Grange School

Grange School was officially opened on 27 August 1906.  The school occupies an elevated site at Grange Loan and overlooks the Firth of Forth.  Gifford describes it as a mixture of Art Nouveau and Queen Anne, boldly modelled in snecked rubble (Gifford & Walker 2002, 254).  The walls are of local freestone, and the roof was covered with Ruabon red tiles.  The windows were all of the casement type, the sashes being made to open inwards for convenience and cleaning, and for ventilation. 

Illus 3: Grange School in 1907 looking east.

The original feu from H M Cadell on Philpingstone Road extended to 3.5 acres.  This was about double the ground it was originally proposed to take in, but the Board considered it advisable to preserve the outlook and so secured the whole of the ground to the north with its broad frontage to Philpingstone Road.  The main entrances are from Grange Loan – separate entrances were provided for the boys and the girls.  They opened into the entrance halls, from which the main staircases began.  Adjoining were the cloak rooms, fitted with coat and hat racks bearing individual numbers.  There were also lavatory ranges of wash-hand basins in these entrance halls.  From the main cloak rooms the central hall was reached. 

Into this hall every classroom opened, thus giving the headmaster command of every part of the school building at a glance.  The hall was 90ft long by 30ft broad and was covered almost entirely by a glass roof.  A balcony ran right round, from which the upper classrooms were reached.  Round the walls were blackboards for free arm drawing.  The handsome staircases were wide and easy, having tiled walls and an ornamental handrail and balustrade.  The construction of the stairs was somewhat new for that period, being of steel and concrete, and the treads could be renewed without interfering with the main part of the stair.

There were 18 classrooms in all, eight being situated on the ground floor, and ten on the first floor.  At the east end of the school was the infant department, having a separate entrance from the girls’ playground.  Fourteen of the classrooms had accommodation for 60 pupils each, and the other four for 40 each, thus providing for 1000 pupils in all.  Each classroom had an abundance of light and floor space.  The teachers’ retiring rooms were situated in the north and south wings, overlooking the playgrounds.

Illus 3: Grange School looking north-east.

As always, the heating and ventilating of the school received special attention. Every room had a special outlet leading to the air ducts situated in the roof, and fresh air inlets were provided in the windows of each classroom. The school was heated by hot water throughout, the heating chamber being situated in the basement on the north side. Below the windows were placed radiators, which warmed the air as it came into the rooms. By a special arrangement of flues the rooms could be very quickly heated in the morning before the school was occupied. This was accomplished by means of two outlets, one close to the ceiling and the other at the floor. The upper outlet was closed in the morning while the school was being heated, thus preventing the hot air from passing up the air flues. After the school had assembled this outlet was opened and allowed the ordinary ventilation to take place.

The building was lit throughout by electric light, the whole being controlled by a switchboard in the main hall. Special Tantalum lamps were used for lighting the large hall. The ground floors were made solid, being constructed of concrete with pitch pine flooring, thus significantly reducing any sound. In the north and south classrooms on both floors the rooms were separated by means of sliding partitions. These could be readily opened to form a large classroom if necessary. The desks were of the latest pattern of the dual desk, made of fumed oak and flat varnished. The woodwork of the school was finished throughout in art green stain and varnish, the railings surrounding the balcony being treated in vermilion, which added a brightness and warmth to the hall. Copying a Glasgow system, the walls were left uncoloured until the plaster work became soiled. While this gave the building an unfinished appearance it meant a considerable saving, as the new plaster work looked well for a time.

Illus 4: 1914/15 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The grounds were enclosed by a boundary wall surmounted by iron railings, the extent of the feu causing this to be a very considerable item.  To the south of the school buildings was the girls’ playgrounds made up of blaize.  A covered play-shed and latrines were situated at the east boundary.  Latrines for the infants were also located here.  These latrines were built of white enamelled brick throughout.  To the north was the boys’ playground, occupying the whole slope to Philpingstone Road.  A large part of this ground was levelled and made into a playing pitch.  The remainder was sown in grass, and the north slope facing Philpingstone Road planted with shrubs.

The school was originally estimated to cost £12,000, and adding £1500 for boundary walls, the total cost was not fall far short of £14,000.  It took 19 months to complete.  The architects for the school were H and D Barclay, St Vincent Street, Glasgow, who were specialists in this class of work, having recently erected a technical college in Glasgow, and some 40 other schools throughout the country.  George Donaldson, Bo’ness, was clerk of works.  The various contractors were: mason work – John Hardie & Sons, builders; joiner work – Joseph Duguid; plaster and tile work – James Miller, Falkirk; plumber work – Watson & Son, Perth; painter work – D Grant & Sons, Bo’ness; heating engineers – Hunter, McWilliam & Blair, Glasgow; electrical engineers – Louden Bros, Dundee.

Cadell saw Philpingstone Road as the central axis of a model village and the feu duty of £47.16s which he received from the School Board helped him to lay out the new roads there.

Illus 5: Two views of Grange School looking south-east.

Grange School originally taught primary children and secondary pupils up to the age of fourteen who had not passed the qualifying examination.  When it opened in 1931 the new Bo’ness Academy was a comprehensive secondary school and so Grange became solely a primary school.

Illus 6: Grange School looking east up Grange Loan.
Year ArrivedHeadteacherYear LeftNo. Pupils
1907William Andrew
Mr Gray1931
1931Cornelius Hope1952
1952Alexander Ritchie
(1990)Sheila Mckechnie
Mrs R VeneroniPresent
Illus 7: Two recent views of Grange School looking north-east and north-west.

During the Second World War, Grange School was used to distribute gas masks, as a Rest Centre and as a base for air raid wardens.

In 1968 the kitchen and dining room were reconstructed, having formerly been created after the war from two classrooms.  An east wing was added sometime around 1975 – its flat roofs, white walls and small windows contrasting with the main building.

Sites and Monuments Record

Grange LoanSMR 1506NT 0096 8127

G.B. Bailey, 2022