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  • Writer's pictureMary Allen

150 years of St Aloysius' College, Glasgow

This September marks the 150th anniversary of St Aloysius' College at Garnethill, Glasgow.

The Society of Jesus was first approached with the idea of running a parish and establishing a school for the education of boys in Glasgow in 1859. In that same year, they took over the running of the parish of St Joseph in North Woodside Road and were also offered a house on Charlotte Street in the Bridgetown area of the city which would serve as the intended school. However in the early 1860s, the Society purchased land in the Garnethill district, where the Church of St Aloysius stands today, and in 1866 the ‘Collegiate School’, as it was then known, on Dalhousie Street was purchased. Today this is still the site of the main College building, and runs from Dalhousie Street to Scott Street. With regard to the Church, Fr William Kay SJ gave instructions for a mission at St Aloysius to be founded which was distinct from St Joseph’s. He constructed a large building of iron and glass on what was then the school’s play area which became known as ‘Fr Kay’s Railway Shed’. This building served as the parish church until the opening of the new church in Rose Street some 40 years later.

When the school opened in Garnethill, there were 70 pupils on the school roll, but numbers began to increase significantly during the 1870s, thanks to Head Master Francis Bacon SJ. The number of pupils continued to grow during the early 1900s, with the College also achieving significant success in public examinations, and by the end of Fr Eric Hanson SJ’s tenure, the roll had reached 500 pupils. After the Second World War, the Junior School was relocated which allowed its numbers to double, whilst numbers and facilities continued to improve in the Secondary School. The College became fully independent during the 1970s and in 1979 took the decision to accept girls.

The May 1950 issue of the St Aloysius College Magazine gives a snapshot of the school in an illustrated survey of that Holy Year. It was a grant aided secondary school with fees of £12 a year for the Primary Department and £15 a year for the Secondary. The College was governed by the Reverend Father Rector, who was also the parish priest of the Church of St Aloysius. The College was divided into the Primary and Secondary Departments, the Primary being housed in the oldest part of the College, preparing 8-11 year olds for a grammar school education in the Secondary Department (11-18 years). The subjects studied included music, art, science, physical education, geography, arithmetic and Latin.

The British Jesuit Archives holds, among other material, original correspondence regarding the building of the Church and College, plans, photographs and school magazines. Please contact us if you are interested in the history of St Aloysius' and would like further information or if you would like to make an appointment to visit the Archives.

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