School where Sir Alex Ferguson learned to swim wins historic listing

Greenfield Primary School in Govan. PIC
Greenfield Primary School in Govan. PIC
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The Glasgow primary school where Sir Alex Ferguson learned to swim as a young boy is the latest historic property in Scotland to have its heritage protected.

Greenfield Primary School in Govan has been awarded category B status by Historic Environment Scotland in recognition of its architectural merit and interest.

Every pupil in Govan is said to have learned to swim at Greenfield, with Sir Alex among pupils to attend lessons at the Nimmo Drive pool, which unusually remains intact.

Sir Alex, former manager of Aberdeen and Manchester United who also enjoyed a successful playing career, was a pupil at nearby Broomloan Road Primary.

Greenfield, which opened in 1902 with capacity for 750 pupils, is said to typify Glasgow’s ambitious school building programme in the late 19th and earlier 20th Century.

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A spokesman for Historic Environment Scotland said: “The former Greenfield Primary School is said locally to have been where every child in Govan learned to swim – even legendary former football manager Sir Alex Ferguson, who is from the area.

“At the time of Greenfield’s construction, Glasgow was the second largest city in Britain, and was in the latter stages of an ambitious programme of school building to accommodate the population boom.

“The Govan school board pioneered the introduction of swimming pools and gymnasiums to schools. Glasgow has a fantastic heritage of school buildings and Greenfield, with the added rarity of still having its swimming pool in place, has been listed at category B to reflect this.”

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The Govan Parish School Board - said to have “strong socialist leanings” pioneered the introduction of school swimming pools and constructed eight schools with pools and gymnasiums between 1885 and 1904.

Only in Liverpool was this figure surpassed. Few school swimming pools now survive especially if they were located near the main school building rather than built integrally, Historic Environment Scotland said.

Architects Steele and Balfour, who built several schools and churches throughout the city, were chosen to design Greenfield.

The school was in continual use until it closed in 2009 and it was placed on the Buildings at Risk register in 2014 due to damp and vandalism.

Sir Alex grew up in a tenement in Govan Road and went on to attend Govan High School, which he returns to on occasion to speak to staff and pupils.