St Peter's College, Cardross (Gillespie, Kidd and Coia)

Scope and Content

Job files, images and drawings related to project.

Administrative / Biographical History

The Seminary of St Peter's at Cardross accommodated 100 student-priests and was build adjacent to the existing Victorian Kilmahew House, which was converted to provide all necessary professorial accommodation. The new group of buildings was dominated by a stepped four storey block housing the Chapel and Refectory which were enfolded by a double range of bed-sitting rooms on the three upper floors. At right angles to the main block was another unit which incorporated four lecture rooms, a large library and the students' sitting and recreation spaces. This block was dramatically cantilevered over the existing retaining wall of the terrace. In addition, there was a kitchen and servery, serving both the old and the new blocks and the small convent which completed the project.

The scheme owed its form to the desire to preserve the existing fine house and site in its least disturbed form and also to the intention of giving expression to the unity of the student-priest's life by integrating, Chapel, Refectory and students' rooms in one impressive composition. The existing site had a slope, which was exploited to provide a cloister under the Chapel and an entry into the courtyard formed by the new buildings and the old. An existing spring was utilized to form a pool at the entrance.

To achieve the best relationship between the old and new buildings the materials employed internally and externally in the new blocks were restricted, with a strong emphasis on the use of exposed reinforced concrete, varnished and painted timber and plaster. The strongly modelled precast facing elements had an exposed aggregate specially chosen with the intention of harmonising with the mellowed stone wall of Kilmahew House. Heating was by warm air and hot water under floor panels.

Although the erection of the new buildings necessitated considerable site works and included the removal of some trees, it was the aim of the design, by careful preservation of existing features to maintain and possibly enhance the exceptionally impressive Victorian landscaping of the estate.

Since its completion St Peter’s Seminary has been critically received and its status as an important example of modern architecture has grown over the years. The building was listed category B in 1971 and was elevated to category A in 1992.

The building, however, was never fully occupied, the result of falling numbers of priests and changing attitudes to their training; only half full on completion, by 1979 there were only 21 trainee priests, and the seminary finally closed in 1980. Whilst the building had a number of uses throughout the 1980s it fell prey to severe neglect and vandalism, and today it can best be described as a ruin. All the fixtures and fittings, internal and external walls, roof finishes and rooflights are gone, and the buildings have even suffered the loss of Kilmahew House, gutted by fire in 1995 and subsequently demolished.


The material has been arranged using original Gillespie Kidd and Coia project reference codes.

Access Information

Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections are open for research by appointment.


Catalogued by Tracy Wilkinson, GKC Project Archivist

Conditions Governing Use

Application for permission to quote should be sent to the Glasgow School of Art Archivist.

Reproduction subject to usual conditions: educational use and condition of documents.

Appraisal Information

This material has been appraised in line with Glasgow School of Art Archives and Collections standard procedures.

Geographical Names