Bo’ness Infant School

Illus 1: 1855/56 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

This school seems to have been founded shortly before 1850 on the south side of South Street by the Duke of Hamilton as an infant school and was managed on his behalf by a group of local trustees.  The school occupied the south side of an open square off the street, suggesting that it was a public building from an early date.  Latterly it had housed Arnott’s School.  In 1855 the Ordnance Surveyors noted that it was:

A small plain building in good repair.   Large enough to afford accommodation for about 110, the average number of attendants is about 50.  The scholars are all below six years of age, so the branches taught are the minor ones.  Miss Murray is the school mistress and her salary is composed of the school fees, and a government grant.  The Duke of Hamilton supplies the schoolhouse and a large playground attached, free of all expense to the infants of Borrowstounness.

At the setting up of the Bo’ness School Board in 1873 negotiations were opened with the Duke of Hamilton’s trustees through his Kinneil chamberlain.  The chamberlain responded that they were willing to grant a title to the Infant’s School, together with the playground and the whole pertinents belonging thereto, free of ground rent or feu duty, if the managers of the school were willing to hand it over to the School Board; but under this reservation, that the minister of the parish should be entitled to the use of the school at such times and for such purposes as shall not interfere with the free and full use thereof by the School Board.  At the same time a specially convened meeting of the Infant School Managers agreed to the handover.  Arrangements were immediately made by the school Board to extend the school as part of an overall plan which included the construction of a replacement for the parochial school. 

Illus 2: The old Infant School looking south west.

The construction of an extension at South Street was abandoned and instead a complete rebuild was scheduled using plans prepared by John Paterson of Edinburgh.  Work was started on site in November 1876 by the following contractors: Drysdale, Bo’ness, mason work; James White, Grangepans, joiner work; Robert Dick, Bo’ness, slater and plasterer work; and Stewart & Rae, Edinburgh, plumber and gasfitter work.  John Paul was appointed clerk of works.  The single-storey building measured 51ft 2ins by 23ft 4ins, having a classroom with two galleries 28ft long by 21ft broad, and was fitted up with iron stands and seats to accommodate 220 children.  Cloakrooms and lavatories were also provided.  It was entered by a door in the centre of the front façade with a bell tower above.  To either side of the doorway were three elliptically arched windows.  The large playground was strongly fenced with an iron railing 7ft in height.  The teaching staff included a head mistress and three pupil teachers.

In 1893 a large extension was added to the south.  Despite this, by 1899 it was the policy of the School Board to make the Public School the only one school for the centre of Bo’ness and to get rid of the Anderson Academy and the Infant School.  Both schools continued for decades!  With plans afoot for the new Bo’ness Academy in 1928 it was tacitly agreed that the Infant School would be closed.  Shortly afterwards it was put up for sale.

Illus 3: 1895 Ordnance Survey Map showing the rear extension to the Infant School (National Library of Scotland).

In 1936 the building was extensively modified by Millar and Black, architects, to make a Baptist church with seating for 242 persons. They changed the front façade and placed an entrance porch to one side. The distinctive ventilation cowl on the roof was added and various supporting beams and flat roofed areas at the back. New walls were harled or rendered brick. From the 1960s the building was used as a warehouse, offices, a nursing home and then bed-sits – with numerous internal alterations occurring. The building was converted into a single dwelling called Dalriada House in 2012, with work beginning on the main street frontage. The east side was remodelled in 2018.

Year ArrivedHeadteacherYear LeftNo. Pupils
(1855)Miss Murray
1873Miss Small91
1877Miss Smith200
(1885)Miss Adams
(1891)Miss Paterson160
(1893)Miss Craig144
1895Miss Agnes Brown1923172
1923Mrs Hardie (pro tem)

Sites and Monuments Record

South StreetSMR 2013NS 9992 8163

G.B. Bailey, 2023