Haggs School

The school at Haggs served the western portion of Denny Parish and was evidently built by the local landowner as a private school.  It stood on the southern side of the main road from Bonnybridge to Kilsyth, not far from Banknock House.  Haggs was a mining village which expanded with the demand for coal from Carron Company and subsequent industries.  It is therefore probable that the school was established to meet the needs of the colliers at the very beginning of the nineteenth century.  Waugh, in his book on the Vale of Bonny (1981, 47) confuses this school with that at Dennyloanhead, though he does add that it was built by public subscription about 1800.  From 1828 the parish minister, Rev John Dempster, used it as a preaching station.

Seeing the pathetic conditions of the residents of Haggs, Dempster was determined to better their plight and naturally considered that the best way to do so was to create a quoad sacra church there and to improve the school.  Things came to a head in 1836 when there was no teacher and he was unable to gain access to the school building for his activities.  By coincidence the ownership of the building also changed at around the same time and through his contacts Dempster was able to acquire the property, as he explained to William Forbes when he solicited a donation for the school:

a favourable opening presents itself for doing something for the education of the people at the Hags, provided £70 or £80 or thereby could be obtained. There is a place at the Hags which has for sometime been used as a school house, where I have generally preached when I have administered the ordinances there, but from which, by the teacher being a voluntary, I was shut out both I and my substitute on the Assembly Fast 23d July last, and I have not preached in it since. The small feu of about a rood of ground on which this teaching place stands and the adjoining house are to be sold, or as I may say are now sold to me. For long I have tried to get ground to feu at the Hags for a school room and preaching station, but have never till now from the difficulty of getting ground, and from the poverty of the inhabitants been able to do any thing effectual. But this place having so opportunely offered I resolved trusting in Him who provided gold and silver to Solomon to build the temple and under him to some few wealthy and influential friends who are happy to honour God with their substance to purchase this place and I have learned today from one of the Elders in that quarter who has managed the matter for me that Mr. Marshall who has purchased £12000 worth of the east barony of Kilsyth and who is the proprietor of that feu at the Hags has agreed to let me have it for £60 Sterling – There is an annual feu duty of 21/ is to be paid – the rents are said to be £6 pr annum. My object if I could accomplish it is first to get this feu vested in myself and then to dispose it to the Minister and Elders of the parish of Denny for the time being making it a condition that they shall give over their Title to the Minister and Elders of the parish of the Hags when that shall be erected for the purpose of securing a school house and dwelling house to a qualified teacher in communion with the Established Church and a small salary that is so much as may remain free after paying the feu duty and keeping the premises in repair. It would be an object to be able to purchase the feu which might require £30. I mean the annual feu duty of 21/ payable to Mr Cuthil merchant in Denny – it would make the salary better. I am at present as I was to day informed liable for the £60 of purchase money I am willing to give £10 gratuitously to the object, and I am in hope I may make up the rest as I have said among my honourable and kind friends. Will you favour me with your opinion on this matter, and your suggestions, and I need not say how much I shall feel indebted to you for your love of my flock, and their unworthy pastor. If you are pleased to help by such donation as you think proper to attain the impatient object I have much at heart, and have long had. A schoolmaster well affected to church and state would do much to form the minds of the population there as you and I wish the public mind to be formed

[Forbes Papers 1232/1; 9 Jan 1836]

Eight months later he wrote to Forbes, who was then a Member of Parliament, about another possible source of funding:

“I observe it is reported in the paper I see that Parliament have voted £10,000 for education in Scotland. I do not see that the Hags Church School will be brought into the state in which it were desirable to see it without government aid. I mean without delay to get all the amounts in and have the school house and ground on which it stands and playground valued and to request you to transmit them to the home office if you shall approve. The immediate object of this letter is to submit to you whether it might not be proper forthwith to lodge with the home office a notice of our intended application for part of the £10,000 grant and that the particulars will be furnished shortly. Should there be many demands on the fund which I think there is a likelihood will be the case and the fund speedily exhausted it might be of advantage I submit, to have our claim early entered . You know whether the only rule of applying the funds in cases approved is the date of the application- Should that be the case an early notice is of consequence. I have succeeded in collecting funds wonderfully- but I find the £30 which are indispensable for the lowest scale of making the establishment tolerable and so easily forthcoming as I once thought they might be. Many to whom I have applied like yourself and respected Mother readily and liberally have responded – but I am now meeting with refusals or vexed with no reply at all. Mr. Oats, architect, Stirling misled me as to the amount of repairs I might anticipate. He estimated them at £3. To the wright for his amount of repairs I paid last Thursday £29 for repairs chiefly on the teachers two small apartments and without which I am satisfied the present respectable teacher would not have been at all decently accommodated. I have before me outstanding accounts for flags, stones, quarrying and driving and the work of a labourer amounting £15.16.11½. The masons account is not yet rendered. These things are indispensable. The iron rail before the school and two convenient places for the Master and pupils will be required to make the school what it ought to be. But I must stop till more funds are procured when the mason work in progress (repairs) is finished. Government aid might perhaps accomplish all I have mentioned – at any rate it should I think meet the demands at present unsettled. You will have the goodness to consider what should be done and allow me to hope that you would as early as possible attend to….

[Forbes Papers 1232/3; 16 Aug 1836]

Having secured the future of the school and placed it under the superintendence of the Education Committee of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, money was found to make substantial alterations to the building and the work was executed in 1839 and Mr Ure of Stenhousemuir appointed as the teacher.  Additional funds were provided by Colonel Abercrombie MP, William Lennie of Ballockneuk, and the contractors on the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway which was being built then.

Illus: 1859/62 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

In 1855 it was noted that whilst the parochial school at Haggs might have been a good building in earlier times it was by no means a thing of beauty then.  It was damp and dismal, perhaps due to the floor being below the level of the road.  There was a house and a garden adjacent to it for the teacher.  The Education Committee of the Church allowed the teacher what was called a fair supplementary allowance plus school fees, as noted by the Ordnance Surveyors in 1859:

A school situated in the village of Haggs in connection with the Established Church.  Average number of scholars, males 30, females 20, total 50.   The teacher is supported solely by the fees of the pupils.  Built in 1839.   The rudimentary branches of education are taught.

In 1870 the newly formed Denny Parochial Board condemned Haggs School and recommended that it should be shut up, along with that at Longcroft. James Russel of Longcroft observed that if the instructions of the committee were carried out, that part of the parish would have no means of education whatever.  He admitted that the school was not in a proper state, but if it was shut up great harm would be done to the locality.  The result, indeed, would be “most mischievous.”  As it happened, the chairman of the Parochial Board and, after its formation in 1873, of the Denny School Board, was William Wilson who by then owned most of Haggs and Banknock.  He also claimed ownership of the school at Longcroft.

At the very first meeting of the Denny School Board in 1873 Wilson handed over the school at Longcroft to it.  This encouraged Rev Alexander Falconer to push the church to do the same with Haggs School.  After consulting the Presbytery and the inhabitants of the village, Haggs School was also handed over.  Upon reviewing its properties, the Denny School Board quickly decided that the two existing schools at Haggs and Longcroft could be amalgamated into a new building.  Lessons continued at Haggs until 1876 when the new Longcroft School was ready and the pupils were transferred to it.  The Old School at Haggs, or “Aulde Schule” as it was called locally, was rented out for meetings and for many years was the headquarters of the local branch of the Rechabites.  In 1933 it was acquired by the Banknock and Haggs Women’s Labour Section.  It continued to be used until 1935 when it was demolished and subsequently a community centre was constructed to its south.

Rather confusingly, the new Longcroft School was so close to Haggs that it was sometimes referred to as Haggs School.  It was replaced in 1955 by the “Banknock and Haggs School.”

1838Mr Urec1845
c1846Walter Gardnerc1855
1850sMr Yule
1850sMr Osborne
1850sMr Lyall
c1855Mr Brown
c1855James Black Cameron186250

Sites and Monuments Record

Kilsyth Road, BanknockSMR 1990NS 7877 7929

G.B. Bailey, 2023