IN February1964, ‘Mr Glasgow’ – Jack House, of the Evening Times – cast an eye over some of the fine old school buildings in the city that, in his opinion, deserved to remain.

All of them, he said, had been designed by distinguished Glasgow architects; and even if the careworn tenements that surrounded them were flattened during the clearance of local inhabitants, the school buildings were worth preserving.

He listed them: the Normal School in New City Road, by David Hamilton; Alexander’s, opposite the site of the old Duke Street prison, by John Burnet snr.; Kelvinside Academy, by James Sellars. “The fourth of my schools worth keeping”, he continued, “is a Charles Rennie Mackintosh building, and even Glasgow town councillors have heard of Mr Mackintosh. It is Scotland Street School, and it is one which has been threatened with demolition.

“Scotland Street School was built 60 years ago. It is one of Mackintosh’s best works. Today it is set in a dismal scene – indeed, if you examine the surroundings you’ll realise why I have issued a warning about the Normal School”.

Despite such fears, the Scotland Street School – seen here (main image) in 1964, and (right) earlier this year – is still with us, housing a museum that tells the story of a century of Scottish education. Period classrooms are also on view.

The school was opened in August 1906, and its pupils were the children of families who, in the main, were employed in engineering or shipbuilding on the south side of the city.

“Mackintosh’s last major commission in Glasgow, showing evidence of the genius of the mature architect”, enthuses the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society on its website. “Impressive leaded-glass towers, magnificent tiled entrance hall, unique stonework and mastery of the interplay of light and space.”

The separate entrances for boys and girls were long an item of interest. “Why those doors marked ‘Boys’ and ‘Girls’, and those double sets of stairs twisting and turning inside the building?”, this paper asked in 1971.

“The [Glasgow] school board were merely obeying the regulations, for the Scotch (not then Scottish) Education Department laid it down that ‘boys and girls should enter by separate stairs and should not mingle until they were under the eye of the teacher in the classroom’. Co-education at one remove!”

Scotland Street closed as a working school in 1979, with just 89 pupils on the roll, but more than £1 million was spent restoring the building during 1990 for use as a museum of education. It has become highly popular, and numerous exhibitions have been staged there.

Many former pupils have discussed their memories online. “Quite a nostalgic visit, myself and three sisters went to Scotland Street School when we stayed in Shields Road,” remarks one person, on Tripadvisor. “Such a beautiful building, not ashamed to say had so many emotions and memories flooding back”.

A Glasgow Museums video on You Tube shows former pupils sitting at their old desks. “The teachers were pretty strict”, says one man. “There was no nonsense. I certainly remember the air-raid shelters in the rear playground”.

Read more: Herald Diary