Saturday, 24 May 2014

Glasgow School of Art archives saved - but library destroyed

Muriel Gray has released a statement on behalf of the Glasgow School of Art, describing the damage caused by yesterday's shocking fire in the city centre. Obviously many students will be devastated to lose work, which I truly sympathise with, having been an art college student myself many moons ago, but included in the statement is detail concerning the school's historic record:

"Bad news first is that we have lost the iconic and unique Mackintosh library. This is an enormous blow and we are understandable devastated.

But the most amazing, almost miraculous news is that the majority of the building is still intact. Due to one of the most astonishingly intelligent and professional pieces of strategy by the fire services, they succeeded in protecting the vast majority of the building, apparently by forming a human wall of fire-fighters up the west end of the main staircase and containing the fire.

Also after ensuring no lives were in peril they displayed an impressive understanding of the precious nature of the building, and due to their careful and meticulous handling of each developing situation the damage is considerably less than we dreaded. We have run out of words with which to thank them, but the school has most certainly gained a new gallery of heroes.

Tragically many students have lost some or all of their work, but many others have had theirs preserved, and curators and academic staff can expect to be allowed to enter the building in the next few days to try and assess what can be salvaged.

The joy that our archives are safe combines with the delight in seeing most of our beloved building bruised and battered but most certainly not destroyed.

As for the library, Mackintosh was not famous for working in precious materials. It was his vision that was precious and we are confident that we can recreate what was lost as faithfully as possible.

Our main concern right now is the welfare of the students and the impending graduation and everyone is working hard together to achieve the best outcome for all."

The full statement is available at

(With thanks to @earthlamb and @fionahyslop)


Now available for UK research is the new second edition of the best selling Tracing Your Family History on the Internet: A Guide for Family Historians, whilst my new book British and Irish Newspapers is also now out. And FindmyPast - please reinstate the original Scottish census citations on your new site.

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