Carron School East


An ‘ironworks school’ belonging to the Carron Company is first mentioned in 1791 but may already have been in existence. In that year Ebenezer Picken, a very scholarly man, was persuaded to take up the post of schoolmaster at Carron (presumably the one at East Carron rather than West Carron). It was known as the ‘Clubroom School’ because the classroom was in a building belonging to the Carron Founder’s Friendly Society (the Carron Club). This was a two-storey building near Stenhouse Mill – just north of where the roundabout is now. The schoolroom measured 22ft by 24ft and occupied the first floor of the building, being reached by an external stair at the west gable. Whilst the room was provided by the Company the master’s wages were derived from the pupils’ fees.

Illus 1: 1859 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

Whilst studying as a student of divinity, James Wright taught at Carron.  In later life he became known for praying with his eyes open and claimed that this was due to the bad behaviour of the children at Carron which had required him to keep a watch on them.  Under the guidance of dominie Smith, with the assistance of monitors and a Mrs Williamson, the Clubroom School thrived.  Maps of the world adorned the walls.  In the 1820s and 1830s up to 130 pupils attended.  The fees were 3d a week, which for many was deducted from their father’s wages at Carron Works.  Books were provided for an extra 1d a week; and an additional ½d provided copy-books, quill pens and ink.

In 1859 the Ordnance Surveyors described the school as :

A private adventure school.   The ordinary branches of an English education taught.   Average attendance 75.  Property of the Carron Co, Carron Iron Works per Wm Dawson Esq, manager.” 

Unusually, they did not give the condition of the building.  However, William Jack described it as “a dirty, tumbledown place, its sanitary surroundings disgusting” (see Watters 2004).

1791Ebenezer Picken1796
Robert Smith1838/1843
Campbell brothers
William Geddes1855
Mr Russell

The school was criticised by the Education Commissioners in 1866.  It may have been for that reason that Carron Company built a new school onto the north gable of the Carron Inn at East Carron.  It was officially opened on 2 May 1868 and cost £1,000.  It was the size of a modest church hall and at the west end of the classroom was a wooden balustrade with a swing gate which separated the master from his pupils.  Outside there were the usual two playgrounds, one for boys and one for girls.  Just a year later an extension was added.  It opened with a staff of Mr Paterson, the head teacher, Miss Henderson, female teacher, and two pupil teachers.

Illus 2: 1950 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

In 1872 the Parish School Board was happy to leave the education of the children of this area in the hands of Carron Company.  Short-hand and typing were amongst the subjects taught.  The Falkirk Herald described it as a “spacious and splendidly equipped school” (10 April 1873, 5).  In 1879 the Company arranged for evening lessons to be held in the building for its workforce.  Subjects included mechanics.  It soon became evident that the increase in the size of the population meant that the school building was too small for the area.  The Carron Company was unwilling to pay for further extensions as it already paid a considerable amount towards education in the rates; and the School Board were unwilling to contribute funds to a private school.  Consequently, in 1900 it was closed and the pupils moved to Carron Public School.  The old school building was subsequently used as a meeting hall, a chapel and a dance hall.  It was eventually demolished in the 1960s.

Illus 3 : 1932 Aerial Photograph of Carron Ironworks showing the school just right of the centre at the bottom.
1868James Paterson1880180
1880Richard Whyte1900220

National Grid Reference

East CarronNS 8823 8268 &
NS 8821 8252

G.B. Bailey, 2023