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Schools - Timeline


One of the fascinating things about researching local history is the opportunities it provides for comparing 'then' and 'now'. This page gathers together some extracts from the education archives that have caught our researchers' attention.

From 'Memories of my early days'
by William Macgillivray,
c. 1912.

Aunty Tibbie... had been fairly well educated, could read, write, and do simple sums in arithmetic correctly. So she put her acquirements to account and kept a school for the younger children of the neighbourhood. She began their education with an "ABC" little bookie... Aunty was a strict disciplinarian. She has a 'tards' (tawse) which lay conveniently for use... It was by no means a mere symbol of office... but was frequently in vigorous use; and when used, it warmed well the small palms to which it was applied.

The book was illustrated by H C Preston MacGoun who was a frequent visitor to the home of the Geddes family of artists who lived in Gowanbrae Cottage. Their Cottage had at one time been a dame school.


From the 'Blairgowrie Advertiser' August 1862 (Advert)

The committee anxious to raise the status of the school have engaged Mr F F Rigg, University of London, who has had 12 years experience as a teacher, upwards of 8 of which have been passed in large public schools in England. Mr Rigg was for 4 years Master in the College at Institute of Taunton, an affiliated college of London University and held the position of Senior Classic Lecturer in charge of the university class.
The course of instruction will embrace Maths, Classics, French, German and elementary Chemistry with all branches of an English education.
A quarterly report of the school rank and progress of each pupil will be furnished to parents and evaluation will be promoted by periodic written exams.

(It seems that the privately run Propriety School was not a success. Three years later...)
From the 'Blairgowrie Advertiser' 16th September 1865

Our readers will learn from our advertising column that an additional school is to be started in Blairgowrie. All who know anything of the educational requirements of our town and neighbourhood will concur with us in thinking that the office bearers of the South Free Congregation are taking a step in the right direction. In consequence of the increase in polulation within recent years – an increase that does not seem to have reached its limits – there is abundant room for another school without in the least interfering with those already in existence.

From 'Education and culture for the million' by Allan Proctor, School Board member, in
The Blairgowrie Annual, 1893

...My belief is, and has always been, that for the ordinarily constituted boy and girl school life is made too dreary and too much of a task... What is the reason of this state of feeling in young people?... My belief is that the system of education is to blame in the one case by giving young people a distaste to learning, and in the other case by making little, or, at least, very faint attempts to infuse a taste for reading of any kind, far less for good solid books...

From 'A few hints to young people on reading' by John Laing in
The Blairgowrie Monthly, 1891-92

Time is short. The demands upon it grow with the years. The wheel of life revolves with ever-increasing velocity. Make good use, therefore, of the days of youth. If they are wasted you can never recover them. Never again will your opportunities for self-culture be so favourable. Never again will your appetite for reading be so keen or your enjoyment of what you read so full of zest. Never again will there be such freshness, stimulus, and suggestiveness in books as during the spring time of your life.

But be aware of reading too much and of reading too many books on too many subjects. Read with a purpose. Select your subject and master it. Select your books and resolve to digest them. Above all select the best books. Do not be content with bronze or silver when gold is within your reach, Now is the time for you to make life-long friends and companions of the greatest minds of all ages – Homer, Plato, Confucius, Virgil, Seneca, Marcus Aurelius; Swedenborg, Goethe, Fichte, Jean Paul; Shakespeare, Milton, Bacon; Spenser, Wordsworth, Burns; Chaning, Whittier, Lowell; Carlyle, Tennyson, Darwin, Huxley. If once you accustom yourself to converse with royal and imperial intellects like these you will not care for those of inferior order...

'Work, Boys, Work: A song for school boys (to the tune of Cheer, Boys, Cheer) by Marah.
The Blairgowrie Monthly, 1893

Oh! we wish our youth away, for we're grinding every day,
Grinding at old Homer and his musty Greek,
For there's many now so clever, we must make a strong endeavour,
Or we'll never win the honours that we seek.

Work, boys, work, the years are flying,
Manhood cometh on apace;
Let us fill our school-day hours by exerting all our powers,
For we'd like to be the foremost in the race.

Let us follow, as boys should, the noble, true, and good,
Ever seeking for our gain by honest ways;
Never 'boss' a weaker brother, but each helping on the other,
We will find by doing right the highest praise.

Work, boys, work ...

We will never reach the top if at every trial we stop,
Let us stick into our works with might and main;
And when deep in mathematics never think on trip pneumatics,
For the jolly times we've had will come again.

Work, boys, work...

When at length we leave the college, with our pates stuffed full of knowledge,
And the toughest bits of study fairly done –
When the learning days are over, oh! it's then we'll be in clover,
If by pluck and perseverance we have won.

Work, boys, work...

Some extracts from the Old Statistical Account for the county of Perthshire (1791-1799)

NOTE: The Statistical Accounts provide important sources for the half centuryspanning the Agricultural and Industrial Revolutions. They offer detailed parish reports for the whole of Scotland and cover a vast range of topics including agriculture, education, trades, religion and social customs.

Church, Stipend, School, Etc. – The church and manse are old, and not in good repair. The glebe nearly 6 acres. The stipend L.65 [65]. Earl of Kinnoul, patron. There are 5 heritors. The salary of the schoolmaster is L.8, 6s. 8d. [8.31 approx.] and the perquisites amount nearly to the same sum; the number of scholars about 40.


There is one established school in the parish, in which reading English, writing, arithmetic, book-keeping, and some branches of mathematics are taught, From 3 to 50 scholars attend, according to the season of the year.


The present teacher, who has long taught successfully, lately obtained a small augmentation of salary; but even with this addition, it is only 200 merks. The school fees are, per quarter, 1s. [5p] for reading English; 1s 6d [71/2p] for writing, arithmetic and Latin. The whole emoluments, exclusive of a free house, so not exceed 22 L. a year [22], reward by no means adequate to the abilities and application of so important an office.


There is one charity school occasionally taught in the head of the parish. In the winter season, there are two or three private schools kept up by the tenants, in corners remote form the parochial school.

Some extracts from the New Statistical Account (1834-1845)

The total number of schools in the parish is four, whereof one is a parish school, and the other three are taught by individuals on their own account, without any endowment or other emolument than the school-feels. Three of these schools are situated in the town, the other at a place called Banchory, in the lower extremity of the parish. The salary of the parish schoolmaster is the maximum; and the parochial teacher has the legal accommodations. The general expense of education per annum, in all the different branches taught in these schools, is from L.1 to L.1, 12s [1 to 1.60].

The whole population of the lower part of the parish, and the greater proportion of that inhabiting the upper district, are within a convenient distance of one or other of the schools above enumerated…


The late Mr George Barty, formerly tobacconist in Perth, and native of this parish, by his settlement, bequeathed one-third of the free residue of his estate to the Dean of Guild and Guild–Council of Perth, in trust, for the purpose of laying it out on heritable security, and paying the interest thereof annually to the parish schoolmaster of Blairgowrie, and his successors in office, to defray the expense of educating "all the orphan, fatherless, and poor children" belonging to the parishes of Blairgowrie, Rattray, Bendochy, and Kinloch in the parish school of Blairgowrie, the children to be recommended by the minister and kirk-session of these parishes, and those bearing the names of Barty and Soutar to be preferred. Mr Barty died in the month of June 1838, and his bequest came into operation at Martinmas 1841. The fund thus mortified amounts to L.1400 [1,400], and there are now 40 children enjoying the benefit of the bequest. These children are taught the same branches, and enjoy equal advantages in other respects with the other children attending the parish school.


With regard to education [in Rattray], it may be said that there are principally two schools for that important end; the parish school in Old Rattray, and a private one in New Rattray. The parochial teacher has the highest salary allowed by law of L.34 [34], besides the dues of baptisms and marriages, which must amount to some pounds more. His fees may amount to L.15 [15] per annum. The private teacher depends entirely on the fruits of his industry. The numbers attending each school are nearly the same, – upwards of 40; the wages for beginners are 2s. [10p] per quarter; 2s. 6d. [121/2p] for reading and writing; and 3s. [15p] for arithmetic and Latin. Both masters profess to teach Latin, arithmetic, writing and English. I have reason to believe they are not deficient in attention and diligence. Besides these, there are schools on a lower scale kept chiefly by females, chiefly for young girls; and some occasionally kept by males for the benefit of those in the remote parts of the parish. Perhaps there are none of five years of age but have begun to learn to read; and none farther advanced but are taught both to read and write. The blessing of education is brought within the reach of all classes in society. If they are poor, the kirk-session pay for them; if they are in a better situation, they can easily furnish the expense from their own industry.

Some extracts from Blairgowrie High School Log book
The school's log book had to be written up at the end of each week by the Headmaster. Here are some of the entries made by Mr Robert Robb.


On Monday 28th inst., at the special request of the Town Council, a holiday was given, on the occasion of the King's passing through Blairgowrie. The pupils assembled at the schools, and marched in procession to the space reserved for them. After the King has passed they were dismissed for the day.

Attendance has been very good all week. Miss Pennycook has been back at work, and lessons have gone on according to the timetable.


The weather has been very bad all week, and the attendance has suffered. Work has been going on as usual. Tomorrow (Saturday) a cake and candy sale is to be held in aid of the War Relief Funds, and for the last day or two the pupils have been rather unsettled on that account.


Attendance has improved very considerably this week. Mr Brown is still absent, ill, and by medical orders, has gone off for a short time to recruit. Miss Mackay is taking her class with her own, the two classes being divisions of Sen II. Mr Millar H.M.I.S. had a conference with the School Board, and with Colonel Noad [?], regarding the requisition of the school by the military authorities. Mr Millar being satisfied that it was a matter of "urgent military necessity", sanctioned the handing over of the school; and thereafter he and the Board visited various halls in the town with a view to getting accommodation for the scholars during the time the military are to have the school.


Work has gone on under difficulties, the halls in which the pupils are now accommodated not been [being?] adapted for school work, and some of the necessary alterations not being yet completed, In particular, the Science Room in the St Andre's Church halls has not been available. It is now completed, however, and will be ready for use on Monday. Ventilation in several of the halls leaves much to be desired. Still in the circumstances, the pupils are fairly comfortable, and by next week work should be going on fairly smoothly. Miss Peddie's successor has not yet taken up her duties, and this has added to the difficulties.


The Science Room is now completed, and work of H.G. Department us proceeding more smoothly. Attendance has much improved, but yesterday, owing to stormy weather, it was much reduced. Miss Murdoch, Sewing Superintendant, visited school on Monday 25th inst., and Mr Bates, Organiser of Instruction, on Thursday 28th inst., for a little during the forenoon. Mrs McLaren took up her duties as Miss Peddie's successor (interim) on Monday, 25th inst.

Some extracts from Rattray Public School Log Book
Headmaster: Mr C H Owen

October 1908

Twenty-five exemptions (out of 41 applications) were granted by the School Board for potato lifting. Many are absent without leave.

July 1912

... it was reported to the Convenor of the School Management Committee that an epidemic of measles had broken out in the school... Dr Revie [Medical Officer of the Borough] intimated his opinion that it was necessary that the school should be closed forthwith.

Setember 1914

Visit of Miss Murdoch, Superintendant of Sewing, to encourage girls and staff in a Guild Movement aiming at making of articles of clothing to relieve distress in Belgium caused by the War.

Mr Sim... left ..to offer his services as a Reservist.

November 1914

2 boxes of garments made by girls and boys were dispatched to Miss Murdoch... for the troops etc.

18th October 1915

By arrangement with the School Board, Mr Fyfe's Supplementary Class with Mr Fyfe have been sent to this school during occupancy of the High School by military. Class and teacher have to be added to the toll and staff of this school – as per HMI instructions.

29th October 1915

Mr Fyfe was absent today arranging for his departure. The Board has given him permission to join HM Forces.

April 1916

The Labour Battalion Troops are drilling in playground on certain days 9.30 - 12.

September 1916

A special matinee... is being given at the cinema this afternoon – in aid of Limbless Soldiers Fund. About 100 of our children are attending.

April 1917

Prisoners of War Flag Day – 9 collected by pupils of this school.

Nov 1918

...influenza... is spreading throughout the school.... the actual number of cases is now about 70 but it is spreading to in families at such a rate... an order closing the school is being made out – for one week...
[In the event, the closure lasted two weeks]

January 1919

Mr C W Sim Assistant Teacher (Sergeant in Gordon Highlanders) resumed (on being discharged) duty today.

February 1919

Mr Sim has been absent all week owing to illness (the effect of his wounds).

Mr T Fyfe Assistant Teacher... returned from military service and resumed work today. Being convalescent he did a partial day's work this week 10am to 1pm.

September 1919

To commemorate Peace an extra week's holiday has been granted.

Do you recognise anyone in this photo taken at Hill Primary School in 1979?


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