Bothkennar Parish School

The original parish school for Bothkennar probably stood adjacent to the Parish Church on the site now occupied by the Beild.  In the seventeenth century Bothkennar was a rural area with a dispersed population farming the rich carse lands.  Only a handful of houses appear to have been located near the church, forming a centre for services.  The first schoolmaster noted in this research was Henry Warden in 1659 (Register of Sasines).  Samuel Black is noted in April 1723, though he did not even remain at Bothkennar for a whole year before moving on to Torryburn.  His appointment by the Heritors had to be approved by the Kirk Session and the Presbytery, as did those of many of his successors.  A month after Black’s appointment the minister purchased some dales and trees for the use of the kirk and school.  The wood used in the kirk was probably for minor repairs, but that for the school seems to have been for more substantial work and may have been one of the reasons why Black did not stay long.  Indeed, a sasine of 1719 mentions land set aside near Teindyards for

making ane entry to the school house of Bothkennar

(Reid notes).  

A few years later, in April 1725 the Kirk Session and Heritors acknowledged the handover of the school building, the schoolhouse and yard, and the associated sasine, from Alexander Callander of Westerton – the small estate immediately to the west of the church.  They gave :

an obligation on Stampt paper that these things Received shall be forthcoming for the publick use of the Church and paroch, in time coming.”

This was somewhat irregular as it was for those same Heritors to commission and oversee the building work, and it appears that Callander undertook it in desperation, presumably with the collusion of the session.  That this was the case is shown by the next step.  In June 1725

the Session Considering that the house and School, with the yard presently possessed by the Schoolmr, belongs to this Session, being purchased with the poors money Order their officer to warn the Schoolmr to flit and remove from the sd houses and yaird as at Martinmas first, that the Heritors may be obliged to proind him in both, and to return Execution of the same to the first Lords Day after forenoons Sermon to affix the same to the most patent Church door, that no pretend ignorance, and to Report his diligence to the nixt Session.” 

The result was the raising of a tax on the landowners

the Money to be Sought in Immediately for building the school at fourteen pence on the oxgate.” 

Just a year later, Adam Liddell was asked to provide straw for the schoolmaster’s house.  Further repairs were carried out to it in 1730.

Illus: 1859/62 Ordnance Survey Map showing the location of the Bothkennar School at the north end of the miners’ rows (National Library of Scotland).

In 1859 it was described as the :

Parish school, average number of scholars about 80 males and 80 females.   Teacher’s salary £54, along with the registration fees of the parish.   There is a free house and garden attached.  Greek, Latin and Mathematics are taught.” . 

(Ordnance Survey Name Book)

There was a public house to either side of the school!  That on the north became the Argyll Inn and subsequently the Dutch Inn.

By the end of the seventeenth century a harbour for the export of coal on the River Carron was developing at the extreme western end of the parish and this became Quarroleshore, later renamed Carronshore.  It belonged to the proprietors of Carronhall – the Elphinstones and then the Dundas family.  It was taken over in 1761 by the Carron Company and grew rapidly, requiring a school in the village.  This was provided by the Dundas family and the local community – see under Larbert Parish.

The arrival of the Carron Company and the subsequent industrial revolution led to a huge demand for coal and a mining village was created at Skinflats, well to the east of the parish church.  The Heritors responded to the changing situation by constructing a new school building at the north end of the village of Skinflats.  The exact date is not known, but it must have been around 1840.  The school would have been a single storey structure with the two storey schoolhouse attached to its northern side (comparison with Larbert suggest that the lower storey of which served as a second classroom).

Illus: Detail from the 1859/62 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

In 1865 the Heritors added a large classroom to the school.  Although no detail is given, this may have been achieved through the addition of a tall upper storey.  It was taken over by the Bothkennar Parish School Board when it was formed in 1873. 

(1659)Henry Warden
(1701)Alexander Cheisly
1723Samuel Black1723
1723John Ferguson1727
1728William Young1736
1736Robert Geddes
1857Mr Ferguson1873180

Sites and Monuments Record

Main Street, SkinflatsSMR 1976NS 9080 8335

G.B. Bailey, 2023