MARTYRS’ SCHOOL, Parson Street

PERCHED up above the road network in Glasgow city centre sits a stylish red sandstone building most of us have probably driven past a thousand times without really noticing.

This is the Martyrs’ Public School, and it is one of the first buildings Charles Rennie Mackintosh had a hand in when he was a senior assistant at architect firm Honeyman & Keppie.

It is far less well known than his other Glasgow school in Scotland Street, but this beautiful building has a special place in the hearts of Mackintosh fans because it stands on Parson Street, where the man himself was born in 1868.

The Martyrs’ School was once surrounded by tenements, a few minutes’ walk from Glasgow Royal Infirmary and Glasgow Cathedral.

It was commissioned in 1895, to accommodate 1000 pupils. The brief had to follow the 1872 Education Act in Scotland’s established design conventions for schools – symmetrical, with separate entrances for boys and girls. The Martyrs’ School is almost symmetrical, apart from a chimney on the southern side, and the eagle-eyed will spot Mackintosh hallmarks, like his distinctive Art Nouveau features around the windows and doorways.