Glasgow’s Stained Glass: Colour & Light

The name “stained” glass, is a misnomer which refers to a process originating in 14th century Britain. Previously, Silver Nitrate was used on glass as a yellow pigment. Unlike other colours, when applied it soaked right into the glass itself, thereby creating a permanent yellow stain.

All stained glass featured in this exhibition dates mainly from the 19th and 20th centuries onwards. Unfortunately, earlier examples of this fragile art form are rare. Most windows dating from the 16th century and before were destroyed through Reformation violence, or by centuries of Scottish weather and neglect. Colourful glass had no place in the newly reformed Scottish Kirk, so it was not until the 19th century that the art of Stained Glass in Scotland once again began to flourish. Stained glass windows added an authentic medieval touch to buildings being designed in the fashionable new Gothic Revival style, but over the decades various art movements have provided inspiration for stained glass artists. Post-war, memorial windows dominated, but after 1918 the exploration of personal and contemporary style became predominant. Artists like Douglas

Strachan and Crear McCartney emerged, proving that this ancient art from was both modern and relevant. Now that we are paying closer attention to our built heritage than ever before, we should not neglect our stained glass. Its inclusion in a building istransformative,andithasamagical quality which makes it deserving of our attention.

This exhibition celebrated not only Glasgow’s stained glass, but our attempt to preserve it digitally. An ambitious three month project to create an online database of stained glass began in September 2014, in conjunction with RCAHMS and the Scottish Stained Glass Trust.

This database, though small, will grow over time, providing researchers, artists, and students all over the world with a wonderful new resource. One day, we hope that all of Scotland’s stained glass will be catalogued, and we see this project as the beginning of this journey.


Find the database at:

Download the Glasgow’s Stained Glass: Colour & Light exhibition booklet.

All content and photographs by Rachael Purse MA (Hons) MSc.


City Portals: A Heritage Project for Schools

Where will your portal take you?

In Glasgow, some of the most striking features of our built environment often go unnoticed due to their structural function. Entrances, including doorways, archways and gateways, are not normally recognised for their aesthetic qualities but pupils from four Glasgow secondary schools, Hyndland Secondary, loch end Community High School, St. Mungo’s Academy and St. Thomas Aquinas Secondary School, were sent out on a mission to photograph entrances in a unique and striking way!

The basic brief was used as springboard to help the participants to improve their photographic skills, while actively engaging with their environment. The pupils were encouraged to focus on the form and shape of different entrances, and to look out for specific details and features. Three photographs from each school were chosen to go on display in a public exhibition at Glasgow City Heritage Trust.

The Project took place from May to June 2014 with the winning images being exhibited from October to December 2014.

Victorian & Edwardian Swimming Baths of Glasgow

In the 19th century private baths clubs were established as places to relax for Glasgow’s middle-class gentlemen. In contrast, the living conditions of the city’s expanding working-class population were poor. The Tenements they lived in were cramped and lacked baths or indoor toilets. The Baths and Wash Houses Act was passed in 1875, to solve these issues. Public baths were more practical than their private counterparts, combining a wash-house or ‘steamie’ with bathing and swimming facilities.

Swimming Baths are a wonderful part of Glasgow’s sporting and social history, and this exhibition celebrated them. These buildings can and should be preserved and given a second life once more at the heart of the community.

All research and content by Rachael Purse, University of Glasgow Postgraduate work-placement in 2013/14.

Looking Up


In Glasgow, some of the most striking features of our historic buildings go unnoticed much of the time, situated well above our heads, outside our line of vision. As part of this project, pupils from four Glasgow schools, Hyndland Secondary, St Aloysius’ Academy, St Mungo’s Academy and Shawlands Academy, took time out to look up, and discovered elements of our built heritage that are normally just out of view. Their photographs capture some of the details that make the city fabric so unique.

The Project

The Looking Up Photographic Project involved pupils from four schools across Glasgow getting out and about amongst the built heritage around their schools and ‘looking up’. They used photography to record interesting details and new perspectives noticed. Historic ironwork, street furniture, old signage, public sculpture and intricate features of the buildings themselves came to life in new ways. Three photographs from each school were chosen to go on display in a public exhibition at Glasgow City Heritage Trust.

We would like to thank:

  • All the pupils and staff who took part in the project
  • Lesley Dunlop, Glasgow City Council

Looking Up Project Co-ordinator: Helen Kendrick, Glasgow City Heritage Trust.