Abbot's Kitchen


Before the construction of the Joseph Black Building, the School of Chemistry occupied an isolated octagonal structure located outside the south-east corner of the Main Building. Designed by George Gilbert Scott in 1865-1866, the Chemistry building was called the Abbot’s Kitchen after the 14th-century original at Glastonbury. In the first scheme proposed by Scott in March 1865, the Chemistry building was originally intended for the west side of the Gilbert Scott Building but, fearing the prevailing south-westerly wind that would blow noxious smells across the campus, the building was relocated to the eastern side.

During the 1880s and 1890s scientific disciplines were advancing significantly. The teaching emphasis shifted from lecture and demonstration to practical knowledge and skills in observation, measurement, experimentation, and rigorous analysis of technical data. Chemistry, as well as the other scientific subjects at the University, urgently needed more accommodations to suit their teaching needs. In 1902 Chemistry was provided with what was meant to be a temporary cheap brick engineering shed designed by John James Burnet around the old Abbot’s Kitchen. These ‘temporary’ structures remained in use until the construction of a new Chemistry building from 1936 to 1939. The Chemistry Building was re-named in 1997 after Joseph Black (1728-1799), University Lecturer in Chemistry from 1756 to 1766.

The old Abbot’s Kitchen was demolished to make way for the James Watt Engineering Building south extension, built from 1957 to 1959.


Abbot's Kitchen
Main Building
G12 8QQ
Record last updated: 22nd Apr 2015

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