Ramshorn Renovation

Ramshorn Kirk

Find out more about the Ramshorn Theatre renovation that was completed in summer 2019, with Estates Services managing the project.

The Ramshorn is a category A-listed building, reflecting its regional importance and local interest. Working with listed buildings comes with its own challenges, as it was necessary to preserve the unique architectural and historical features of the church.

This project saw the transformation of a neglected historic building into a bright modern office environment and multi-use space. The old theatre space and the hall were turned into flexible event and teaching spaces that will act as a hub for cultural exchange, performances and engagement work with schools, scholars, local government and the public.

The fabric and decorative renovation work can clearly be identified within the completed building. However, extensive structural and servicing works also took place. These works are not as apparent, but were essential to ensure longevity of the building and comply with current technical building standards and legislation.


Inside the Ramshorn Theatre before and after the renovation
Very brief history of the Ramshorn

The Ramshorn Kirk was built in 1824-26. It was designed by Thomas Rickman, a major architect in the Gothic revival. The graves and stained-glass windows of the kirk mention names of notable citizens and merchants that are familiar to Glaswegians, such as Ingram, Buchanan, Dennistoun and Glassford. Ramshorn’s graveyard used to be a prestigious place to be buried in, and the crypt within the Ramshorn also has many notable merchants, bankers and citizens laid to rest, including the University’s founder John Anderson himself. Discovering the history of the Ramshorn, one can even find rumours of ghosts and tragic love stories.

In 1982, The University of Strathclyde bought the church. It used to operate as a theatre and performing arts space. The building has been largely unoccupied since 2011. In 2019 the renovation of the Ramshorn was completed, and it became the new home of Scotland's National Centre for Languages (SCILT) and the Confucius Institute for Scotland’s Schools (CISS).


Ramshorn Theatre office space before and after renovation
The new home of SCILT and CISS

SCILT and CISS are settling in well in their new home, and are thrilled to be giving the building a new purpose and continuing the story of the Ramshorn. CISS’s Director Fhiona Mackay stated the building will become a hub of internationalisation to promote Chinese, Arabic and European languages, with the aim to enable young people to develop an international mindset and confidence to reach out to the world. The Ramshorn is adjacent to the Glasgow City Innovation District, where new and exciting initiatives are happening, and the new location will help SCILT and CISS connect with the city, business and academia more effectively. 

The Ramshorn is already inspiring future generations. Alice Lister, Projects Assistant at SCILT has been working with Glasgow City Council schools to help pupils learn about the history of the Ramshorn while developing their mobile app-building and language skills.


Inside the Ramshorn Theatre, before and after the renovation
Did you know?
  • The University's founder, Professor John Anderson, attended the church in the 18th century and was buried in the crypt. His grandfather and namesake, the Reverend John Anderson had been its minister in earlier days. (Source: Archives Hub)
  • The Ramshorn is Thomas Rickman’s only known work in Scotland. Before becoming an architect, Thomas Rickman worked as a doctor, book keeper, accountant and an insurance agent.
  • One of the unique features of the Ramshorn is its cruciform layout. This differentiates it from Rickman’s English churches. (Source: Stage 2-3 Report, Austin-Smith:Lord, 2018)
Our colleagues say... 

“While the project was challenging at times, everyone was on board and had a real ‘can-do attitude’ and a shared vision.”
Fan Lin, Deputy Director, CISS

“The Ramshorn is a nice, open space, with a real mix of modern and old.”
Katie Hawkins, Communications and Projects Officer, CISS