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Built 1906-07
Closed 2011
25 Bengal Street, Pollokshaws


Whilst walking in Pollokshaws you may have noticed a beautiful red sandstone building that was the old Sir John Maxwell Primary School. It was built 1906-07 on a site that had been donated by Sir John Maxwell for its predecessor school of the same name.

Unfortunately the grand replacement building was closed in 2011 and has remained empty but did you know that here, between 1908 and 1915, the political activist John Maclean taught courses in Marxism to a rather large class? Did you go to this school? What are your memories?

Get in touch info@sghet.com or in the comments below.

The original Sir John Maxwell School was built after Sir John Maxwell (of Pollok House) gifted the land required to build an industrial school in Pollokshaws in 1854 after the passing of the Education Act of 1872 which meant that charitable education could no longer be provided by The Parish of Eastwood. This allowed local children to carry on accessing free education and it offered different trade lessons to each gender. The goods produced in these trade lessons, alongside vegetables grown, were sold to raise funds for the school.

In 1907 the new school was built at a cost of £16,600. John Hamilton was commissioned to design it and later an extension was designed by David Thomson, after the number of new student enquiries increased drastically.

Hamilton chose to use red sandstone (from stone hewn from the Locharbriggs Quarry in Dumfriesshire) for the building, following on from his previous school designs. Many criticised the use of red sandstone, none more so than Sir Robert Rowand Anderson (architect of Pollokshaws Burgh Hall and Pollok House) as it wasn’t in keeping with the blond sandstone used to give close neighbour Pollokshaws Burgh Hall its Baronial style.

As the land had been gifted by his ancestor, it was fitting that Sir John Stirling Maxwell officially opened the new school on 9th January 1909. You can read more about the Maxwells of Pollok here.

Between 1908 and 1915 the school was also used to teach night classes, including one on Marxist economics by revolutionary socialist John Maclean who was born in Pollokshaws. His anti-war revolutionary activism led to him being arrested for sedition in April 1918 and imprisoned in Peterhead prison in north Aberdeenshire, being released on 3 December 1918 a few weeks after the Armistice.

There is an ongoing active campaign to save the building – which is not listed and the roof of which partially collapsed in 2021 – with a current focus to turn it into the Maxwell Centre for Environmental Change. See: https://www.sirjohnmaxwellschool.com/ and follow them on Facebook and Twitter.

Share your thoughts on the building and memories of the school in the comments below.


Interior pictures by Proj3ct M4yh3m


19 replies added

  1. George Stewart Macnab April 27, 2019 Reply

    My mother Johnann Stewart was born on April 24th, 1898. She married my father William McHaffie Macnab in July of 1920. They emigrated to Montreal, Canada shortly after and raised four boys and one girl. I can recall she often mentioned that she attended Sir John Stirling Maxwell School. Since the school was built between 1906 and 1907 she must have been one of the first students to enroll. My father was born in 1893 and quite possibly attended the same school. Can this be verified.

  2. John mcabney March 18, 2021 Reply

    I attended sir John maxwells school from 1952 till 1955and loved every minute I was so saddened to see how it is now i hope they can find a use for it and not just demolish it I remember mr Gilchrist art. mr Wallace. maths mr buchan pe I was forever getting the strap I was painful (but done me no harm) I have been married for 62 years now and never seen the inside of a police station John mcabney

    • Janet Swan January 19, 2022 Reply

      Trying to trace back my fathers childhood and regarding your comment I wondered if you have ever heard of a George Swan, the dates link up around the same time.

      Many Thanks, Janet Swan

  3. Richard Grant April 4, 2021 Reply

    I attended this school in August 1995 on the very first day that they opened up the Gaelic Unit. I was there from Primary 3 and left at the end of primary 7 to then attend Hillpark Secondary to continue my Gaelic education. Shortly after that, we moved to live on the Isle Of Tiree, where my dad originated. I have fond memories of my time at this school and it was certainly a vast improvement from Milton Bank Primary where I was from P1-P2!

    • Emma McGovern March 9, 2022 Reply

      Richard, I think you got your dates wrong, it wasn’t 1995. You were in my sister’s class. I left Sir John’s for Hillpark in 1992. My mum was Mrs Byrne, she was a teacher at Sir John’s.

      • Fiona Grant November 26, 2022 Reply

        Hi Emma, were you in my class? Or Stuart’s? How sad to see the school like this, I’d love to help save it.

    • Gary Johnson August 3, 2023 Reply

      Gaelic unit was there well before 1995 I left in 1988 and the gaelic unit was there at that time

  4. Tom Fraser June 30, 2021 Reply

    I began my schooling at the school on 1949/50 and finished on 1959 being the Dux Pupil of the school. I was at that time also School Captain and school athletics champion. I was born in Bradford on Avon Wiltshire and my father brought our family to live in Pollokshaws. Although I now live in Fife I have never forgot my time at the school. Sorry to see the way it has been left to decompose.

  5. Ian August 17, 2021 Reply

    Hi I’m just framing my Great Grandmother’s sampler. This was embroidered in 1882. Her maiden name was Margaret Hamilton. She married Jim Rankin. My mother’s name was May and she married my father Henry Palmer. My Grandmother’s teacher was Agnes Maconechie and the Headmaster was David R Kirkwood. The sampler has not fared too well but I will look after it to pass on.
    Most of Margaret’s family emigrated to NZ around 1923

  6. Catherine Mullen September 24, 2021 Reply

    I have a question I know it’s a beautiful building but it’s going to pieces there’s trees growing out of the building if the community want to save the building why don’t they get together and tidy the ground what happens is the building left to rot and it’s a shame because it is a beautiful building

  7. barry jackson December 1, 2021 Reply

    David McColl attended this school between 1935 and 1945

  8. Anne Garland January 6, 2023 Reply

    I attended the school from 1955 to 1958 and had happy memories.

  9. William McCarron August 11, 2023 Reply

    I attended the Gaelic Medium Unit from 1987-1989. The school was a lovely building and I can still smell the scent of brasso and polish from the fixtures when I think about it. It’s sad to see the state of the building today. Hopefully it can be saved and converted for another purpose.

  10. John Slater September 15, 2023 Reply

    Tragic to see that it has now been demolished. It stood for over 120 years in an area that now has a shortage of school place with all the new houses being built in the area. A bit of foresight could have protected this from going into a state where it was decided It had to be demolished. This coupled with the current RAAC issue in modern school buildings shows the short sightedness of today’s society.

  11. Simon Gallacher January 30, 2024 Reply

    Such a sad loss of a beautiful building.
    I attended the school sometime between 1970 and 72 when it was brought into use after the infant school of St Conval’s (then next to the Church of Saint Mary Immaculate) was condemned for failing a fire inspection. It was a long time ago, and I was only five, so the facts/memories may be muddled.
    I was in P1 at the time, and we were relocated to Sir John Maxwell’s for most of P1 and P2 whilst they built a new infant annexe at St Conval’s.
    I have very fond memories of the school – it seemed so grand and a bit like the ‘big’ school at St Conval’s – and I can honestly say that some of the teachers there are still even more fondly remembered (dear Miss Smith and Mrs Burke). It meant a longer walk to and from school for me, but it also meant I got to pass the (new) library each day, which had previously been located in the Pollokshaws Burgh Hall.
    I took my youngest daughter past the school the last time we were up in Glasgow (summer 2022) and it looked in a terrible state. How awful that it couldn’t be rescued and reused.

  12. Philip Hutchings March 9, 2024 Reply

    My great grandmother was a pupil teacher at this school in the 1880s, in the original building which I assume was on the same site (Bengal Street). Her name was Mary McConnechie Mulholland, her mother was from Renfrewshire and her father was a shoemaker from Dublin. They lived at 3 Rosendale Road. The headmaster was David R Kirkwood. I gleaned this information from a sampler. I have only ever seen pictures of this building but it seems a great pity that it has been allowed to deteriorate to the point where demolition is an option.

  13. Gail Robertson May 22, 2024 Reply

    I attended this school in 1961 before moving to Kinning Park to attend lambhill st infant school

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