New display celebrates 150 years of the Gilbert Scott building

Gilbert Scott display in the Hunterian MuseumA fascinating new Hunterian display celebrates 150 years of the University of Glasgow’s Gilbert Scott building – home to the Hunterian Museum.

The display in the Hunterian Museum main hall tells the story of the workmen who built the Gilbert Scott building on the University’s Gilmorehill Campus. And thanks to some extraordinary material from the University's Library and Archives Services, it identifies a number of the workmen by name.

In November 1870, the University of Glasgow left its historic home in the High Street and moved into the magnificent Gothic Revival building it occupies today. The new building at Gilmorehill was designed by George Gilbert Scott (1811–78), one of the leading English architects of the day. The contractor who carried out his design was John Thompson of Peterborough (1824–98).

Thompson had a reputation as a benevolent employer and in March 1869, to mark his 45th birthday, the University workmen presented him with a gold watch, chain and pencil case. This testimonial was accompanied by an elaborate ‘address’, which put into words the subscribers’ gratitude. Its painted border echoes the Gothic architecture of Scott’s building and the decoration includes thistles, roses and shamrocks, reflecting the diverse origins of the workforce. At the bottom is a sixteen-pointed star with a photograph of Scott’s design at its centre and inscribed in the points of the star are 913 names of Thompson’s employees.

The display in the Hunterian Museum features a facsimile of the 'address' given to Thompson alongside a number of short employee biographies. It also includes a commemorative medal produced to mark the occasion of the laying of the foundation stone by the Prince and Princess of Wales on 8 October 1868.

Admission to the Hunterian Museum is free and by pre-booked timed ticket. Open Tuesday to Saturday 10am – 4pm and Sunday 11am – 4pm.


First published: 7 November 2020

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