Castlecary Public School

Illus 1: Aerial Photograph Castlecary School with the Castlecary Railway Viaduct behind, c1950.

The site chosen was on the north side of the Bonnybridge to Castlecary road, just east of its junction with the main Falkirk to Glasgow road.  The school building is T-shaped in plan, with gables on the north and south ends of the west wing and on the end of the east wing.  The south and west walls are of local dressed sandstone, with a chamfered plinth course on the south façade.  The north and east walls are of harled brick.  The latter has two narrow buttresses and was designed to allow for an eastward extension if required.  The extension would have been for “120 scholars” and would have completed the H-plan, making the composite structure symmetrical.  It was never needed.

The south-facing gable at the west end of the building was intended to dominate the road.  The date of construction appears on a shield towards the top of the gable.  Four tall window apertures, separated by narrow stone mullions, provided plenty of daylight for the classrooms.  The main door was set centrally into the façade to the right of the gable. 

The school officially opened on 13 September 1909 for children aged four to ten years from the village of Castlecary.  Miss Dent was the first teacher, but no house was provided.  The siting of the building was somewhat incongruous, as it was commissioned by the Cumbernauld School Board and yet was located in East Stirlingshire where there was already a school at Longcroft.  It is clear that the Board was not in favour of the project which was insisted upon them by the Scottish Education Department, and consequently was poorly supported.  A loan of £1,550 was needed for the building.  Falkirk School Board was very poor at contributing its fair share of money for the pupils from its area that attended the school. 

Illus 2: The opening in September 1909. Of the School Board there were present, in addition to the chairman, Thomas Duncan of Dunblane, J.P., the Rev. John Ogilvie, MA, and RB Henderson. Courtesy of Jim Walker.

A raised gablet above the doorway gave it extra prominence and bore the cipher CSB for Cumbernauld School Board (not Castlecary as I have sometimes heard tell).  To either side of the door are two small two-light windows opening into the cloakrooms.  Ventilation was a major concern in 1909 and the walls are studded with fretwork cast iron grills covering ventilation shafts – both below and above floor level.  Vents in the ceilings led to roof cowls; one appearing above the door on the man façade (from the hall), and two on the apex as seen from the west side (one for each of the classrooms).

Illus 3: The South Façade of the School Building. Proposed Extension on the right.
Castlecary Public School as built in 1909. Courtesy of Jim Walker.

Each classroom had a fireplace on the east and raked seating on the west.  The seating in the northern classroom was slightly wider, presumably for the older children.  The window in the north gable was similar to that in the south gable.  Between the classrooms was a wooden partition.  The lower parts of the walls of the hall and classrooms had tongue and groove timber panelling.  Toilet accommodation for the children was provided at either end of an open-fronted play shed built against the north boundary wall.

Illus 5: Plan of the School in 1909.

Owing to its rural nature and the difficulty for the teachers in finding convenient accommodation the school only opened at 10am each day.  As the dispute over payment to Cumbernauld escalated in 1921 the Falkirk School Board insisted that children from Allandale travelled to Greenhill.  The pupil numbers at Castlecary School fell to such a level that one of the two teachers was transferred to Cumbernauld School.  The Cumbernauld School Board noted that running Castlecary cost it £700 per annum and that there was still £1,066 to pay back on the loan.  Negotiations to transfer the property to Stirlingshire had begun in 1919 and two years later it finally happened.  In 1922 the two teachers were also transferred to the Stirlingshire payroll.  Now there were problems in reverse – pupils from the Cumbernauld area not paying to go to the school even though the Cumbernauld Board should have been paying £5 per annum per child!

1936 saw the removal of the drinking well in the playground as it was often damaged out of school hours.  It was replaced by a tap inside the building.  Later that year electric lighting was introduced.

The school finally closed in the early 1970s, being disposed of by Central Regional Council, and is now a private residence.

1909Miss E Dent191246
1915Miss Margaret W Marshall191985

Sites and Monuments Record

Walton Road, CastlecarySMR 1652NS 7904 7835

G.B. Bailey, 2023