The Schools of Denny Parish & Dunipace

When the parishes of Larbert and Dunipace were united in 1624 it was agreed that although there would be only one minister, each of the old parishes would maintain its own church and school.  The small size of the population of Dunipace Parish meant that such provision was not onerous.  More was required at Denny but as usual the heritors whose responsibility it was to fund the school did as little as possible.  In 1845 William Forbes of Callendar, the owner the Herbertshire Estate, made land available on the south side of Duke Street for a new school.  However, he does not seem to have made the site over to the Kirk Session and the building was evidently of a poor quality.

Typically, a note of the total number of school children spread throughout the parish of Denny in 1865 was divided into the different congregations – Church of Scotland 314 pupils; United Presbytery Church 203; Free Church of Scotland 70; Catholic Church 142; total 729 (Falkirk Herald 19 January 1865, 3).  Small villages were springing up at the western end of the parish as a result of the coal mining and many of these supported small adventure schools with the help of the coalmasters.

The 1872 Education Act produced separate school boards for Denny and for Dunipace.  The parochial school at Dunipace was handed over to the school board there without any fuss and with equal purpose of mind was immediately rebuilt on a grander scale in 1874.  A second school was required in the east of the parish at Torwood.  Things were not so simple in Denny.  Although the parochial school in Duke Street was transferred to the Denny School Board an attempt to sell it a few years later was blocked by Forbes.  The Denny Parish School Board had a far more complex task in providing education to its population than had Dunipace.  There were more children of school age and they were more spread about.  The numbers were also increasing as the industry grew.  Nonetheless the Board set about the work with a will and built new schools in Denny and then in the westward area.  The extreme western end of the area was covered by the Kilsyth Landward School Board which was responsible for building Banknock School.  Cumbernauld School Board built the school at Castlecary.  Further east the population living on the north side of the Bonny at Bonnybridge made use of the schools belonging to the Falkirk Parish School Board and there was always an uneasy relationship between that board and the Denny School Board.

In the north the Denny School Board inherited the tiny school at Lawhill.  This was an interesting little school raised by public subscription adjacent to the commonry.  It was never going to be self-sustaining and in 1919 became one of the first to ‘bus’ its pupils into the town.  Those being the days of open carts pulled by horses, a cover had to be insisted upon.

The following Schools are covered in the Inventory:


Bailey, G.B.2002“Ordnance Survey Name Book – Denny” Calatria 16, 45-68.
Dempster, J.1841New Statistical Account for Denny.
Gillies, A.2018Denny and Dunipace in Words and Pictures.
Waugh, J.1981The Vale of Bonny.

G.B. Bailey, 2023