Remembering the Old College


A picture of a courtyard and stairway from the original Glasgow University campus.  Academics and their families depicted in period dress. GLAHA:42122, The University of Glasgow moved from the Old College site on High Street to the Gilmorehill campus in 1870.  However, this did not mean that the Old College and its importance to the university’s history was forgotten.  Wooden objects made from parts of the Old College buildings, and photography books showing images of the campus, provided a visual and tangible link to the former site long after its demolition. 

My project will examine The Hunterian’s collection of these fascinating wooden objects, which includes:

  • a cup made from wood from the Fore Hall
  • a box made from oak from the Old Senate Room
  • an eggcup made from roof rafters
  • a walking stick.  


Old College commemoration books from the University Archive, such as University of Glasgow Old and New, have been central to my exploration, allowing me to provide a visual link between the objects and the place they came from. I kept a blog detailing the discoveries of my project and encouraging people to think about objects they might own which were made from buildings.  I gave talks and tours of the Gilmorehill campus, exploring its links to the Old College site. 

The Lid of a box carved from the timbers of the Old College. Decorated with carving of the GU crest and the words: Through my research and these events, I hope to increase awareness of the Old College’s history and the resources available in the Hunterian and University Archive collections. I also hope that the project will encourage students, staff and visitors to think about the ways in which the university preserved its history and identity during the transition between buildings – a discussion of particular relevance during the university’s expansion into the Western Infirmary site


Ruth Turner, PhD in History, 2017