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Listed Building

The legal part of the listing is the address/name of site only. All other information in the record is not statutory.

Justiciary Courts, excluding extension to Mart Street, 212 Saltmarket Street, GlasgowReference: LB32844

Status: Designated


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  • Category: A
  • Date Added: 15/12/1970
  • Last Date Amended: 09/09/2015


  • Local Authority: Glasgow
  • Planning Authority: Glasgow
  • Burgh: Glasgow

National Grid Reference

No information available.


Portico and parts of exterior walls William Stark, 1807-1814; main building to Saltmarket J H Craigie of Clarke and Bell and J H Craigie reconstruction of 1910-1913. 2-storey with sunk basement, 17-bay, rectangular-plan classical court building with large advanced hexastyle Greek Revival portico and slightly advanced outer bays. 1990s addition to rear and side in Mart Street not considered of special interest in listing terms at time of review. Polished ashlar, channelled in some parts. Positioned facing open ground of Glasgow Green. Pedimented and consoled doorcases in bays 4 and 14. Band course, cornice and plain blocking course; triglyph frieze to end and centre bays.

3-pane glazing to ground floor (2-pane lower sash and single upper) and 2 pane glazing on first floor in timber sash and case windows. Corniced end stacks, slate roofs.

The interior, seen in 2014, has an imposing early 20th century Edwardian classical decorative scheme. Deep dentilled cornices. Heavy timber doorcases, screens and furnishings. Ionic scagiola columns and pilasters to vestibule and inner and outer halls. Flaxmanesque plaster panels to inner hall. North and south matching courtrooms with heavy timber doorcases, balcony fronts and furnishings and Ionic pilasters and columns. Judges' benches in timber panelled recesses with coved celings and surmounted by deep dentilled cornice supporting short paired pilasters. Staircases with decorative Baroque revival detailed ironwork.

Low boundary walls with rounded cope and iron railings, probably dating from the 1910-13 reconstruction.

Statement of Special Interest

The Justiciary Court (or High Court Justiciary) is a significant example of civic architecture and is of outstanding importance because of its fine Greek Revival design, in particular the portico, conceived by the eminent Glasgow architect William Stark. The giant Greek Doric portico, outstanding because of its early date and quality of design, was the second largest in Britain at the time it was built and just post-dates Sir Robert Smirke's portico on the Convent Garden Theatre in London. J H Craigie, of the prolific and long-running Glasgow practice Clarke and Bell and J H Craigie, was responsible for the design of the 1910-13 reconstruction of the building and for the outstanding interior decorative scheme. The imposing scale of the building and its prominent position on one of Glasgow's arterial routes opposite Glasgow Green give it significant streetscape presence. The massive portico of the 1807-14 building was designed to convey an unambiguous sense of gravitas to those entering and this was preserved in the 1910-13 reconstruction. Court houses have typically been altered to accommodate changes in the judicial system but the building, as reconstructed in the early 20th century, has remained largely complete since this date.

The original building by Stark replaced the old tolbooth. It originally accommodated 'a new jail, County Hall, Council Chambers, Clerks' Chambers and other conveniences' and the cost of the building was met by the Corporation of Glasgow. The building was remodelled exclusively as law courts in 1845 when the municipal offices moved out. It was completely reconstructed for national judicial use in 1910-13.

The 1807-14 building was designed by the eminent and highly respected architect William Stark. William Stark (1770-1813) was recognised during his lifetime as an architect of unusual ability. Walter Scott described him as a 'young man of exquisite taste who must rise very high in his profession' and employed him to build a cottage near the Tweed at Abbotsford although the work was not executed. The Glasgow building is also important because Stark's other large public commissions in the city have been lost. Stark died young so his remaining oeuvre is particularly valuable.

James Hoey Craigie (1870-1930) of Clarke and Bell and J H Craigie who was responsible for this Jusiticary Buildings job joined the practice as a principal assistant in 1895 and was elevated to partner in 1905. The practice had been established in Glasgow in the 1840s and rapidly attained a place in the foremost rank of Scottish architects. The practice continued with various changes of partners through the remainder of the 19th century and was still a force to be reckoned with by the time Craigie joined it. He was responsible for some high profile jobs even before becoming a partner – such as the reconstruction of the former Council Chambers and Municipal Buildings on Ingram Street as Sheriff Courts.

The joiner responsible for the fine interior woodwork work was John Cochrane (1856-1930). Cochrane fitted the woodwork in many major buildings in Glasgow (such as the Mitchell Library and the Waterloo Street Post Office) and elsewhere in Scotland (Gleneagles Hotel) from the time he opened business in the 1880s until his death in 1930. The firm continued into the 1980s.

The plasterwork in the inner hall friezes and that in the courtrooms, with Ionic columns and pilasters, the coffered areas behind the benches and moulded cornices and friezes, is all particularly noteworthy. No craftsman has yet been identified for the plasterwork. The moulded plaster bas-reliefs in the inner hall were preserved from the old building and may date from the mid-19th century.

The development of the court house as a building type in Scotland follows the history of the Scottish legal system and wider government reforms. The majority of purpose-built court houses were constructed in the 19th century as by this time there was an increase in the separation of civic, administrative and penal functions into separate civic and institutional buildings, and the resultant surge of public building was promoted by new institutional bodies. The introduction of the Sheriff Court Houses (Scotland) Act of 1860 gave a major impetus to the increase and improvement of court accommodation and the provision of central funding was followed by the most active period of sheriff court house construction in the history of the Scottish legal system, and many new court houses were built or reworked after this date. The design of court houses in the early 19th century tended towards neoclassical or Renaissance styles to convey their status as important public buildings.

The 1990s addition to rear and side in Mart Street is not considered of special interest in listing terms at the time of the review (2014-15).

Statutory address and listing building record revised as part of the Scottish Court Listing Review 2014-15. Previously listed as '212 Saltmarket, Justiciary Courts with flank to Clyde Street'.



Ordnance Survey (surveyed 1857, published 1860). Glasgow, Sheets VI.II.21 and VI.II.22 Large Scale Town Plan. 1st edition. London: Ordnance Survey.

National Archives of Scotland, Law Court Files, Glasgow Justiciary Court: reconstruction; official reopening; government contribution towards excess expenditure. E827/217/1.

Strathclyde Regional Archives. Town Clerk s Department. D-TC 13/440.

Competition drawings by Robert Reid, David Hamilton and William Stark. Dean of Guild plans. Mitchell Library 2/3020.

Clarke & Bell: Contract drawings Justiciary Courts Jail Square. Located in Justiciary Court House building.

Glasgow Herald (30 June 1913) Glasgow Justiciary Courts: description of the new building: notable improvements.

Glasgow Herald (7 July 1913) Glasgow Justiciary Courts: official opening: speech by Lord Dunedin.

Gomme, A. and Walker, D. (1987) The Architecture of Glasgow. London/Glasgow: Lund Humphries/John Smith & Son. p.70

Dictionary of Scottish Architects. James Hoey Craigie at [accessed 10 October 2014].

About Designations

Listed Buildings

We list buildings of special architectural or historic interest and these are selected according to criteria published in the, Annex 2, pp74-76.

The information in the listed building record gives an indication of the special architectural or historic interest of the listed building(s). It is not a definitive historical account or a complete description of the building(s). The format of the listed building record has changed over time. Earlier records may be brief and some information will not have been recorded.

Enquiries relating to works to listed buildings should be made to the local authority in the first instance. Listed building consent is required for works which a local authority considers will affect its character as a building of special architectural or historic interest and local authorities also decide if listed building consent is required.

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Legislation introduced on 1 October 2015 allows us to state that: an object or structure fixed to the listed building; any object or structure within the curtilage of the listed building; and, any part or feature of the listed building that is not of architectural or historic interest may be excluded from a listing. If part of your building is not listed under the new legislation, the part will be excluded in the statutory address and in the statement of special interest. The statement will use the word 'excluding' and quote the relevant section of the Historic Environment Scotland Act 2014. Some earlier listed building records may use the word 'excluding', but if the Act is not quoted, the record has not been revised to reflect current legislation.

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