Bainsford Public School

By analysing the 1871 census the newly formed Falkirk Burgh School Board was able to determine in 1873 that 347 children in the Bainsford area between 5 and 13 years of age were receiving education; but a further survey in June 1873 showed that not more than 270 were actually receiving education at the two schools in this district. 

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

Negotiations between the Falkirk Burgh School Board and William Dawson over the main school in Bainsford began in the summer of 1873.  In July Dawson offered to grant a lease of the Bainsford Subscription School building for 19 years and any additional ground at a nominal rate.  He would take nothing for the ground and building then present, but any additional ground would be charged at the same rate as to agricultural tenants.  The Board had to arrange with the tenant of the land adjoining the school to get a piece of ground about a quarter of an acre in size for a playground to the school and to pay him the agricultural value which was at £4 an acre.  The lease for the school was agreed at 19 years with power to abandon it on three months’ notice.  At the same time discussion began with the teacher, William Mowat, to retain his services for the Northern School.  This was to be a new school in Grahamston and the older Bainsford children would attend it.  The old school at Bainsford was to be converted into an infant/junior school so that the younger children did not have to cross Bainsford Bridge – the Forth and Clyde Canal was still a busy waterway at that time.

Until the large new school at Grahamston was ready the old school at Bainsford was allowed to continue as before.  The Northern School project took all the attention of the School Board until its opening.  So, it was March 1877 before Bainsford School was properly inspected and was found to be in a fair state and fit to accommodate about 120 scholars.  Repairs were required to the outhouses.  It was decided to appoint a female teacher at a salary of £70 and 150 of the inhabitants of Bainsford petitioned to have Miss Pollock appointed to Bainsford School.  She had been a teacher in Mr Rate’s school but left after a disagreement.  She was given the post and the school opened on 7 May with 38 scholars, increasing to 50 within the fortnight.  By mid June attendance had reached 90 and a pupil teacher, Miss Elizabeth Rankine, had to be appointed.  This was upgraded in December when the count was 120 – far surpassing initial expectations.  Indeed, it necessitated the expansion of the accommodation at the school.  In agreement with William Dawson’s son the lease of the old school was given up and a new feu was taken to the east so that a new street could be formed.  Plans were prepared by A & W Black and estimates totalling £1,600 were obtained.  The construction work took place over the summer of 1878.  The contractors were: mason work – W. Sanderson, Falkirk, £969 15s 9d; joiner work – Braes & White, Linlithgow, £396 2s 7d; slater work – D. Draper, Falkirk, £144; plumber work – D Draper jun, Falkirk, £70 3s 6d; plaster work – James Miller, Falkirk, £32 10s.  A loan was obtained from the Education Department in London, repayable over 40 years, to cover the cost.  Upon opening, early in 1879, a headmaster, William Gilfillan, was put in charge.

The school population continued to grow steadily and by 1888 children were being taught in the corridor.  The matter was exacerbated by the closure of Rate’s School earlier in the year.  A temporary solution was found by the Falkirk Burgh School Board leasing Rate’s old school building.  The Education department approved of the action and so in September that year Mr Gilfillan, the headmaster, removed the infant department to Rate’s School.  This department had 189 pupils on the roll.  Due to other priorities it was 1891 before Mr Black prepared plans for an extension to Bainsford School were sent to the Education Department for approval.  Work began on site that summer and was completed in early April 1892.  The work more than doubled the accommodation, going from 300 to 660 pupils.  It took the form of a two-storey extension with two classrooms on the ground floor, both of which could accommodate 90 scholars; while upstairs there were three rooms in which classes of 60 children could be taught.  It cost £3,214 and a loan of £3,200 was obtained from the Public Works Loan Commissioners to be repaid at an interest of 3.5%.

Illus 2: Bainsford Infant Department looking north-west at the opening.

The infants were brought back to the main building but in a very short space of time the pupil numbers were spilling over.  In 1898 a decision was made to erect a separate infant department which would earn a larger grant from the government.  Progress was slow and in 1902 the School Inspector threatened to withdraw the existing grant due to the overcrowding.  Some of the infants moved back to Rate’s School.  That September the Dean of Guild Court passed plans by A & W Black for the new 410 pupil school to the north-east of the senior one (NS 8867 8155).  The new infant school was ready for the new term in August 1903. 

It was a single storey stone building and consisted of a central hall, around which were grouped the six classrooms, together with a large cookery room and scullery, a room for the staff, a cloakroom, lavatories, and store for drill apparatus. The well-lit hall had three large roof-lights.  The ventilation was on the natural exhaust system, fresh air being admitted into the classrooms by means of bracket tubes in the walls.  Heating was by means of open fires and the chimneys were prominent.  The central hall measured 36ft in length by 24ft broad and was lined all round with a 5ft high white tile dado.  It was to be used for the drilling of the children attending both the senior and infant departments, the older children being brought over for that purpose.  The large playground was connected by a gate with that of the senior department.  The cost of the building was £4,300.  The following were the contractors: mason – John Gardner; joiners – Kellock & Kilgour; slaters – Drummond & Crowe, Laurieston; plumbers – A & G Robertson; plaster and tile work – David MacNair; glazier work – Ure & Paterson; painter – Ferguson & Bell; seating – the Bennet Furnishing Company, Glasgow; grates – Carron Company.

The school faced eastwards onto a new street formed for the occasion and for the future feuing of plots for houses.  This main façade had three gables – one at either end terminating the north and south wings, and a smaller central one over the porch.  Each gable contained a datestone. 

Once the infant department was up and running internal alterations costing £200 were made to the senior school.

Illus: 1913/16 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

During the First World War the Northern School in Grahamston was occupied by the military and so its pupils shared Bainsford School from 1914 to 1917.

Both school blocks at Bainsford still had open fires in 1931.  The Stirling Education Authority could not afford to replace both with central heating and so it decided to make a start with the Infant School, at a cost of £840.  The estimated cost for the senior school was over £900 and the work was deferred until a new extension was built onto it.  In 1932 the plans by the county architect were submitted to the Education Department with an estimated building cost of £1,960.  Comments were returned that for a school the size of Bainsford it should have two halls and the Department requested a larger extension.  The county architect reckoned that this would add a further £1,100 to the bill.  After many exchanges it was agreed to go ahead with a scheme costing £2,400.  In 1933 it took its place in the long queue for school projects.  The economic depression and then the Second World War delayed the work.

Illus 4: The Infant Department during demolition in the 1970s.

In 1944 it was agreed that a dining hall would be added to the senior school at a cost of £851.  Scarcity of materials meant that it was a couple of years before it was ready.  In the event the central heating promised for the Infant Building back in 1931 only materialised in 1951.

In 1978/79 both schools were demolished and replaced with the Bainsford Primary School.

1878William Gilfillan1901300, 408, 515
1905William Erskine1924847
1924Donald Fraser1938
1938James Reside1949
1949William J Allison
Ralph Watson

Sites and Monuments Record

North StreetSMR 1922NS 8875 8155

G.B. Bailey, 2023