- Glasgow University
- University Tower

The Scotland Guide
© David Williams


(1864-70, Sir George Gilbert Scott; 1887, J. Oldrid Scott)

Sir George Gilbert Scott designed the university`s Main Buildings and he planned a lead-covered spire for the tower but died before it was completed. His son then took over the work and he designed this more open structure which has an observation platform giving superb views.

This is one of Glasgow`s most important landmarks as it is 85m (278 feet) high and is easily spotted from most parts of the city. Above the main doorway (which is decorated with carved thistles) are two shields: one has a bull for Bishop Turnbull and the date 1451; the other has three shells (for the Marquis of Montrose, who was the Chancellor in 1870) and the date 1870. Farther above, a plaque carries the university`s badge (which is essentially the elements of the city`s coat of arms with a mace, an open book and the university`s motto Via, Veritas, Vita (`The Way, the Truth, the Life`). It is possible to climb the tower, weather permitting.

Inside the tower`s main door is a passageway with a wonderful series of Gothic archways which give this space the feel of an extremely ancient institution. On the right is a marble plaque (from the Blackfriars` churchyard in the High Street) dedicated to Thomas Reid (1720-96), Professor of Moral Philosophy in the Old College from 1764 to 1796. On the other side of the passageway is a sandstone plaque on which is the university`s badge and the words University of Glasgow Founded 1451. This was brought here from High Street where the Old College was sited. After the university moved from there to Gilmorehill this plaque was erected on the old site and in the 1990s it was saved when the land became a huge car park. The passageway narrows at the end (where there is a doorway) and at the base of the pillars on either side are brass plaques commemorating the laying of two foundation stones on 8 October 1868. That on the left was laid by Alexandra, Princess of Wales and that on the right by Edward, Prince of Wales.

This article is based on the guidebook "The Glasgow Guide".

The University Tower stands at the front of the Main Buildings and just above the main entrance.

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