Dennyloanhead Iron School & Dennyloanhead School

In 1905 the Denny School Board decided to erect a new school at Dennyloanhead to relieve the congestion in Longcroft School, and to provide accommodation for the children who until then had been attending Bonnybridge School in the Falkirk parish, and who, owing to overcrowding in that particular school, had been compelled to leave it.  The Board was faced with a situation where the population of the area was expanding at an immense rate but which might at any time contract equally fast.  The school was therefore seen as temporary until Longcroft School could be expanded or a “permanent” School built elsewhere.  Therefore the new school was built of iron and wood and consequently became known as the “Iron School.”  It was situated on the south side of the main road just to the west of the junction of the Denny and Bonnybridge roads and consisted of two classrooms, each 27th x 22ft 6ins inside, and one classroom 24ft x 22ft 6ins, providing accommodation for 180 children.  The roof was an open one (i.e. no ceiling), with sloping rafters.  A teachers’ room was also provided, with the necessary cloakrooms and wash basins.  All the classrooms were well-lighted and ventilated, while slow combustion coal stoves were placed in each classroom.  The flooring was of ordinary white pine, and the walls and roof were lined inside with 3-inch white pine.  The school had a brick foundation, and the ground on which the foundation rested was levelled with the roadway.  On the levelled playground were boys’ and girls’ latrines, under a lean-to galvanised corrugated iron roof with wooden barges to the ends and single-lined partitions to form the divisions.  The building was designed by Speirs & Co, architects, Glasgow, who specialised in the materials used.  It cost roughly £480 and as “Dennyloanhead School” was formally opened on 19 March 1906.

Illus 1: 1913/18 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

Unexpectedly the population continued its rapid expansion and within two years both Longcroft School and the temporary iron one were overcrowded.  The Department of Education would not countenance an extension to the iron school and so a new site between Broomridge Farm and Broomridge Pit was chosen.  The site was 7/8 acre in size and was believed to be free of underground workings.  This last consideration had severely limited the sites available.  James Strang was chosen as the architect.

The new “permanent” Dennyloanhead School building was of brick, roughcast on the outside, and with stone facings at the entrance doors, and all simply treated with overhanging eaves and half-timbered gables.  There were six classrooms, which gave accommodation for 360 scholars, and in addition to these there was a cookery room suitable for 35 children.  All the classrooms were entered from a central hall, 24ft 6ins wide and 52ft long.  The hall was floored with patent wood block flooring and had an open pitch-pine roof.  Two staff rooms also entered from the hall.  The school had three entrance doors – for boys, girls, and infants respectively – each connected to the central hall by a lobby, off which there were suitable cloakrooms.  The ventilation of all the classrooms and the hall was secured by means of fresh air inlet panels in the walls, and foul air outlet ventilators in the ceilings.  The entire building was heated with low-pressure hot water pipes round the walls.  There were two large playgrounds, each having a play shed and suitable latrines.  The contractors were: brick and mason work – Duncan Stewart, Bonnybridge; carpenter and joiner work – Alex Cowan, Larbert; plumber work – Robert Brown, Falkirk; slater work – Drummond and Crowe, Laurieston; plaster, cement and tiler work – D McNair, Falkirk; painter work – O’Brien & Meek, Falkirk; glazier work – D O’May, Falkirk; smith work – R Mercer & Co, Alloa; heating work – James Cormack & Co, Glasgow; asphalt work – D Ritchie & Co, Glasgow; grates – Smith & Wellstood, Bonnybridge.  The cost of the entire building was about £4,000 and the opening ceremony took place on 31 August 1908.

Gas was installed in 1911 and in December an explosion occurred at the meter and some damage was done.  The Town Council was held responsible for making good the damage.  That same year the Denny School Board bought Oakwood as a residence for the headmaster of Dennyloanhead at a cost of £550.  Demand for coal slumped causing great hardship and in March 1912 soup kitchens were established at the Denny and Dennyloanhead Schools, and in the Russell Memorial Hall, for destitute children who were provided with one meal a day consisting of soup and bread. The teachers forewent their Easter breaks to ensure that the programme could continue.

Illus 2: 1913 Ordnance Survey Map showing the temporary and permanent schools at Dennyloanhead (National Library of Scotland).

Despite the precautions taken by the School Board in 1907 it was found in 1930 that substantial damage had been done to the school buildings by underground workings.  After much dispute the neighbouring colliery settled the claim for £200 in 1933 and remedial work was immediately undertaken.

Fundraising for the war effort formed a large part of the school activities during the Second World War.  The Iron School was brought back into full use in November 1939 for the pupils of Dawson Park Special School – their own buildings having been commandeered for ambulance purposes.

Illus 3: 1960/62 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

School meals were introduced during the war and in 1947 a dining room was added.  The Iron School became a community centre in 1947.  Dennyloanhead Primary School continued to serve the district until it was closed on 6 October 1978.  Its last head teacher, Margaret Cook, then became the first head teacher of the new school at Head of Muir.

1906Robert Jenkins1914190
1914Robert Calman1922270
1922James B Wilson1932
1932Richard H Stewart1935
1935Alexander G Beveridge1938
1938Archibald Wilson1945
1945Peter B Grant1952
1952John Wilson1954
1954Andrew McAllister1958
1958Alexander Cook1963
1963Frank Brooks1967
1967William Davies1970
1970Robert N Hunter1975
1975Margaret Cook1978

National Grid Reference

Glasgow Road, DennyloanheadNS 8092 8003
NS 8065 7990

G.B. Bailey, 2023