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The Glasgow School of Cookery was established in 1875 and opened to the public on 21 February 1876. In 1908, the Glasgow School of Cookery amalgamated with the West End School of Cookery, Glasgow, to form a Scottish central institution called the Glasgow and West of Scotland College of Domestic Science (Incorporated), later named The Queen’s College, Glasgow.
A committee was appointed in 1875 to establish a Glasgow School of Cookery with the Rev Frederick Lockhart Robertson (1827-1892) of St Andrews Church, Glasgow, as the Convener and key instigator, and a number of prominent citizens as Directors. The aim of the school was to educate young working class women in culinary skills as a contribution to the improvement of family life among lower income groups. Funding to help establish the School was raised by public subscription and its first premises were opened at The Albert Hall, 285 Bath Street, Glasgow.
Grace Chalmers Paterson (1843-1925) was the first Principal of the School and driving force behind the Glasgow School of Cookery. She was an active campaigner for education and womens’ issues who fought to introduce cookery and domestic economy to the teaching curriculum of Scottish schools, and was one of the first two women elected to the Glasgow School Board in 1885. She was succeeded as Principal by Ella (Isabella Scott) Glaister (1879-1954) in March 1908, although she still remained active within the school until June of that year.
Initially the School offered classes in superior cookery, plain cookery and cookery for the working classes. Evening classes for working class women were subsidised by the daytime courses aimed at more affluent women but they were not well attended, despite eventually being offered for free. Emphasis changed to teaching of domestic subjects within the Board Schools and in taking classes out to towns and villages around Glasgow. In 1876, with a change in regulations allowing inclusion of cookery classes on School Board expenditure, the demand for teacher training increased and the School acquired further premises at 65 Greendyke Street and 151 George Street, Glasgow. That year the Glasgow School, along with representatives from Edinburgh, Scotland; Liverpool and Leeds, England, formed themselves into the Northern Union of Training Schools of Cookery to institute uniform standards and common examinations for teachers of cookery. This body became known as The National Council for Domestic Studies and all the schools initially involved were subsequently recognised as training centres by the education departments.
In 1888, the Glasgow School of Cookery managed a tearoom at the Glasgow International Exhibition (2 May 1888-10 November 1888) which provided enough profits to help with the running of the school for some years to come. New premises were leased that year at 86 Bath Street, the adjacent premises in 1899 and later premises at 504 Sauchiehall Street and 1 Victoria Crescent, Glasgow.
Over time the syllabus also expanded to include teachers’ diplomas in cookery, laundry, housewifery, dressmaking, needlework and millinery, along with certificates in high-class cookery, professional cookery and housewifery.
Prior to amalgamation in 1908 the School was known as the Glasgow Training School of Cookery and Domestic Economy.