Newtown School

Illus: 1854/56 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

At the Royal Commission enquiring into the conditions of the mining population in 1840 Charles Robertson, overseer of the Bo’ness Coal Works noted that :

Since the building of the Newtown the colliers have been more settled as to their place of work, but they still continue to take down very young children, which impedes instruction. Most children can be instructed if the parents please — and fairly so.  There are two schools.  The one in the Newtown has a well-trained teacher from Bathgate Academy, and one is shortly expected at Grangepans.  Men would do well to let their children remain up till thirteen years old, as they would be more use to them thereafter.

The colliers and ironworkers at Newtown and Kinneil had money deducted from their wages to pay for the schools at these two places.  The school also catered for the parents and the parish minister gave evidence at the same Enquiry that:

The day and evening school in Bo’ness, Newtown, is specially for the colliery population, but it is not attended; at present the teacher only receives 7s a week in voluntary fees. The teacher has not been trained. He teaches reading, writing, and arithmetic as well as most adventurers do.”

One of the teachers at Newton was James Adams who, according to Salmon, taught at the Big House there (Salmon 1913, 417).  As Newton was composed of single storey miners’ rows this house may not have been very big.  It was probably the slightly set back building shown on the first edition Ordnance Survey map at the east end of the west block of the south row.  Nearby was the village pump.

The inaugural meeting of Kinneil Reed Band on the 30 June 1858 was held in the Old Schoolroom at Newtown.  All the members were connected with Kinneil Ironworks, who saw the school as their meeting place.  It became the Kinneil Instrumental Band and was still holding its meeting in Newtown School in 1872.  The school presumably closed after the formation of the School Board in 1873 and the schoolroom continued to be used for meetings.  In 1876 temperance lectures were given there.  A Sabbath School also continued to meet there.

National Grid Reference

NewtonNS 9983 8175

G.B. Bailey, 2023