Statement of Special Interest
The Corinthian Club (former Sheriff Court), is an outstanding example of a mid-late 19th century commercial building. The street elevations are largely unchanged since they were built in 1853-55 and 1876-79 respectively by three of Glasgow's preeminent architects, James Salmon, John Burnet and his son John James Burnet. Standing separated from its neighbours, the high quality of the design of the exterior elevations, the excellent detailing with important sculptural elements all contribute to its significant streetscape presence in the heart of Glasgow's Merchant City.
Age and Rarity
The Corinthian Club building evolved over many years. The initial building on this site was the Virginia (or Buchanan) Mansion House facing southwards down Virginia Street and dating from about 1752. It was rebuilt as a branch of the Glasgow and Ship Bank in 1841. The Glasgow and Ship Bank merged with the Union Bank in 1843. Ten years later a number of alterations and additions were made by James Salmon including the large new telling room with glass cupola at the south side of the building and a new entrance from Virginia Place. In 1876-79 another phase of alterations again changed its appearance. An extension was made to the east and the building was re-fronted.
The building was acquired as a headquarters for Lanark County Council in 1930 and the County Architect, John Stewart of Motherwell made alterations in 1933. In 1964 it was purchased by the Court House Commissioners for use as additional sheriff court accommodation. The main courtroom was located in the former bullion store. It not only served as an overflow for the Sheriff Court (housed in the County Buildings), but also for the High Court housed in the Saltmarket Buildings and was even used as a Court of Session. Alterations were also undertaken in the 1990s when it was converted to a club. Ordnance Survey maps show the footprint of the building is unchanged since the 1870s.
Banks are not a rare building type and the proliferation of different banking companies means that there are numerous examples in small burghs to large cities across Scotland. The classical style was favoured for this building type to convey a sense of monumentality and also the secular function of the banking institution. There are many fine banks throughout Glasgow and elsewhere. However what is unusual about this building is that it was adapted from a bank to offices, then to court accommodation and finally to a casino and club in the late 20th century. Each phase required some changes but the overall appearance has not changed significantly since 1879. Although a number of county buildings were adapted for court use when the adjacent court house required additional accommodation it is rare to find a court house adapted from an entirely different type of building. The monumentality of the classical architecture of banks is appropriate for the status of court buildings, and there are two former banks in Scotland that has been adapted into a court building: this example in Glasgow and the former Aberdeen Bank on Castle Street, Aberdeen (built in 1801) (LB20174).
The Corinthian Club (former Sheriff Court) is an outstanding example of a mid-late 19th century commercial building, in terms of the high quality of the designs of various elements of this building and the workmanship.
Architectural or Historic Interest
Images on the owner's website indicate that the main features of the three main areas which were inserted in the 1850s and 1870s are still largely intact and are of outstanding quality: the hall and stair, the former rear telling room and the former bullion room and adjacent saloon for clerks.
The telling room (now the Tellers Bar and Brasserie) which was added in 1853-55 was designed by James Salmon. The dominant features are the highly elaborate plasterwork of the cornice and coved area of the ceiling and the large glazed hemispherical cupola with drum ventilator. The plasterwork, the overall design of which was presumably by Salmon, was executed by James Steel whose name frequently appears in connection with major buildings in Glasgow at this time (for example the New Club in West George Street in the 1880s). The unusual triplicated dwarf pilasters may have been derived from similar details in the saloon at Devonshire House in London, the plasterwork there being carried out by the well-known plasterer J G Grace. The wall treatment of the room is characterised by the 'Roman Corinthian' pilasters, flanking bays with segmental arched pediments or round headed panels. It is lit by triple windows on the south side (the original glass here was by James Ballantine and is not known to survive).
The sculpture on the coved part of the ceiling is noteworthy. It was commissioned from John Thomas of London (1813-62) who was employed elsewhere in Glasgow. There are four large allegorical sculpted figures in the angles of the coved ceiling representing four continents and three groups of figures above the south window representing Commerce, the Arts and Sciences and Agriculture. The background to these bas reliefs was originally gold which was extremely unusual.
The second noteworthy interior is the hall and staircase which were designed by John Burnet (the plans that appear on the large scale Ordnance Survey map of 1857 show two staircases but these were replaced by one larger stair by Burnet when he made his additions in the 1870s). The decorative scheme echoes that of the telling hall with Corinthian pilasters between round-arched bays. There is a fine coffered ceiling and decorative plasterwork. The carved timber balustrade of the staircase is also noteworthy.
The third area of particular interest is the former bullion store (now the casino) with barrel vault. The glazing in the vault was a later addition as the Glasgow Herald report at the opening of the new building describes it as 'dark'. The well-detailed cornices and elaborate Corinthian columns and pilasters again echo the earlier Salmon telling room. The roundels with reliefs at the south end were by the carvers J and G Mossman. The columns at the west side of the building separated it off from the saloon for the clerks. Court C was located in this area of the building during its use as a court house.
Because this building has been developed incrementally through the 19th century, the plan does not conform to a standard pattern, other than during its time as a bank the telling room was inserted at the rear which is a similar arrangement to Peddie and Kinnear's rear telling room at the Royal Bank of Scotland in St Andrew Square, Edinburgh.
Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality
This is an outstanding building because of the high quality of the work by three of Glasgow's foremost architects, David Hamilton (1768-1843), James Salmon (1805-1888) and John Burnet Senior (1814-1901).
The first building on this site, the Virginia or Buchanan Mansion, built about 1752 has been completely enveloped by subsequent alterations. As regards the 1841 initial bank building by David Hamilton, only the northwest corner of this bank now remains. The chief feature of this building was a giant Roman-Doric portico which was later relocated to the Citizen's Theatre but no longer survives. Six stone figures sculpted by John Mossman stood on the balustrade and these have been retained and re-used (see below).
Radical alterations were made to the Hamilton building in 1853 when James Salmon was employed by the directors of the bank to design the addition of the telling room at the rear and the new Virginia Place façade. Salmon had started practice in Glasgow in the late 1830s and had been employed several times by the Union Bank before securing this commission. His practice was very busy and undertook a wide range of work including several more commercial buildings for other banks later in his career.
James Salmon's Virginia Place elevation is still extant. It faces directly down Virginia Street. The semi-circular tympana over the central bays contain sculpture by John Mossman with the Union Bank's monogram above set into the balustrade. The building was highly acclaimed at the time. The 'Glasgow Herald' stated in 1855 that that if offered 'the most satisfactory evidence that the architects of Glasgow possess as great devotion to art as a degree of artistic attainments, as any class of professional men in the United Kingdom'.
In 1876-79 John Burnet was employed to enlarge the building and rearrange some interior spaces. John Burnet had commenced practice in the 1840s and soon built up a large client base among the merchants and shipowners of Glasgow. In his later years he was responsible for three of the city's most important buildings: the Clydesdale Bank (1867) and the Merchants' House (1875) both in West George Street and the reconstruction of this building for the Union Bank of Scotland.
Burnet's work consisted of refronting the building (removing the David Hamilton portico) creating a larger entrance hall and adding the bullion store and saloon for clerks working in the secretary's and discount departments as well as a range of other new offices. The new elevation to Ingram Street is of high architectural quality and is a strong composition. It provoked favourable comments at the time it was built: 'the new front which is one of the most striking architectural features of a neighbourhood particularly rich in fine buildings is Italian in general design…' (Glasgow Herald, 1879, p.6). The report also notes that the granite on the elevation is the first instance of this material being used in Glasgow endowing the building with 'pleasant variety'. As with Salmon's Virginia Place façade, the sculptural details are significant. The six stone figures from the David Hamilton building were reused between the columns at second floor and two new groups added at each outer bay. The new groups and other sculptural details such as the arms of Glasgow and Edinburgh were carved by J and G Mossman.
The building is given further significance by the fact that John James Burnet, John Burnet's preeminent son, may have had a hand in the design. Some exterior details which are French in inspiration – for example the consoles of the doorcase - may have been designed by the younger Burnet who studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts from 1871-76. This is given credence by the fact that the younger Burnet lists this as one of his works in more than one publication. Overall the façade of the building was probably influenced by C R Cockerell's Liverpool and London Insurance office in Liverpool, completed in 1855.
It occupies a large prominent site in the heart of Glasgow's Merchant City, the block stretching between Ingram Street at the front and Virginia Place at the rear, the rear elevation looking down Virginia Street. Virginia Place runs up each side of the building so that it is physically detached from its neighbours. It has considerable streetscape presence and stands out even though it is in close proximity to a number of other good commercial buildings in Ingram Street (such as David Hamilton's Hutcheson's Hospital and the younger Burnet's Saving Bank).
There are no known regional variations.
Close Historical Associations
There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2016).
Statutory address and listed building record revised in 2017 as part of the Former Scottish Courts Listing Review 2014-16. Previously listed as '191 Ingram Street, Lanarkshire House, Corinthian (former Sheriff Court and Justice of the Peace Court'.