History of the College

View from our Riverside Campus towards Glasgow city centre

A proud heritage

City of Glasgow College was formed in September 2010 with the merger of three established city colleges:

  • Central College Glasgow.
  • Glasgow Metropolitan College.
  • Glasgow College of Nautical Studies.

These proud institutions had served the people of Glasgow and beyond for over 50 years, welcoming students of all ages from every background and culture, nurturing talent, inspiring confidence and helping them on the road to success. So as we look to the future, let's also reflect on the major landmarks from down the decades:

1950s/60s: Grand Beginnings

1956: Stow College of Hairdressing is founded by the Glasgow Corporation on John Street.

1963: The college moves to Cathedral Street and is renamed Central College of Commerce and Distribution.

1964: The new College of Building is officially opened at North Hanover Street by Labour leader Harold Wilson. Taking four years to build, and also housing the College of Printing, it's one of the first commercial high-rise structures in Glasgow.

1967: Construction of Glasgow College of Nautical Studies begins on the banks of the Clyde. The college will educate and train Merchant Navy personnel from across Strathclyde in various marine disciplines on one site.

1969: Glasgow College of Nautical Studies is formally opened by Admiral of the Fleet, the Earl of Mountbatten, on October 4th. Among the first students are cadets who previously attended the School of Navigation at the Royal College of Science and Technology, the Marine Engineering Department of Stow College and the Communications Department of the Watt Memorial College in Greenock.

1970s: Expanding Horizons

1972: The College of Building and the College of Printing merge to form the Glasgow College of Building and Printing, with 13 floors specialising in design, furniture, creative crafts, building, printing and photography. The College of Building has had a presence on this site since the 1920s.  The college quickly adopts rapid technological advances to become Scotland’s only dedicated print training centre.

1972: A General Studies department is added to Glasgow College of Nautical Studies as it begins to diversify beyond marine courses.

1972: Central College of Commerce and Distribution changes its name to Central College of Commerce. It continues to build and develop an extensive portfolio of courses including business studies, information technology, hair and beauty, legal studies and accountancy.

1973: The Glasgow College of Food Technology opens. As the last city centre college to be built by the Corporation of Glasgow, it fills a void for catering and food manufacturing training. The Food Trades department at Langside College forms the core of the new college, offering courses in hotel management, catering, food science, baking, English and general studies. The college soon enjoys a boom as Scotland’s tourism industry takes off and before long includes other popular courses including hospitality, business, tourism, events and sports.

1973: The Power Plant Practice Department of Springburn College of Engineering is transferred to Glasgow College of Nautical Studies.

1974: Construction begins on a halls of residence as Glasgow College of Nautical Studies continues to enjoy an extensive expansion.

1980s: Bigger and Bolder

1982: Inspired by the new big, bold and bright trends, hair and beauty students at Central College of Commerce get busy recreating the looks of icons such as Debbie Harry and Cyndi Lauper. Teased, permed and mullet hair do’s are complemented by pastel eye make up and heavy eyeliner, making it a decade to be remembered!

1985: In February, the Secretary of State for Scotland announces that the provision of nautical education in Scotland will be centralised at Glasgow College of Nautical Studies. The Navigation department obtains a real–time, full mission simulator and develops into a comprehensive maritime studies provider, embracing ship and fleet management, port operations and maritime law.

1989: Central College of Commerce adopts the former Allan Glen’s Secondary School as a campus. The school, set up in memory of a Glasgow businessman, had also been a fee-paying independent boys' school. The historical link is maintained and, to this day, the site on Cathedral Street is referred to as the Allan Glen’s Campus.

1990s: Changing Days

1992: Glasgow College of Nautical Studies lays the foundations for international partnerships, forging strong relations with the Academy of Maritime Education (AMET) in Chennai, India. The college will continue to thrive thought the 1990s, offering new courses in subjects including management, sport, drama, beauty therapy, child care and computing. The college also experiences a dramatic gender shift from its original all-male student body, moving on from its 95% male staff and lone female toilet!

1994: The main campus at Central College of Commerce is renamed in memory of Charles Oakley, a writer and trade unionist who chaired the college board.

1995: A new extension to the Faculty of Engineering is built at Glasgow College of Nautical Studies.

1997: The photography department at Glasgow College of Building & Printing changes forever with the rise of the digital camera. However, the college remains strong and embraces the latest technology, with new facilities including ICT suites, a broadcast standard TV studio, and a campus radio station.

1998: Brian Wilson, Minister for Education and Industry, officially opens the Adelphi Centre at Glasgow College of Nautical Studies. This new building houses the faculty of Care and Social Science, as well as providing flexible learning space for the local community.

2000s: Onwards and Upwards

2000: Central College of Commerce expands with the opening of the Central Business Learning Zone.

2002: The towering College of Building and Printing, and nearby Central College of Commerce, are awarded B-listed status by Historic Scotland, protecting them from future development. Both buildings were designed by Glasgow firm Wylie, Shanks & Partners in the early 1960s. Their unusual bulbous, porthole-pierced roofs were inspired by Le Corbusier's Unitè d’Habitation at Marseille and were originally used as gyms.

2004: On October 4th, 35 years of nautical education is celebrated with the opening of the new £1.8million ‘Gateway’ building at Glasgow College of Nautical Studies. The new facility aims to train extra recruits for the Merchant Navy, while providing greater access to students with disabilities. Historic Scotland says: “The buildings are prominent landmarks on the city centre skyline and their significance can be justifiably considered alongside a limited international cast, including Gio Ponti’s Pirelli Tower in Milan.”

2005: Glasgow Metropolitan College opens its doors as the city's largest college, housing over 15,000 students and 500 staff across five campuses. Incorporating the College of Building & Printing and the College of Food Technology, ‘The Met’ brings together two of Scotland’s most successful further education providers, offering a broad curriculum that includes construction, design, media, food, hospitality, sport and tourism.

2006: Central College of Commerce is revamped and relaunches as Central College Glasgow.

2010s: Dawning of a New Era

2010: Central College Glasgow, Glasgow Metropolitan College, and Glasgow College of Nautical Studies merge to form the dynamic new City of Glasgow College. Principal and CEO Paul Little says: "Today’s launch marks a historic milestone for City of Glasgow College, the youngest and largest college in Scotland. We are here together to celebrate the unveiling of our new identity, and to share our exciting new vision for the college."