Grange School

The new Technical School erected on a feu, set in fields and adjoining the Grangemouth Public Park, by the Grangemouth School Board, was formally opened on 4 February 1896.  Called Grange School, it was designed by G Deas Page in the Renaissance style with Jacobean detailing using red sandstone from Locharbriggs Quarry, Dumfries.  The colour contrasted with the green Westmoreland slates and red ceramic ridge piece.  Near square in plan, it had three storeys but the basement was largely hidden from view appearing externally as a plinth.  It was comprised of three north/south ranges set side by side.  The four elevations were treated similarly with three gables or gablets each.  The south and north elevations had three bays, the central slightly advanced.  This contained a central arched entrance set in a Corinthian columned doorpiece under a blind balustrade and with shell-headed flanking windows.  The bay was contained by pilastered angles capped by finials at the lower ends of the gable which contained a large central inscribed panel.  The outer bays had central finialled dormer-heads on the piended roofs of the side wings.

Illus 1: Grange School looking north-east.

The basement floor of the school was used for the heating apparatus, storage, and so on.  It also raised the ground floor above any potential flood waters.  The ground floor housed six classrooms for 72 scholars each, lavatories, teachers’ rooms, and a large central hall.  This hall was for assemblies and could, by means of revolving partitions, be formed into three classrooms also for 72 scholars each, making a total of 648. 

The roof ventilators were a prominent feature and with the tall gables gave the building a palace-like appearance.  The west and east elevations did not possess advanced bays, but the central gable of the west contained a clock.

Illus 2: Grange School in 1901 looking south-east showing the rural setting.

The upper floor rooms were fitted up as an art drawing room, a workshop, a cookery room, a laboratory (including fumigating chambers), and a gymnasium.  The building thus provided accommodation for 864 scholars in all.  The floors of the central hall, the landings and the corridors were composed of steel joists and granolithic pavement, and the walls were lined with tiles.  The furniture and fittings were of oak.  Heating was on the low pressure system.  The conveniences and play sheds were lined with enamelled bricks.  The site, over 2 acres in extent, was enclosed within boundary walls.  The total cost was about £8,300.

Illus 3: The Gallery of the Central Hall (courtesy of Grangemouth Heritage Trust).

The initial subjects taught at the school were cookery, manual training, shorthand, book keeping, chemistry, Latin, French, and German.  The school took scholars from Standard four upwards and was unusual for the time in that no fees were charged in the hope that parents would keep their children at school until their leaving certificate.  Fourth Standard pupils from Dundas and Zetland Schools attended at Grange School for their cookery lessons.  The school was for supplementary education with a wide range of evening classes.

Illus 4: 1896/97 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The school was successful and as more and more pupils stayed on to an older age the building soon filled up; as early as 1907 discussions were held about extending it.  This had been anticipated in the original design making it easy to build a new block to the east.  The HM Inspector recommended joining the two blocks with a corridor.  Instead, a new school was erected a little along the road and opened in 1909 as Grangemouth High School.  This allowed Grange School to be used entirely for elementary work.  The system then adopted was for the children to begin in the Infant School and remain there until they reached the first Standard.  They were then passed on to Dundas School and were taught there until they reached the fourth or fifth Standard.  The children then passed on to Grange School, where their course was completed.  In the case of Zetland School, the children in the old part of the town remained in that school until they reached the fourth standard and were thereafter transferred to Grange School.  This all changed in April 1910 when Grange School was reserved for girls, requiring a reallocation of teachers.  Boys went to Dundas School. 

Illus 5: The Grange Burn looking north with Abbots Road on the left and Grange Church and Grange School on the right, c1905.

The start of the First World War highlighted the poverty of some of the families in Grangemouth and a local Relief Committee established a system of meal provision for the “necessitous” children at the burgh’s schools.  The manual training room at Grange School was fitted with boilers and other apparatus to create a cooking centre and the food was distributed from there.  In October 1914 Lt-Colonel J Boyd Wilson of the 7th Scottish Rifles Territorials requested permission for his men to use the gymnasium at Grange School before the pupils arrived in the morning.  A few months later the regiment, which was billeted in the YMCA hall, decided to requisition the Infant School.  The School Board hurriedly offered them three little-used classrooms in the Grange School, but this was obviously inappropriate.  Instead, the Territorials moved into the Infant School and the three classrooms at Grange were used by the displaced pupils.

After the war the science laboratory in the main building was moved into a building in the playground.  Another part of the playground, at the south-west corner, was given off in 1923 to make part of the road circle which formed a prominent part of the layout of the new war memorial.  It also removed the awkward double bend in Dalratho Road.

Classes from yet another school were temporarily housed at Grange School in 1928 whilst Dundas School was being extensively reconstructed.  This time six classes were involved.  Thereafter the school roll at Grange expanded and in 1936 an extension to it was placed on the building programme then announced by the County Education Authority.  It was to include an additional cookery room and would cost around £1,800, It was ranked as priority 3, meaning that it would be several years before it was executed.  So, in 1938 Grange Church hall was rented at £3 a week which included cleaning, lighting and heating.  In light of the proposed increase in the school-leaving age the super-plan was changed and the new permanent building was to take the form of a brand new school in the new housing area to the south.  To tide the accommodation over, in August 1939, building work began on huts in the playground.  These were of timber and brick with concrete foundations and included cookery rooms and a laundry.  Wall-board insulation meant that they could be used throughout the winter.  Although temporary, they were guaranteed for 20 years.  Work was well underway when war was declared and consequently the project was allowed to be completed.  Surface shelters were erected in the playground sufficient to accommodate the 600 pupils. 

In June 1940 the RAF decided to requisition Grange School to provide billets for those based at the nearby airfield.  After negotiations with the School Board it was agreed that only the new annexe should be taken over as a short-term measure.  The first airmen moved in on 14 July and a fence was erected to separate the annexe from the school.  Due to the shortage of material it was largely made of canvas and soon blew down.  The airmen left on 13 February but shortly afterwards the WAAFs moved in.  New toilets were installed inside the annexe for them and the outside lavatories were returned to the school.  The small hall in the playground was also released, permitting the girls using Kerse Church Hall for classes to return to the school complex.  A new entrance was cut through the boundary wall so that the WAAFs had direct access to Ronaldshay Crescent and did not have to share an entrance with the schoolgirls.  For the school this meant that 600 pupils of 17 classes were squeezed into 15 rooms and consequently many of the pupils only received half-time tuition.

After the war a dining room was erected in the playground and the lavatory accommodation was further increased.  Further cloakrooms accommodation was added over the summer of 1951.  This was needed because two groups of girls drawn from all over the county were undertaking nursery school training twice weekly.  The school roll of 650 continued to grow as more houses were built and in 1954 a class had to be accommodated in Charing Cross Church hall.  The following year two huts containing four temporary classrooms were built.  They were occupied in August 1955 and meant that the church hall could be relinquished – the roll had increased to 750.

As the new schools at Beancross, Moray, Bowhouse and so on came on stream they relieved the pressure on Grange School.  The secondary department was closed in 1958 and it became Grange Primary School.  Late in 1968 or early 1969 a fire broke out in the huts.  The children evacuated the buildings and watched as their possessions were consumed by the flames.  Fire had always been a problem at the school but this was the most damaging.  Other instances had occurred:

Illus 6: Grange School looking northeast, c1950.
  • November 1930: shortly after 4 o’clock a fire, which had been smouldering behind a fireplace for a day or two, was detected by Miss Robertson, and was put out by the staff.
  • February 1944: smoke was observed issuing through the door of the ladies’ staff room and the alarm was raised.  Andrew Blair, school janitor, assisted by Miss Drummond, a member of the staff, successfully extinguished the outbreak after ten minutes by means of a stirrup pump.  Meantime, the children were evacuated to the air raid shelters.  The prompt action meant that damage was minimal.
  • October 1947: one Saturday night a passer-by saw the glare of a fire inside the school and summoned the fire brigade.  It was discovered that a gas ring had been left on and that part of the walls had been badly burned.  Damage was estimated at about £50.

Between 1974 and 1988 Grangemouth operated two of its schools as middle schools and Grange School became one of the feeder schools.  In July 1988, Moray and Abbotsgrange Middle schools closed, ending the three-tier experiment. Dundas and Grange Primary Schools were then closed.  Grange School was sold to a developer for conversion into flats but upon close inspection the foundations were supposedly found to be suspect.  The cost of underpinning the walls was deemed to be too high and in 1998 this beautiful building was demolished.

Illus 7: 1968/69 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland) showing the turning circle in front of the War Memorial and the Annexe linked by a corridor to the east Grange School.  The huts extend along the east and north boundary walls.
YEAR ARRIVEDHEADTEACHERYEAR LEFTNo. PUPILS
1895Michael Gavin1901373, 497
1901Charles W Thomson1904490
1904Peter Auchinachie1910320
1910Donald Fraser1924459, 420
1924James Reside1938390
1938Miss Jessie S Martin1946600
1947Miss Margaret M Urie1967
1967Mr McLean880

Sites and Monuments Record

Dalratho RoadSMR 273NS 9290 8170

G.B.Bailey, 2023