Arnothill School

At a public auction in the Crown Hotel in November 1885 the Falkirk Burgh School Board purchased the private school known as Falkirk Academy for the upset price of £880.  William Black was then tasked with producing plans of the alterations necessary to fit it for its new function as a public school, taking over the role of the Southern School in Park Street which was to be made into a secondary school known as Falkirk High School.  At first the Board considered calling the old Falkirk Academy the Southern School to reflect this, but it was thought that that would be confusing and so it became Arnothill School.  Estimates were obtained for the work and the following accepted: mason work – A Dalziel (£221); joiner work – J & R Lorne (£149 8s 6d); plumber work – Patrick Mickel (£51); plaster work – David McNair (£50 7s 4d); slater work – John Lamb (£10 9s).  The total cost being £482 4s 10d, necessitating the Board to borrow £1,000.  During the work a serious accident occurred.  On 12 April Robert Dalzell, mason, 23 years of age, was at work on a platform on the top storey when a “false” window which had just been built gave way.  He was precipitated to the ground, a distance of about 20ft, rendered unconscious and severely injured about the head and face by falling stone.  He was conveyed home in a cab and attended to by a doctor.

Illus: 1896/98 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

On the ground floor of the new school were the infants’ room, and the first Standard classroom with teacher’s room, and girls’ and boys’ lavatories.  On the second floor, up an elegant staircase, were the classrooms for Standards two, three and four.  Most of the windows in the building had to be rearranged so as to ensure sufficient ventilation.  Formerly the school held 234 pupils; it now had accommodation for 272.  Arnothill Public School opened as a junior school on 6 September 1886, teaching the first four Standards.  Following the suggestion of Mr Jolly, the Schools’ Inspector, Arnothill came under the management of the headmaster of Falkirk High School in Park Street.  George Liddle was put in charge of the junior department at Arnothill.

The role of the school seems to have been rather ambiguous.  It was essentially the junior department of the High School and sometimes classes extended to Standards 5 and 6.  However, when all the other public elementary schools became non fee-paying in 1891 the first years at Arnothill still had to pay.  This caused an outcry but it was 1895 before charges at the school were dropped and the upper two years transferred to the High School.  Attendance figures which had plummeted during the interval then rocketed.  By then the idea had been mooted that Arnothill School and the High School should be amalgamated in a new building.  In 1898 it was agreed that the new High School be worked on the departmental system under the supervision of the rector, Dr Campbell, the head of each department to be responsible to the Board through the Rector.

On the opening of the new High School in Rennie Street on 30 September 1897, Arnothill School was closed, master and pupils being transferred.  The Cockburn Street building was put up for sale and the old desks sold off.=.

“ARNOTHILL PUBLIC SCHOOL FOR SALE. To be sold by public roup, within the Crown Hotel, Falkirk, upon Thursday, the 23rd day of February, that property at Cockburn Street and Arnothill Gardens, Falkirk, known as the Arnothill Public School. Besides the school building, which could be readily converted into dwelling houses, there is a considerable extent of frontage, which could be used for erecting additional buildings. The ground extends in all to 1 rood 5 poles and 13 yards or thereby.  Upset price £800. For further particulars apply to Thomas Gibson, Solicitor, Old Manse Buildings, Falkirk, in whose hands are the title deeds and articles of roup.”

(Falkirk Herald 4 Feb 1899).

It did not find a buyer.  It was re-exposed in March at a reduced price of £700 and still found no sale.  Finally, in August 1899 it was sold at the reduced upset price of £600 to Robert Barr, aerated water manufacturer who then put it up for let as a workshop or warehouse.  After a few years it was converted into dwelling-houses.  These were leased by Stirling County in May 1913 as residences for unmarried members of the police force.  The rent paid for the “barracks” was £54 per annum.

1886George Liddle1891238
1891William Erskine1897110, 170, 230, 292

Sites and Monuments Record

Arnothill GardensSMR 1304NS8852 7985

G.B. Bailey, 2023