A tale of two fires: The full timeline of the Glasgow School of Art blazes in 21 pictures

The two fires were some of the most significant in the history of Glasgow due to their lasting effects on the city centre and Glaswegian’s artistic heritage

Glasgow’s School of Art - for nearly 200 years it stood as a testament to our city's long-standing artistic brilliance and creative innovation.

Since its establishment in 1845, the renowned institution has nurtured generations of artists, architects, and designers, leaving an indelible mark on the world of art - that ranges from the great Charles Rennie Mackintosh to more recent graduates like the famed Peter Capaldi or the sorely-missed Robbie Coltrane.

Yet, in recent years its illustrious history was brought to a shrieking halt when two fires broke out at the school which shook the city to its core.

It’s undeniable the place the Glasgow School of Art holds in the cultural fabric of Scotland and beyond - it wasn’t just Glasgow who was devastated by the fire - architects and artists the world over mourned the loss of the Charles Rennie Mackintosh library in the first blaze.

It served as a breeding ground for artistic movements, spawning the Glasgow Style, which merged influences from Art Nouveau and Symbolism. Its architectural masterpiece, the Mackintosh Building, was designed by the visionary Charles Rennie Mackintosh and often seen as his pièce de résistance.

The library had become an iconic symbol of the school’s creative prowess and was recognised the world over as one of the finest examples of Art-Nouveau architecture.

The charred ruins of the Mackintosh building left the artistic community in Glasgow and beyond reeling in shock.

On the day of final year student’s all-important degree showcase, the first blaze broke out. The loss was immeasurable, with precious artworks and archives succumbing to the flames. Yet, amidst the grief, hope flickered as plans for restoration took shape.

The painstaking efforts to rebuild the Mackintosh Building were nearing completion in 2018, kindling a renewed sense of optimism. However, fate dealt a cruel blow when a second fire erupted, dealing another devastating blow to the cherished structure.

The Glasgow School of Art and the city of Glasgow found themselves confronting an unimaginable setback, a challenge that demanded resilience and determination. A once-in-a-lifetime tragedy had happened twice in a generation - just four years after the fire shook the foundations of Glasgow’s artistic community.

The impact of the second fire extended far beyond the boundaries of the Glasgow School of Art. The city itself felt the loss deeply, just as the institution represented a beacon of artistic excellence and cultural heritage - so to was the ABC building seen as a cornerstone venue in Glasgow for aspiring musical artists.

The fires became a rallying point for the community, igniting conversations about the preservation of artistic legacies and the importance of fire safety measures in the city.

While many local community members rightly protested the school of art’s lack of communication following the fires and Scottish Parliament lamented that the School of Art had not properly installed a modern fire-misting system.

In this feature gallery, we examine how the fires profoundly affected the school and the city by looking at a timeline of the two blazes amidst news that its restoration will be further delayed.

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