Dunipace Primary School

Dunipace School Board was established in 1873 and had a very clear task in front of it.  An assessment of the situation was quickly formed and it was soon established that two schools were required – one in the west end of the parish at Dunipace and one at the east end near Torwood.  The old parochial school at Dunipace was handed over to the Board and it was decided to rebuild it on a more substantial scale.  Whilst other school boards were holding meetings and endlessly discussing their requirements, Dunipace School Board quietly got on with the task in hand.  Mr Allan of Stirling drew up the plans and in May 1874 tenders were advertised:

To CONTRACTORS.  TENDERS are WANTED of the several WORKS required in Erecting TWO NEW SCHOOLS and a SCHOOLMASTER’S HOUSE for the Parish Dunipace. —Parties desirous of tendering therefore to send in their Names to Mr Allan, Architect, Stirling; to Mr ROBERT TENNENT, Clerk to the School Board.  Dunipace, 30th April 1874. 

Illus 1: Ordnance Survey Map of 1896/97 (National Library of Scotland).

Work proceeded rapidly under Alexander Forbes, builder.  The new buildings were set at the back of the plot and this would have allowed the old ones to continue in use until the replacement was ready.  The following July the materials of the old school were sold off.  The residential house of the master was attached to the west side of the new school and had its own entrance from the road.

Illus : The School of 1874 looking north-west.

At first the policy of the school board was to charge fees from the pupils’ parents in order to keep local taxation low, but in 1876 Denny School Board accused it of deliberately lowering them in order to attract pupils from its area.

Robert Tennant had been the teacher at the old parochial school and he continued as the head teacher of the Dunipace Public School.  He was now accompanied by several assistant teachers and pupil teachers.  In 1880, for example, Miss Jessie Haining was appointed as assistant in the Infant and Industrial Department at the school.  The total salaries in 1882 amounted to £317. 

Tennant had been made the clerk of the new School Board in 1873, but retired from the post in 1882 when it was realised that this was in conflict with the Education Act.

The population at Dunipace grew slowly compared to that west of Denny and it was 1895 before the Dunipace School Board saw the need to extend the school.  At the time there were 112 pupils in the infant room taught by one assistant and one pupil teacher. 

Mr Mitchell, architect, Coatbridge, was commissioned to furnish accommodation for a further fifty scholars.  The plans were amended on numerous occasions and additional offices included in the scheme. These delays meant that is was 1903 before the new wing was added to the north of the head teacher’s house and extra ground was feued to its west to replace the open ground taken up by it.  A loan of £1,300 was agreed with the Education Department, repayable over forty years.

Reorganisation of the facilities was inevitable once education was run on the county level of Stirlingshire and in 1930 it was decided that the Advanced Division Classes at Dunipace School should be discontinued and the pupils transferred to Denny School.  The school had made use of Thistle Park for its outdoor games but in 1939 this was taken over for housing and so the playground at the school was extended and improved.

During the Second World War Dunipace School was the focus of many concerts and entertainments designed at raising funds for various aspects of the war effort.  The children also collected huge quantities of brambles and rosehips.  In 1941 Dunipace was chosen to take part in an experiment in communal feeding.  It was a huge success and as a result school meals were introduced throughout the area.

Illus 4: Dunipace School looking north. c1992.
Illus 3: 1913/18 Ordnance Survey Plan showing the School with the 1903 Extension (National Library of Scotland).

Allan Gillies attended Dunipace School in the 1950s and recalled that the part in the centre of the picture was where the head teacher, Mr Bisset, taught primaries 6 and 7 in the same classroom.  On the right was the main entrance with the teachers’ small staff room facing the photographer.  This room was also used for other purposes, including regular examinations by a visiting nurse (including those for nits).  Rosehips were weighed on the nurse’s scales.  Beyond the front classroom there was a large foyer, where the older pupils hung their coats, and to the left was the dinner hall which doubled as a gymnasium.  Behind that was a classroom for primaries 4 and 5.  At the back of the school was the third and final classroom where primaries 1-3 were taught.  This room had a folding partition (Gillies 2018, 48-49).

In the 1970s new housing estates were put up in Dunipace and demand for places at the school increased.  Temporary classrooms (portakabins) were placed in the field to the east of the school – eventually numbering five stand-alone units.

Rumours circulated in 1987 that Central Regional Council wanted to close the school and amalgamate it with that at Denny.  This raised local rivalries and the chairman of the Education Committee reassured the people of Dunipace that it intended to build a new school for Dunipace.  In 1990 land at Tygetshaugh was acquired and shortly afterwards building began on a new primary school.  It was built in 1992 to designs by Tom McCormack, architect with Central Regional Council.  With the opening of the new school in 1993, the old buildings were sold off:

Illus 6: The Portakabins at Dunipace School, 1992 looking north-west (Falkirk Planning Department).

“Regional Council PROPERTY SERVICES Former Dunipace School and Schoolhouse Denny. Sandstone School building dating from 1874 together with a Six apartment Semi-Detached Villa Closing … offers over £70,000.”.

(Stirling Observer 16 March 1994, 19).
Illus 7: Dunipace Primary School with its Belfry in 2000.

Illus 8: The new Dunipace Primary School at Tygotshaugh in 2022 denuded of its belfry.

1873Robert Tennant1907140-237
1907John Mowat1923210
1923John P Hutchison1926
1926John Miller1930
1930Robert Fyfe1933
1933William Mowat Govan1936
1936James Turnbull1943
1943William Walker1945
1946William J Allison
1949Robert Bissett150
Mr Grant
2020sR McAinsh
Stacey Collier-West(present)

Sites and Monuments Record

Denovan Road, DunipaceSMR 2261 &
SMR 1947
NS 8059 8348 &
NS 8082 8348

G.B. Bailey, 2023