Daily Record building

M182 Daily Record building

Address: 20, Renfield Lane, Glasgow G2 6PH
Date: 1900–1; 1903–4
Client: Daily Record proprietors
Authorship: Authorship category 1 (Mackintosh) (Mackintosh)


In 1901, James Hamilton Muir commented that the 'last few years have seen a change come over the town; to-day the eye is uplifted at every turn by great picturesque erections of red stone that are adding a kind of jocund quality to the life of our streets ... Within a radius of half a mile from the Exchange ... the newest comers are breaking up the skyline with an almost startling variety of profile.' 1 When finally completed in May 1904, the Daily Record building sandwiched between Renfield Lane and St Vincent Lane close to Central Station, joined the ranks of tall new commercial buildings which by then dominated the centre of Glasgow. Although not built of red stone, its yellow sandstone and its white and blue glazed brick facades added to the 'jocund quality' of city street life, and the treatment of the roof to the diversity of Glasgow's skyline.


The long, narrow site was purchased from the Scottish Temperance Life Assurance Co., whose building was the immediate neighbour to the W. 2 It lies between Renfield Lane and St Vincent Lane, with facades to both. It is a confined, back-street location, but in a self-promoting article published to celebrate the opening of the building in May 1901, the Daily Record claimed that 'the situation ... in the very heart of the city, leaves nothing to be desired. ... Renfield Lane [has] been hitherto regarded as of semi-private character, but the opening of the new building will change this and make it a thoroughfare from Renfield Street to Hope Street.' 3 From the newspaper's own perspective, at least, its new building by architects John Honeyman & Keppie made a unique statement in the urban landscape.


John Honeyman & Keppie had by this date shown their ability to design industrial buildings using steel, cast-iron and masonry construction, such as the Skin and hide Market, the Cheapside Street grain store and premises for the Glasgow Herald newspaper, and the Daily Record building includes features common to other industrial buildings designed by the practice in its structure and planning. However, with the sculptural schemes at the ground floor and roof line, and the glazed brick facades, which point unmistakably to Mackintosh, the Daily Record's owners clearly wished to distinguish their building from that of their rivals at the Glasgow Herald.


The building has two distinct halves: a four-bay, five-storey block with elaborately treated attic to the W., and a much simpler three-storey block to the E. Construction was in two phases, reflecting this division: from May 1900 to May 1901 the basement, ground, first and second floors across the entire building were constructed; the upper three floors of the W. section followed between October 1903 and May 1904. Newspaper production began following completion of the first phase. John Honeyman & Keppie's drawings submitted to Glasgow Dean of Guild Court in April 1900 – signed by John Keppie but probably drawn by Mackintosh – show that the upper three floors were initially intended as warehouse, i.e. storage, spaces.

Despite the W.–E. division of the upper floors, the ground floor of the principal, S., elevation to Renfield Lane is continuous, with windows and doors framed by five elliptical arches and three round arches – two to the E. and one to the W. – in yellow sandstone. The public entrance is just W. of the centre, in the eastern-most bay of the five-storey W. half, emphasised by a full-height canted oriel above, crowned by an embellished canted bay with deep reveals at roof level.

A staff entrance was located in the western-most bay, while the two bays at the E. end were originally used for despatching newspapers, with doors at loading height.

Colour photograph of S. elevation, Renfield LaneColour photograph of oriel over main entranceColour photograph of W. section of S. elevation

Mackintosh's treatment of the N. elevation to St Vincent Lane was much simpler overall. The ground floor had four elliptical arches in yellow sandstone towards the centre of the facade with a group of narrow vertical windows to each side – at the W. corresponding to the main stairwell inside and at the E. to lavatories – and two round arches at the E of the façade.

Colour photograph of N. elevation, St Vincent LaneColour photograph of E. section of N. elevation

The ground-floor windows are framed by the arches. On the upper floors of the E. half there are evenly-spaced single windows; in the W. half, they are grouped in threes, separated by tapering iron mullions. On the fourth floor they become shallow canted bays – cantilevered not corbelled out – to match the oriel. All these windows look like conventional wooden sashes but in fact pivot horizontally. 4

Neither the different heights of the two halves nor the disposition of the windows (except on the ground floor at the W.) reflect the internal layout: the plans reveal that the division of internal spaces in the basement, ground, first and second floors had little connection with the external appearance. As Alan Crawford has pointed out, 'the composition of the elevation must have been generated from something other than the plan'. 5

Materials and decoration

The ground-floor arches of massive sandstone blocks form a continuous, undulating band, uninterrupted by the capitals. Each arch is cut away to give a cyma recta profile, and at its apex, instead of a solid keystone, there is a slender, tapering, vertical projection – a more refined variation of the spout-like ornament above the vestry door at Queen's Cross Church. The drawings show that the capitals were to have been carved with circular ornaments, like the column capitals at Queen's Cross. The arches have been compared with the entrance arch of the slightly earlier Passmore Edwards Settlement building in Tavistock Place, London, by Arnold Dunbar Smith and Cecil Claude Brewer (1895–8). 6 David Walker has commented that the two designs were 'probably drawn up independently'. However, an article on the newly completed Passmore Edwards Settlement was featured in the Studio, vol. 15 (1898), and could well have been seen by Mackintosh.

Colour photograph of main entranceColour photograph of  Passmore Edwards Settlement, London, elliptical arch doorway

The attic, like the ground floor, is yellow sandstone, with square-headed dormers linked by short stretches of downward-sweeping parapet wall. The dormers have decorative carving based on organic forms. The N. elevation of the attic is a downward-sweeping parapet wall. On the E. half of the building the eaves are lower on the N. elevation than on the S. so that there are no second-floor windows. A slender chimneystack was originally located at the centre of the E. half of the S. elevation.

Colour photograph of roofline detail of S. elevation

Contemporary drawings show that the massive keystone above the public entrance was to have been carved with organic forms probably similar to those at the apex of the dormers at the roof. This was not carried, probably because of budgetary limitations. 7

Between the sandstone ground floor and attic, both façades are faced in glazed brick, mostly white with a horizontal band of blue immediately above the ground floor. By this date, back-street elevations and inner light-wells of office buildings were regularly faced with glazed brick to reflect as much natural light as possible into the building. 8 Mackintosh exploited this practical building material in an unusual and imaginative way for decorative effect. In the vertical spaces between the windows of the first to fourth floors, columns of irregularly spaced green bricks project slightly from the white background. The columns terminate in triangles of similarly projecting red bricks immediately below the attic. The design has been interpreted as a stylised tree, comparable to motifs in brick on the E. gable of the Passmore Edwards Settlement building. It is thought that this in turn was inspired by the architect and theorist W. R. Lethaby whose volume Architecture, Mysticism and Myth (1891) Mackintosh plagiarised extensively for his 1893 lecture 'Architecture'. 9 The geometric decoration looks forward to Mackintosh's later work, for instance at 78 Derngate. The elevations submitted to Glasgow Dean of Guild Court in April 1900 show what might be large hopper-heads with slender downpipes in place of the glazed-brick motifs.

Colour photograph of S. elevation, fourth-floor bay window and decorationColour photograph of  Passmore Edwards Settlement, London, decorative brickwork on E. elevation

The unusual design led the writer in the Daily Record to point out that 'visitors to the new offices will observe in the elevation to Renfield Lane a striking departure from the ordinary traditions of Glasgow offices'. 10


In spite of the non-traditional use of materials, the massing of the Renfield Lane facade shows Mackintosh drawing on Scottish Baronial architecture, as he had done earlier at the Glasgow Herald building. The elaboration and increasing projection of the facade towards the roofline, and the craggy outline of the dormers, recall the fortification of 17th-century tower houses. The cantilevered canted bays on the fourth floor in particular can be compared with the S. front of Huntly Castle, Aberdeenshire of c. 1600–10.

Colour photograph of Huntly Castle, S. elevation

The massive keystones which penetrate the arch above the public entrance and act as a corbel for the oriel above, appear, acording to Alan Crawford to be 'based on the relationship between lintel and relieving arch in Scottish buildings of the 17th century and earlier': he cites the example of Threave Castle near Kirkcudbright, which was featured in McGibbon and Ross's Castellated and Domestic Architecture of Scotland, vol. 1, published in 1892, a publication drawn on heavily by Mackintosh in his 1891 lecture 'Scotch Baronial'. 11 A similar block of unworked stone supporting an oriel can be seen on the E. elevation of the Glasgow School of Art.

Interior and function

John Honeyman & Keppie's drawings of April 1900 show printing presses in the basement; the counting house (or public office) and despatch room on the ground floor; typesetters on the first floor; and editorial offices on the second floor. The upper floors were to be used for warehousing. The Daily Record's report on the opening of their new building confirms the arrangement shown in the drawings. The new printing machines made possible the 'speedy production of 75,000 8-page papers per hour'. The arrangement of the 'composing flat' on the first floor was described as 'ideal': an overseer at an elevated desk could 'command a view of the entire staff, and by means of lifts is placed in direct and speedy communication with both the editorial and commercial departments'. 12

Drawings show that the structure of the building is very similar to that of the Glasgow Herald buildings, and it was declared that likewise 'each floor was absolutely fireproof'. 13 The building has a load-bearing masonry and brick structure with a skeleton of cast-iron columns with lobed capitals supporting the floors, which were presumably – the job-book entry omits the structural metalwork – constructed of rolled steel I-section beams with rolled iron I-section joists laid on top. The spaces between the joists are filled with concrete. Several of the original floors were replaced at a later date (see below). This sort of fire-resistant floor was widely used in commercial buildings by 1900. A system of iron joists infilled with concrete was patented by Henry Hawes Fox as early as 1844. 14 At the second and fifth floors a roof of iron trusses supports a partly glazed roof.

The architects' drawings show fireplaces, panelling and doorcases throughout the building. The counting house was reported to be a 'handsome and well-lighted apartment' in which 20 clerks worked, and 'the whole of the furnishings in the office have been specifically designed and are in harmony with the general scheme of the building'. No trace of the interior scheme for the counting house survives. 15

According to the report in the Daily Record, 'hygienic considerations, which have been kept in view in the construction of all rooms, have never had fuller play than in the equipment of the composing dept. The staircase situated at the west end of the building is lined throughout with white tiles, and a subsidiary staircase gives access from the ground floor to the machinery dept in the basement.' 16 The white glazed brick proved to be a multifunctional material on the exterior and interior. The report went on to make much of the fact that the new building was powered by electricity from two local substations: should the power fail at one, production of the newspaper could continue. It triumphantly concluded that 'as regards completeness of internal arrangements, the new premises of the Daily Record will rank second to none in the country.' 17

Later alterations


Honeyman, Keppie & Mackintosh carried out internal alterations costing almost £580, involving considerable wright work as well as work to fireplaces, plumbing and painting. According to notes in the job-book entry, changes were made to offices, the manager's room, typewriters' room and the electricity room, presumably reflecting developments in newspaper production.


By this date the Daily Record had acquired the neighbouring property to the W., on Hope Street, formerly the home of the Scottish Temperance League designed by J. Gaff Gillespie of Salmon & Son in 1893–4. 18 The W. stair of the of the Daily Record building became a link with this neighbour, and doors were 'slapped through' to allow the stair to serve both buildings.


By 1937 the Daily Record had moved to larger printing works on Hope Street and the Renfield Lane building – though seemingly not the former Scottish Temperance building – had been sold to R. W. Forsyth's department store. 19 The Glasgow architects Burnet, Son & Dick were employed to transform it into a clothing warehouse. The ground floor was converted into a garage. A new concrete floor was inserted at the level of St Vincent Lane (a few feet higher than Renfield Lane) and vehicular access provided from St Vincent Lane by demolishing the piers between four of the ground-floor arches. A mezzanine was inserted in the basement. Access to the W. stair was blocked off, so that it only served the former Scottish Temperance building, and three new staircases were inserted: one at the E. end, with a new entrance from Renfield Lane; and two on the S. side – from basement to second floor and from second floor to fifth. The public entrance on Renfield Lane was blocked and its external steps removed. 20


As early as 1972, the neglect of the façades and the poor quality of repairs and alterations by R. W. Forsyth's had been documented. 21


Forsyth's closed in 1983. The building was further altered in 1984, when the Scottish Mutual Assurance Society acquired it to house back-up computer facilities and storage. Their headquarters were located at 109 St Vincent Street, directly across St Vincent Lane. The work carried out by Glasgow architects T. M. Miller & Partners and Cowie & Linn, structural engineers, involved two major changes: a steel-clad concrete bridge was added at the second floor giving access to the Scottish Mutual Assurance Society's headquarters, and a new concrete floor was made at first-floor level to bear the weight of computer equipment. Some remedial work and external cleaning were also undertaken after consultation with the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society. This included dry rot prevention, reslating and cleaning of stone and brickwork. 22

By 1986, further extensive alterations had been made, including replacing the second floor in reinforced concrete for an additional computer suite. Suspended ceilings, fire-safe doors and air-conditioning condensers on the roof had also been installed. 23


After a period of disuse, a programme of restoration work was carried out in 2005–7. 24 Externally, the building was returned close to original appearance. The bridge was removed and door and window apertures reinstated. By this date the chimney had been removed from the S. elevation. Many of the later internal changes were however retained. On the St Vincent Lane elevation, the four arches, which had been converted to two garage doors, were reinstated in simplified form. At the same time, the lane was lowered to provide basement access to the building on the N. side, 123 St Vincent Street. Consequently, the basement of the Daily Record building is now (2011) above ground level on this side.

In November 2007, café-bar and music venue 'Stereo' moved into the ground floor and basement. A kitchen, bar and lavatory were introduced along the N. side of the ground floor. 25 In 2011 the first and second floors were let as serviced offices entered from 106 Hope Street, the former Scottish Temperance League building.

A report on the condition of the building was produced as part of the Mackintosh Buildings Survey, led by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society and carried out between 2015 and 2016. 26


John Honeyman & Keppie exhibited a watercolour drawing of the Daily Record building in the architecture section of the Fine Arts display at the Glasgow International Exhibition of 1901 (no. 287). The Architectural Review described this drawing as 'a perspective in colour ... attached to which is the signature of Charles R. Mackintosh, a young architect of parts'; the critic of the Glasgow Herald commented that it was 'specially notable'. 27 It might well have been Mackintosh's watercolour perspective (M182-015) that was exhibited.

The perspective probably represents Mackintosh's original vision for the Daily Record premises, and differs from the executed building in a number of crucial ways: a continuous shallow cornice supported on corbels stretches across the S. elevation above the ground floor, and below it a band of projecting stonework follows the undulations of the arches (on the building in 2011 an ochre-coloured band above blue-glazed brick suggests the cornice and corbels); the attic cornice is supported by corbels; a canted dormer with curved pediment crowns the canted oriel; the gable chimneystack has a cornice. Drawings submitted to the Dean of Guild Court in April 1900 show the same unexecuted details and an additional cornice above the second-floor windows on the E. half of the S. elevation. The cool, restrained palette, which draws on the convention of illustrating shadow in indigo, presents a dramatic but formal vision of the building. In reality, the colourful facade with its varied materials and forms has a livelier presence.

The accomplished and expressive perspective is unique in Mackintosh's oeuvre: his perspective drawings were usually line drawings, executed in black ink. The narrow, vertical format is also unusual: perspectives were regularly drawn in landscape format showing something of the building's surroundings. The format will have been prompted in part by the narrow site.The soaring quality of the W. half of the building is dramatised and emphasised by the omission of much of the E. half and some windows, and the exaggerated perspective view. By contrast, the much less accomplished sketch by an unknown artist accompanying an article on the opening of the building, based on drawings submitted to the Dean of Guild Court not the executed building, suggests a setting on a broad and busy street. This depicts Renfield Lane as the 'thoroughfare from Renfield Street to Hope Street' envisaged in the Daily Record article. 28

Photograph of lithograph sketch of the Daily Record buildingColour photograph of perspective from S.E.


1: James Hamilton Muir, Glasgow in 1901, Glasgow and Edinburgh: William Hodge & Co., 1901, pp. 139–40.

2: Glasgow VI.10.10 (25 inch, 2nd edn, 1892–4).

3: Daily Record, 27 May 1901, p. 3.

4: Similar windows, W. G. & L. England 'patent sliding and reversible windows', were advertised in the Glasgow trade journal Building Industries, 13, 16 June 1902.

5: Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, p. 62.

6: Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, p. 57; David Walker, 'The Glasgow Years', in Wendy Kaplan, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, New York and London: Abbeville Press, 1996, p. 140.

7: See the N. and S. elevations: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 41303 (M182-003); GLAHA 41323 (M182-002); Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court plans, TD1309/A/111; Mackintosh's 1901 watercolour perspective, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: GLAHA 52400 (M182-015); and the Daily Record, 27 May 1901, p. 3.

8: David Walker, 'The Glasgow Years', in Wendy Kaplan, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, New York and London: Abbeville Press, 1996, p. 140.

9: Alan Crawford, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, London: Thames & Hudson, 1995, p. 57; David Walker, 'The Glasgow Years', in Wendy Kaplan, Charles Rennie Mackintosh, New York and London: Abbeville Press, 1996, p. 140; Pamela Robertson, ed., Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Architectural Papers, Wendlebury, Oxon: White Cockade in association with the Hunterian Art Gallery, 1990, pp. 201–11.

10: Daily Record, 27 May 1901, p. 3.

11: Pamela Robertson, ed., Charles Rennie Mackintosh: The Architectural Papers, Wendlebury, Oxon: White Cockade in association with the Hunterian Art Gallery, 1990, pp. 28–63.

12: Daily Record, 27 May 1901, p. 3.

13: Daily Record, 27 May 1901, p. 3.

14: J. Sutherland, D. Humm and M. Chrimes, eds, Historic Concrete: The Background to Appraisal, London: Thomas Telford, 2001, pp. 49-50.

15: Daily Record, 27 May 1901, p. 3.

16: Daily Record, 27 May 1901, p. 3.

17: Daily Record, 27 May 1901, p. 3.

18: Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, pp. 227–8.

19: Elizabeth Williamson, Anne Riches and Malcolm Higgs, Buildings of Scotland: Glasgow, London: Penguin, 1990, p. 227.

20: Glasgow City Archives Collection: Glasgow Dean of Guild Court plans, B4/12/1937/440.

21: In 1972, R. D. Maudsley wrote 'A Report on the Buildings in Glasgow of Charles Rennie Mackintosh' for Glasgow Corporation Planning Department. The report is mentioned in Alison Harris, 'A report on the present and future condition of the remaining buildings of Charles Rennie Mackintosh', Mackintosh School of Architecture, Glasgow: unpublished diploma thesis, 1976, p. 21.

22: Colin Smith, 'Hi-Tech Refurb', Chartered Quantity Surveyor Journal, 7, May 1985, pp. 391–2; 'Record Renewed', Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society Newsletter, 39, Winter 1984–5, p. 3.

23: The Hunterian, University of Glasgow: notes from a visit to the building by Pamela Robertson in November 1986.

24: Glasgow Herald, 7 February 2005, p. 8.

25: www stereocafebar.com [accessed 3 May 2011].

26: A copy of the report (MBS23) is held by the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Society, Mackintosh Queen's Cross, 870 Garscube Road, Glasgow G20 7EL. The Mackintosh Buildings Survey was funded by The Monument Trust.

27: 'The Artistic Side of the Glasgow Exhibition', Architectural Review, 10, 1 August 1901, pp. 42–52; Glasgow Herald, 21 August 1901, p. 8.

28: Daily Record, 27 May 1901, p. 3.