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Allan Glen's Institution was founded in 1853 under the will of Allan Glen (1772-1850), wright in Glasgow, who made 'provision for giving gratuitously a good practical education to about 50 boys, sons of tradesmen or persons in the industrial classes in Glasgow'. The school was built on land owned by Glen at the corner of Cathedral Street and North Hanover Street.
It was incorporated by Act of Parliament in 1876 and concentrated increasingly on scientific and technical education. It was an important feeder school for Anderson's University, and a significant number of pupils won scholarships to Cambridge University and Imperial College, London. In 1887 Allan Glen's became part of the Glasgow and West of Scotland Technical College and in 1912 the school was transferred to the control of the School Board of Glasgow.