Week 33 – Diplomates and Staff of the Scottish Hotel School, 1961
[Archives reference: OF/26/77]
The Scottish Hotel School was established in 1944 as part of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Commercial College (known from 1955 as the Scottish College of Commerce). The School initially occupied some of the College premises in Pitt Street, but soon required space for expansion and development, and relocated to Ross Hall, a handsome Victorian mansion in the Crookston area of Glasgow, in October 1948. From 1949, the students also lived in at Ross Hall, making it the first residential hotel school in the country.
By the late 1950s, the Scottish Hotel School had built up an international reputation within the hospitality and catering industry and was accepting ever-increasing numbers of students onto its two-year diploma programme. As well as learning the theoretical principles of hotel management, students needed to gain practical experience of every aspect of hotel work. To facilitate this, Ross Hall was laid out and run in the manner of a hotel with all the requisite departments, including a reception area, kitchen, pâtisserie, restaurant, stores, cellar and laundry. The students themselves did the work in every department, supervised by expert technical instructors - each year group was divided into two sections, and while one section was studying in the classrooms, the other concentrated on practical work, and vice versa. In session 1959-60, the diploma course was extended from two years to three years and became more academically rigorous, with the examinations being externally assessed by a panel of recognised experts for the first time. This photograph, taken on the Scottish College of Commerce ‘Diploma Day’ in 1961, shows the staff and diplomates of the Scottish Hotel School assembled outside the front entrance of Ross Hall. The image represents a significant milestone in the School’s academic standing, as this was the first occasion on which its students were permitted to wear academic dress at the presentation ceremony, in recognition of the enhancements made to the diploma course.
Following the merger of the Scottish College of Commerce with the Royal College of Science and Technology in 1964, the Scottish Hotel School remained an important part of the new University of Strathclyde, and the diploma course was developed into a degree course. In 1982, Ross Hall was sold and the School moved into the Curran Building on the main University campus. The Scottish Hotel School closed in 2009, and courses in hospitality and tourism management are now run by the Strathclyde Business School.