St. Patrick’s RC School

In 1858 moves began to build a Roman Catholic chapel and school at Denny.  Land was acquired on the west side of Gote Loan and the school was opened on 1 December 1861.  It was a small building with its east gable against the road.  It was new at the time that the Ordnance Surveyors wrote their report:

The  school  was  ordered  to be opened by  the  Rev  John  McDonald (Falkirk)  for the purpose of instructing the poor children  belonging to  the Roman Catholic religion.   The teacher receives fees from his pupils amounting to about £30.0.0 per annum and £1.0.0 per month from the personal fund of the Rev John McDonald.  The common branches of education are as yet taught.”

Illus 1: 1861/62 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

It was not long before the school had to be significantly enlarged and a new building was constructed parallel to the street hard up against the pavement.  Its distinctive south gable was crowstepped.  The Catholic Church acquired the land up to Stirling Street and built a small church there.  Both school and chapel were known as St Patrick’s.  A much larger church was then constructed to its west and when it opened in April 1890 it was dedicated to St. Alexander.

Illus : Denny RC School looking north-west in 1919.

In 1899 a west wing was added to the north end of the school.  This provided additional accommodation for 100 pupils and extra office space.  The old part of the school was divided into three classrooms by moveable partitions, and the lighting and ventilation improved.  Its use as an entertainment hall and lecture room was not lost sight of as partitions could easily be opened and the desks and seats neatly stacked.  The entrance hall or cloakroom was fitted with hand water basins.  At the same time the playground was upgraded and shelter sheds provided.

Illus 3: 1896/97 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

Even this addition was soon outgrown. It was January 1932 before the Stirling County Education Authority agreed to build a new school at an estimated cost of £11,000. In October 1932 it presented the Scottish Education Department with drawings of the proposed building on the opposite side of Gote Loan. The Department replied that after carefully considering the plans, which were of an unusual and original type providing the maximum amount of light and air to all parts of the building, it needed the assurance that the cost of the building would not be appreciably more than one of a simpler plan. The County Architect replied that the total sum was not much different and agreed to lower the ceilings from 12ft high to 11ft in order to keep costs down. In the meantime, the church hall had to be pressed into service to take the overflow.

Illus 4: The 1861 School with the 1899 Wing seen in 2022.
Illus 5: Aerial Photograph clearly showing the star-shaped plan of St Patrick’s School, north-east, c1970.

Building operations began in May 1933 and the school was formally declared open on 31 August 1934.  The road had been widened to 40ft adjoining the school feu which extended to approximately 5.5 acres.  The school, built of brick and roughcast, was arranged like a wheel in plan with the classrooms emanating like spokes from an octagonal hub.  This arrangement supposedly permitted the maximum amount of air and ventilation.  At the core was an octagonal-shaped assembly hall with one of the staff rooms against one of its walls, connected by means of two doors with the hall so that it could be used as a retiring room when any special functions were held.  A portable platform was provided.   The hall was connected by open corridors to the classrooms, with concreted open courts between the corridors.  There were seven classrooms, each for 50 pupils, including a large baby room.  This and the other infant room were fitted with individual pigeon-holed cupboards for storing each pupil’s exercises.  In close proximity to these two rooms were two small cloakrooms and lavatories for the exclusive use of the small pupils.  For the older pupils two main cloakrooms, lavatories, a medical room, two staff rooms, and stores were also provided.  The grounds around the school were laid in tar-macadam and asphalt, with grass playgrounds beyond.  To the south of, and apart from, the main building, was a block containing two play-sheds.  The cost of the scheme from plans by the County Council’s own architect, Mr A N Malcolm, was in the region of £14,000.  It accommodated about 350 pupils.

Illus 6: St Patrick’s School looking north-east (Courtesy of Falkirk Planning Department)


The ventilation was too good – the building was cold and draughty.  Central Regional Council built a replacement with eleven classrooms on a site just to the north-west and it opened in April 1982.  The old building became an employment hub but has since been demolished and replaced with the Carronbank Medical Centre.  The name of the street was also changed from Gote Loan to Carronbank Crescent, presumably for reasons of asthetics.

The contractors were: preparation of the site, brick, etc – R D & J Gardner, Stirling; joiner work – A Williamson & Son, Grangemouth; glazier work – D O’May Ltd, Falkirk; slater and roughcast works – D Robertson & Son, Denny; plaster work – J Paris & Son, Alloa; plumber work – G Taylor, Falkirk; heating work – Taylor & Frazer ltd, Glasgow; electrical work – E Masson, Denny; drainage and playgrounds – Stark & Dobbie, Kilsyth; railings and gates – A & J Main & Co, Glasgow; painter work – J Lambert, Denny; furniture – J D Bennett Ltd, Glasgow; cupboards – Paterson & Grindlay, Kilsyth. Linoleum – Wm Forbes & Son, Stirling; blackboards – Wilson & Garden, Kilsyth.

Illus 7: Aerial Photograph looking west with the 1933 School at the bottom right and its replacement to right.
Illus 8: St Patrick’s School looking south in 2022.
Illus 9: The Entrance to St Patrick’s School in 2022 looking north-east down the slope.
Miss Rafferty1883
Mr Morris1893
1893Miss Jane McCormack1899
1960sMr Flynn
Anne o’Donnell2022
Karen Downie (acting)(present)

Sites and Monuments Record

Gote Loan, DennySMR 1584NS 8112 8298 &
NS 8122 8305 & NS 8111 8309

G.B. Bailey, 2023