Brockville Boarding and Day Seminary

In 1851 Brockville House and grounds were purchased from Mrs Sworde’s Trustees for £500 by Dr James Tennent of Falkirk.  He died there on 25 April 1854 at the age of 48 years and for the next 26 years the house was rented out.  The first tenants were the Misses Wilson who opened a seminary for young ladies after the summer vacation in 1854.  The following advertisement gives an idea of the ethos of the school:

BOARDING AND DAY ESTABLISHMENT for the EDUCATION OF YOUNG LADIES, Brockville House, near Falkirk. THE FIRST QUARTER of the SECOND SESSION will commence on Thursday the 9th of August. The Misses Wilson receive limited number of Young Ladies for Board and Education, to whose piety, manners, health, and comfort they give devoted attention.

The Course of Education is comprehensive, and embraces the following branches: English, in which is included History, Physical and Political Geography, Grammar, Etymological Derivations, use of globes, Astronomy, Reading and Analysis of English Poetry, and Composition on Religious, Moral, and Scientific Subjects; Music, Vocal and Instrumental – special attention is given to the Theory of Music; Drawing in Pencil, Chalk, and Crayon; French and German, in which the Misses Wilson are assisted by accomplished English and Foreign Governesses.

Terms may be had on application at Brockville House.

(Falkirk Herald FH 2 August 1855, 1).

The vast majority of the girls were day pupils with only a handful of boarders.  It provided a homely atmosphere – a country house in the town.  For Christmas 1856 a Christmas tree was provided, complete with lighted wax tapers and presents for the infants suspended from its branches.  The school prospered and more subjects were added to the curriculum.  In 1857 James Pollock from the parochial school was brought in to conduct classes in elocution, arithmetic, and general literature; the year after he married one of the Wilson sisters.  The pupils of Brockville School were able to perform concerts in the parish school.  In 1859 Monsieur Wojenski taught classes in French and German, for which a charge of 10s 6d each per quarter was made.

James Pollock got a post as principal of Catterick Academy and so in 1860 he and his wife moved to Yorkshire and the goodwill of Brockville was offered for sale:

“TO BE DISPOSED OF, WITH IMMEDIATE ENTRY, SEMINARY & BOARDING ESTABLISHMENT FOR YOUNG LADIES, BROCKVILLE HOUSE, FALKIRK. IN consequence of Mr Pollock’s appointment to be Principal of Catterick Academy, Yorkshire, rendering it necessary for Mrs Pollock to discontinue her present charge for Falkirk, a most eligible opening is now offered to parties who may be fully qualified for taking up and carrying on the above well-known Establishment.

The situation possesses peculiar advantages, and the Day School has for a number of years been the leading one for Young ladies, in a populous and wealthy district; while the House affords suitable accommodation for Boarders, who are readily obtained.

To a competent party, having the command of a little capital, such an opportunity rarely presents itself.  None need apply who cannot undertake the various branches of a first-rate education, and give undoubted references.  Such a party would receive the support of a number of the influential inhabitants, who are interested in the maintenance of a superior school in Falkirk.

The furniture and fittings are every way adapted to the House, and may be had at a valuation, if required.

For further particulars, application may be made to the Misses Wilson, Brockville House…”

(Falkirk Herald 5 January 1860, 1).

Two ladies from Edinburgh, Mrs Moffat and Miss Stillie, were selected from among many applicants, by the heads of a number of families in Falkirk, and an arrangement was effected which enabled them to continue the seminary.  Mrs Moffat was the widow of Rev Moffat, missionary in India.  The furniture was sold off.  They ran the school until 1862:

Mrs MOFFAT begs to return thanks to the inhabitants of Falkirk and its vicinity for the liberal patronage bestowed on herself and MISS STILLIE during the time they have conducted the Establishment at Brockville House.

In leaving Falkirk, she can with great confidence recommend as her successors Mrs and Misses DOUGLAS, whose professional attainments and experience in managing a similar Institution in Manchester, qualify them in no ordinary degree for taking charge of the Education of Young ladies in all its branches.” 

(Falkirk Herald FH 22 May 1862, 1).

The Douglasses took two boarders each term.  In 1865 they received “a select number” of little boys under ten years of age.  Falkirk witnessed an unusual phenomenon in the late 1860s when the art classes run by Mr Wright were exceptionally popular and directly led to the establishment of the Falkirk Science and Art School.  In 1866 he was given the opportunity to hold drawing classes at Brockville, which he continued to do for another six years.  Likewise, over the following years, R Riddell, Professor of Music in Edinburgh, made weekly visits to the school.  The school changed hands again in 1873, now being run by the Misses Macgregor, but times were changing and the school finally closed late in 1879.  In 1881 the house was sold by the Tennent family to the Caledonian Railway Company.

1854Misses Wilson (Pollock)1860
1860Mrs Moffat & Miss Stillie1862
1862Mrs & Misses Douglas1873
1873Misses Macgregor1879

Sites and Monuments Record

Brockville House, Hope StreetSMR 986NS 8856 8029

G.B. Bailey, 2023