Buildings of St Andrews

Want to learn more about the distinguished individuals whose names are on the university buildings around town? Have a look below to find out more!

James Bell Pettigrew was a comparative anatomist born on May 26th 1832 in Lanarkshire. He studied arts at the University of Glasgow in 1850 to 1855, before moving to Edinburgh where he pursued a medical education.

In 1875, Pettigrew was appointed Chandos professor medicine and anatomy as well as dean of the medical faculty at the University of St Andrews. During his time in St Andrews, he delivered lectures on physiology in Dundee.

Sir James Colquhoun Irvine was born on May 9th 1877 in Glasgow. At 18 years old, he matriculated and attended the University of St Andrews. While he was there, he worked under Professor Thomas Purdie; himself a notable Scottish chemist who is widely credited with founding the School of Chemistry at the University of St Andrews.

Sir James Irvine was notably the Principal of St Andrews for over three decades – from 1920 to 1952. During his tenure as president, he oversaw an extensive modernisation of the university, earning him the moniker “St Andrews’ Second Founder”. 

Alfred Jack Cole was a Computer Scientist and Mathematician born in 1925. He is credited as one of the main drivers behind the establishment of Computer Science at the University of St Andrews. Cole studied Mathematics at University College London, graduating with first class honours.

In 1965, Dr. Cole was appointed to a senior lectureship as Director of the Computing Laboratory in the University of St Andrews. At the time, the computing service staff totalled only 3 members. Dr. Cole himself, an operator and a computer/punch operator. 

Thomas Purdie was born on January 27th 1843 in Biggar, South Lanarkshire. He spent seven years of his youth in South America, where he the abundance of flora and fauna captured his attention, arousing a spirit of inquiry that remained for the rest of his life.  He returned to Scotland later in life. It was a conversation with Thomas Henry Huxley that convinced him to pursue a scientific education. 

Purdie was elected to the vacant chair at St Andrews in 1884. At the time, the university could only offer cramped accommodation, imperfect equipment and the small matter that Chemistry had no official place in the curriculum. These circumstances did not faze Thomas Purdie whatsoever, as he worked to found the School of Chemistry in the university.