Denny Parochial School

Little is known of the early history of the school provided for the Parish of Denny by its Heritors.  As was normal these landowners did as little as possible.  A schoolhouse is mentioned in the Kirk Session records as early as 1661 when the Session met there.  In 1845, as Rev John Dempster was writing the New Statistical Account of the parish, a new structure was being erected:

A commodious building, adjoin to the town of Denny, for the parochial school, is now in progress.  The structure will be an ornament to the town, and serve, among other parochial improvements, to give evidence of the care with which Mr Forbes attends to the educational interest of the youth of the parish, and the domestic comfort of the teacher.”

Illus: 1861/62 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland) with the Parochial School on the left.

In 1861 the Ordnance Survey Name Book tells us that it was:

A large plain building in connection with the Established Church, comprising the teacher’s residence and schoolroom.   Average number of scholars, males 60, females 40, total 100.  Teacher’s salary £34.4.4  ½ with about £22 in fees.”

Yet only twenty years after Dempster’s account the succeeding parish minister thought that the situation was becoming intolerable.  At his annual inspection of the educational standards of the school in 1865 the minister, Rev John McLaren, was very critical, stating that:

year after year he had in vain called attention to the insufficiency of the school accommodation; and hoped that the heritors had now begun to think of improving the manse and church, they would extend their improvements so as to embrace the school.  He considered it most disheartening to the teacher, and detrimental to the health of the children, to be condemned to occupy for so many hours a day so small a space in so damp a room.”

(Falkirk Herald 6 April 1865, 2).

The Denny Parochial School legally came into the possession of the Denny School Board in 1873 as a result of the Education Act of 1872.  However, the ownership of the site, as opposed to the building, was questioned in 1876 when the Board tried to sell it and William Forbes of Callendar claimed a right to it and threatened an interdict on its sale.  The Board was asked to produce its title deeds.

(1709-1722)Walter Baird

National Grid Reference

Duke StreetNS 8088 8274

G.B. Bailey, 2023