News from the Archives: Evening School wins 1900 Paris Exposition award

Our Archives team share a diploma for a silver award to Robert Gordon's College Evening School in 1900 for technical class exhibition submission at the 1900 Paris Exposition. The exhibition celebrated the achievements of the last century with almost 50 million visitors. Read more below about the history of the Evening School and the award made in Paris.

Robert Gordon’s Hospital providing boy's accommodation and education became Robert Gordon’s College, a fee-paying day school in 1881. In 1882, Dr Ogilvie, Headmaster, saw an immediate need to appoint a Science Master. By 1886 science teaching had become firmly established in the school. Dr Ogilvie’s second remit was to introduce a programme of evening classes in the new College. 

The first evening classes started in 1882, on a small scale at first, but soon expanded into a wide programme of scientific, technical and commercial courses for clerks, apprentices and others. These classes were organised after full consultation with the Mechanics’ Institution and in 1884 the entire educational programme of the Institution was transferred to Robert Gordon's College. Classes were organised in three groups: Science, Technology and General & Commercial and were, wherever possible, taught by the staff of the College. Where necessary, specialist teachers were drafted in. The total number of evening class students reached 1,254, taught by 37 teachers. Gray’s School of Art was opened in 1885 under the aegis of the Robert Gordon's College Governors. Later, a School of Pharmacy was established as part of Robert Gordon's College. In 1903, the Aberdeen School Board reached an agreement with our Governors that responsibility for all Continuation Classes in Aberdeen would be shared between them and Robert Gordon's College was granted the status of 'Central Institution for specialised instruction'.

The Exposition Universelle of 1900, also known as the 1900 Paris Exposition, was a world fair held in Paris, from 14 April to 12 November 1900. Its purpose was to celebrate the achievements of the last century and to accelerate development into the next. The style that was universally present in the Exposition was Art Nouveau. Nearly 50 million people visited the fair which had on display many machines, inventions, and architecture that are now nearly universally known, including the Grande Roue de Paris Ferris wheel, Russian nesting dolls, diesel engines, talking films, escalators, and the telegraphone (the first magnetic audio recorder).

Robert Gordon’s College Evening School submitted an item for inclusion in the exhibition and was awarded a Silver Medal and Diploma for its exhibit in Class VI (Works of Technical Classes). The original diploma is preserved in the school archives.

Read more: Archives at Robert Gordon's College