Charles Rennie Mackintosh

Scotland Street Public School was designed by the celebrated Glasgow architect, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, between 1903 and 1906 for the School Board of Glasgow. Since 1873, the School Board of Glasgow had been responsible for providing education and school buildings for all children in the city between the ages of five and thirteen.

When Mackintosh was appointed architect in June 1903, he was already working on the construction of some of the most significant projects in his career, including The Willow Tea Rooms on Sauchiehall Street and The Hill House in Helensburgh.  Scotland Street was Mackintosh’s second public school - his first was The Martyrs’ Public School in Townhead, 1895.

Mackintosh had to include the standard school requirements of the time into his design: separate playgrounds, outside toilets, entrances and staircases for girls, boys and infants; teachers’ rooms on each floor; a drill hall and electric lighting. He had to allow accommodation for 1250 pupils and include a cookery room in his design.  Classrooms were to be stepped and allow for a maximum of 66 pupils.  Infant classrooms were to be located on the ground floor and senior years on the top floor.  Mackintosh designed the school around a corridor system, allowing the rear - south facing - wall to be a bank of windows, letting maximum sunlight and solar heat into the classrooms.

Mackintosh produced two sets of drawings for the school.  The first set he passed for approval by the School Board. The second set - with a more elaborate decorative scheme – he issued direct to the Clerk of Works for building work to start in December 1904. It was not until November 1905 that the Board discovered that significant changes in the design of the tiling scheme, windows, doors, stair railings and drill hall were being made. After much heated correspondence, Mackintosh revised his designs and the school was completed to the Board’s wishes, in the summer of 1906. The school cost a total of £34,219 1s 1d - Mackintosh was £1,500 over budget!

Our museum includes a Mackintosh room where you can study the architect’s designs for the building.

His style in the early 1900’s, along with his wife and friends who were known as “The Four”, is now inextricably linked with Glasgow, with examples of his work across the city. 

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