Spoutmouth Bible Institution (St James’ Free Church) Mutual Improvement Association


A manuscript magazine was produced by this institution in 1873 (see ‘Additional Notes’ below), but it is unclear if it was the production of a society formed within the organisation, or the result of a group effort by those working-class and lower middle-class young men attending the various classes at the Spoutmouth Bible Institution. The first (anonymous) essay, ‘The Early Days of the “Spout”, provides a colourful history of the Institution from its founding in 1848 by Michael Connal, when he hired a room in the Spoutmouth district of the city (in the Gallowgate area) for the purpose of providing a reading room with a selection of newspapers (see ‘The Early Days of the Spout’, Spoutmouth Bible Institution, The Spoutmouth Institution Magazine, No. II, 1873, pp. 5-27). (For more information about the Spoutmouth district, see ‘Spoutmouth, Gallowgate‘ on The Glasgow Story website). The Institution had a Penny Savings Bank and its own library. The essay also discusses the variety of other lectures and taught classes on offer — which included a mutual improvement class — up until 1873.

From 1893, the Spoutmouth Bible Institution Mutual Improvement Association met on Saturday evenings at 7.30 from September until the end of March. Members met to hear essays read an eclectic mix of subjects, which was the norm for these societies. This mixture of topics included papers on a number of authors and their works including Ruskin, Robert Browning’s poetry, extracts of works by Goethe, George Meredith, and Thomas More’s Utopia, to name a few.

In addition to the regular meetings, there were Burns night celebrations that included recitations, singing and readings, and an annual social meeting held at the end of each session.

The minute book does not have a list of the members, but attendance at the meetings varied from around 10 to over 40 people, the larger attendances usually being the socials.

Date of Existence

10 June 1848-1940?

Source of Information

1. Glasgow, Spoutmouth Bible Institution (St James’ Free Church), Spoutmouth Bible Institution, The Spoutmouth Institution Magazine, No. II, 16 May 1873 (GCA, CH3/1281/16);

2. Glasgow, Spoutmouth Bible Institution (St James’ Free Church) Mutual Improvement Association Minutes, 1893-98 (GCA, CH3/1281/15)


Glasgow City Archives (GCA)

Reference Number

(See ‘Source of Information’)

Additional Notes

See also entry for The Spoutmouth Institution Magazine on our sister website, Literary Bonds.