Bothkennar Public School

Bothkennar Parochial School was taken over by the Bothkennar Parish School Board when it was formed in 1873.  Unusually, the headmaster was appointed as the treasurer and clerk to the Board.  The initial report that the Board commissioned suggested that there was a deficiency of accommodation for the children in the eastern district to the number of 68, and in the western, chiefly Carronshore, to the number of 25.  Deducting a considerable percentage from these numbers for children not at school from proper causes, the report stated that extra accommodation for 60 would meet the requirements of the Parish.  Seeing that the chief portion of these would be best accommodated at the existing Bothkennar school, it recommended an addition there of a class-room. The report also recommended a small addition to the teacher’s house and Thomas McFadzen, architect, was asked to draw out the necessary plans.  The work appears to have involved a large extension to the rear and the Board obtained a loan from the Public Works Loan Commissioners. 

Illus: 1895/97 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The Board then met with the Larbert School Board at Carronshore in 1877 to discuss accommodation there as the eastern part of the village lay within Bothkennar Parish and the western in Larbert.  Details of these arrangements will be found under Carronshore School.  Provision in a neighbouring authority proved to be a thorny problem and later members of the Bothkennar Board were slow in increasing provision there.  Likewise, it felt that secondary education was best provided in one of the local towns such as Grangemouth, Larbert or Falkirk, and consequently did little about it.

In 1892 Bothkennar became one of the first in the area to introduce a “museum” to the school.  This was a cabinet of curios to spark the imagination.  W S Stevenson was a progressive headmaster and spoke at conferences about the benefits of such collections.  Evening classes were introduced and were attended by 20-30 people.  It was at this time that a supply of mains water was obtained from the Falkirk and Larbert Water Trust for the school and schoolhouse.

In 1900 William Black drew up plans for a proposed extension to the infant department due to overcrowding.  Much discussion followed and it was soon realised that it might be cheaper to construct a new building.  However, before anything seems to have been done the Bothkennar School Board was abolished and the area came under the control of the Grangemouth Parish School Board.  This coincided with a depopulation of Bothkennar.  In May 1901 it was reported that there were 311 pupils on the roll, by October 1912 this had fallen to around 195 and in December 1928 to only 90.

Illus: Bothkennar Public School Gala Day 1907.

In 1922 the school was transferred to the care of the Airth and Bothkennar School Management Committee and subsequently to the County Council.  Few changes were made to the school over the following decades.  At the outbreak of the Second World War in September 1939 the lower classes only attended part-time, but once sufficient air raid shelters had been constructed normality, of a sort, resumed.  In 1941 school meals were introduced and were enthusiastically embraced.

The building continued to serve the local community until the 1960s.  It was demolished and rebuilt c1969.

Illus: Bothkennar School c1910.

A community hall was built at the school in 2014.  Bothkennar Primary School was temporarily closed (mothballed) in August 2019 after the school roll had fallen to four pupils having been declining over a number of years.  Beancross Primary School became the catchment school for primary pupils living in this area and this will remain the case following the decision to permanently close the school.

1873Mr Ferguson1889180
1889Mr W S Stevenson1899
1899W P Cooper1916230
1916Mr J T Smellie (temp)190
Thomas McEwan193290
1932John D Hutton193777
1937Alexander Abercrombie1946
1946Charles W McLean
1949Mr Walker
1950sMr Goodwin
c1974Douglas Semple

Sites and Monuments Record

Main Street, SkinflatsSMR 1976NS 9080 8335

G.B. Bailey, 2023