
Item 2 of 3Glasgow Mechanics' Institution  
Item 3 of 3Mechanics' Institute  

Street Addresses

The following street addresses are associated with this building:
 AddressMain entrance?Notes
Item 1 of 238, Bath StreetYes 
Item 2 of 2Sauchiehall LaneYes 


The following date-based events are associated with this building:
 FromToEvent typeNotes
Item 1 of 218601861  
Item 2 of 219071909AdditionGutted and enlarged as insuranceoffices. Top storey added


Design and Construction

The following individuals or organisations have carried out design/construction work. Where architects or practices worked together, matching letters appear beside their names in the Partnership Group column.
 NameRolePartnership GroupFromToNotes
Item 1 of 4James Salmon (senior)Architect 18601861Original building
Item 2 of 4Alexander YoungArchitectB19071909Gutted and enlarged as insurance offices. Top storey added. (see 'Buildings of Scotland') - as assistant
Item 3 of 4Arthur Donald HamiltonArchitectB19071909Gutted and enlarged as insurance offices. Top storey added. (see 'Buildings of Scotland')
Item 4 of 4John H HamiltonArchitectB19071909Gutted and enlarged as insurance offices. Top storey added. (see 'Buildings of Scotland'). Arthur Donald Hamilton responsible, as assistant


The following individuals or organisations have commissioned work on this building/design:
Item 1 of 1Hamilton, J & Sonfor 1907-09 gutting and enlargement as offices


Bibliographic References

The following books contain references to this building:
Item 1 of 1Williamson, Riches, Higgs1990Glasgow (The Buildings of Scotland)  p212

Periodical References

The following periodicals contain references to this building:
 Periodical NameDateEditionPublisherNotes
Item 1 of 3British Architect15 June 1888   
Item 2 of 3Building News9 March 1860  p180
Item 3 of 3RIBA Journal9 November 1935v33London: Royal Institute of British ArchitectsObituary of John Hamilton, p38

Archive References

The following archives hold material relating to this building:
 SourceArchive nameSource catalogue no.Notes
Item 1 of 2Historic Environment ScotlandListed Buildings Register32965 
Item 2 of 2RIBA Archive, Victoria & Albert MuseumRIBA Nomination Papers James Salmon (Senior): F v5 p54, microfiche 88/G5. Arthur D Hamilton: L v24 no 1954


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