Carronshore School

The Stirling Presbytery in 1841 reported that :

The Committee would advert to some gratifying and encouraging circumstances.  There is, this year, an entirely new feature in the educational operations of this district, viz, an infant school in the parish of Larbert, which, though but in its infancy, having been in operation only for a few months, is taught with great energy and skill; and the labours of the teacher have been attended with astonishing success.  And it is an interesting and instructive fact that, under the same roof, separated by a partition, there is another new school of 100 scholars, and, notwithstanding all this, the old schools are still supported.”

The school was the fruition of work by many local people urged on by Rev Mr Bonar of Larbert.  After discussions with Colonel Dundas of Carronhall in 1839 a site was identified and Bonar set about raising the necessary money, soliciting donations from friends and many subscriptions from local people (£75).  The school-house was erected in 1840 and Col. Dundas’s agent established a trust for the running of the school so that it could receive grant aid from the Government.  The trust deed gave the entire power over the property to Col. Dundas, and his neighbours, Sir Michael Bruce of Stenhouse and Mr Bruce of Kinnaird, along with the minister of the parish.  Despite all the arrangements the application for support from the Government failed and instead a salary of £10 a year was obtained from the Education Committee of the General Assembly.  So, on 10 February 1841, eleven months after his appointment to the situation at Carronshore, Mr Thomson was placed upon the list of the Assembly’s teachers.  Most of his wage came through fees. 

The school-room at Carronshore was large – being 52ft long – and was divided by a moveable wooden partition, so that the infant and female school could be held in one division, while the other division was appropriated to a juvenile school.  A properly qualified person, Miss Masterton, was soon procured to take charge of the infant school and all of her salary came from the pupils’ payments.  Both teachers discharged their duties well and everything went on prosperously, until the Disruption of 1843.  Both teachers were dismissed and the Established Church usurped control and appointed replacements.

In 1858 the Ordnance Surveys noted it as:

A small school in the village of Carronshore.   The usual branches taught.   Average attendance of scholars 180.  The master has £15 from government, £15 by subscription, and the school fees which amount to £90 a year, in all £120.   School built by subscription.  Property of Colonel Dundas, Carron Hall, Larbert.

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

The school building lay on the south Back Row, fronting onto the street with a playground to the south.  The site was immediately to the west of the old customs house known as the King’s Cellar and does not appear on the 1781 map (RHP 44339).

As it was now under the management of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland it was called “Carronshore General Assembly School.”  It was taken over by the Larbert School Board in 1873.  Hugh Martin was the last teacher in the Central Assembly School, Carronshore.  The problems facing the Board were neatly summed up in a letter to the local newspaper:

The deficiency in accommodation here is gross, but here a number of interests are involved which effectively bar the way to immediate reform.  In the first place, about 80 of the scholars come from Bothkennar Parish.  Carronshore being situated nearly equally in both parishes, the expenses of the additions would require to be mutually borne by both.  But surely no Board would ever think of squandering money on a building in the situation of this school; for not only is the situation positively pestiferous, but there is altogether a want of room for an extension.  Besides, a teacher’s house (which should always be near the school) is required here, no suitable house accommodation for a teacher being to be had in this vicinity and it is not to be expected that a good man will stay long where he cannot settle down.  Granting, then, that leave was got to dispense with this school, the Government grant for building purposes of £1 per scholar, and nearly £100 for teacher’s house, together with what would be realised from sale of the old building, would go a long way towards paying for a new school and school house in a more suitable and healthy situation; but here again the Board’s hands are tied, and will be so for some time to come, for Mr Wilson’s congregation has a right to worship in the present building, and until he gets his new church erected the Board cannot make a move.”

(Falkirk Herald 22 January 1876, 3).

In July 1876 the Larbert School Board agreed to an additional classroom at Carronshore School.  The gardens on either side of the school were to be secured and added to the playground.  The Larbert Board met with the Bothkennar School Board and were pleasantly surprised when the latter agreed to pay one third of the cost of a new school at Carronshore to accommodate 250 pupils.  Alternative plans for a new school, or for repairs and additions to the existing school, were prepared by Mr Black, architect.  Unsurprisingly the Board went for the new school on a site further to the north-west on Main Street at a cost of £1,250, (the repairs and additions to the existing building would have cost £800 plus the cost of the adjacent feu).  At the time the site was outside of the village.  The new single storey school opened in 1878 along with a schoolmaster’s house.

Illus 2: Carronshore Parish Church.

The villagers immediately petitioned to have the old school building officially adopted as a church and for the missionary based there to be ordained.  It was seated for 350 and gas was introduced at their own expense.  By 1882 Rev Henry Wilson had been acting as a missionary at Carronshore for 20 years.  It was decided to upgrade the building and the feu was obtained for £800, which in­cluded a large piece of land to the south.  The old school building was bought by Mr W T Mitchell, ironfounder, on behalf of the Larbert Kirk Session.  Part of the old building was cleared away and new walls built. 

The Gothic front of the church faced north with an entrance at the north-west corner utilising one of the school’s porches.  The new door continued the Gothic design, the previous door being converted to a window.   At the north-east end a new gable was built which included a belfry at the apex surmounted by an iron finial and a panel bearing the date 1882 on the face.  The gable carried two large windows and an external egress.   The roof was entirely renewed.  The plans and design were by A & W Black, architects, Falkirk.   The church was opened January 1883 and was demolished and houses built on the site in 2005.

By 1889 the accommodation at the new school was overcrowded.  Part of the problem was that far more children were going to the school from Bothkennar Parish than had been agreed and the school board there was loathe to contribute more money.  Consequently some of those from Longdyke were expelled and this had the desired effect of bringing the Bothkennar School Board back to the negotiating table.  It was agreed that that Board would pay for the accommodation of 50 additional pupils.  As the plans produced by Mr Black were for an extension for 146 scholars this meant that they were to pay 50/146 of the total cost which was put at under £800.  His plan was to add an extra storey to the whole of the existing school with the exception of one classroom at the south end.  Until this was ready the surplus pupils were taught in the public hall in Carronshore. 

Illus 3: Carronshore Public School on Main Street.

Only five years later an addition was erected for a further 208 pupils!  The result was actually an over-capacity.  By 1905 the School Inspectors were not satisfied with the accommodation.  The classes were too large and so the official overall capacity was much reduced.  The solution was to reconfigure the internal structure to produce more classrooms of a smaller size and this was achieved the following year.

In 1911 the Department of Education reshaped the areas under the control of the school boards in order to avoid the need for combination schools.  As a result of this part of Grangemouth Parish was amalgamated with Larbert so that the whole of Carronshore and Longdyke now came under its sole remit.  The school building at Carronshore was now creaking at the seams and this gave the impetus to start afresh.

Illus 4: The School of 1912.

With an ample supply of mains water the cloak-rooms and lavatories were admirably arranged and equipped.  The entranceway was from the public road by means of a cement footway 75yds long by 7yds broad.  There was a large school garden, a large boys’ playground to the north-west of the school, and a girls’ playground.  The contractors were: builders – Messrs J J & P McLachlan, Stenhousemuir; joiner – Alex Cowan, Larbert; slater – William Black, Larbert; plasterers – James Millar & Sons, Falkirk; plumber – David Smith, Stenhousemuir; painter – John Hamilton, Larbert; tile work – David Macnair, Falkirk; glazier work – Daniel O’May, Falkirk; heating engineers – Mackenzie & Moncur, Edinburgh; gates and railings – Messrs Marshall, Stirling; iron work – Davie & Sons, Stirling; furnishings & linoleum – George Wink, Stenhousemuir.

The new building opened officially on 27 April 1912 at a cost of nearly £5,000 to the design of McLuckie and Walker, architects, Stirling.  It was located behind the old building and was completely detached from it.  The block was two storeys in height and contained ten classrooms, affording accommodation for 560 scholars, as well as staff rooms for male and female teachers.  The school, though plain in design, had a fine appearance, owing to the colour effect – the walls being of red-pressed brick, relieved with white stone dressings, while the projecting roof was covered with Craiglea blue slates.  The central hall was 47ft long by 24ft broad and was laid with a pitch-pine wood-block floor, splendidly lighted from the roof and sides.  The headmistress’s room was a large and well-lighted apartment, specially adapted for the medical inspection of the school children. 

Illus 5: The Girls’ Entrance to Carronshore School just before demolition in the late 1980s.

The old school building was re-modelled and was used to teach senior scholars in technical work, such as woodwork, cookery, and laundry work.  The senior pupils at Carron School went to Carronshore School for these technical classes.

Only two years after it had been built, Carronshore School was used as a military billet.  The pupils from Carronshore had to travel to Carron School and in 1914 only received half-day schooling, from 1pm until 4.30pm.  After the war the overcrowding at the new school had reached such an extent that it was decided to bring back a couple of the classrooms in the old building and to appoint an additional teacher for it.

At the beginning of the Second World War, Dawson Park School was taken over for use as an ambulance station and so its pupils attended Carronshore School.  Three classrooms in the old building were cleaned and brought back into use.  In November 1940 these pupils were transferred to the Northern School.  Then, after Dunkirk, Carron Public School was requisitioned for the military and its pupils were able to attend Carronshore Public School.  By the end of 1940 full-time education was being given there to the children of Carron and Carronshore Schools, except those in three infant classes, who were receiving half-time education.  During the war Carronshore School became the centre of community fundraising efforts, the collection of salvage material, and entertainment activities.   When the Polish army left Carron School, things returned to normal, but in 1947 those children formerly enrolled in the Secondary Department (post qualifying classes) of Carron School reported to Carronshore Public School at the beginning of term.

In the 1970s a modern school was built at the north end of Carronshore to replace the old one.  The 1912 structure lay empty for several years before finally being demolished in the 1980s and in 1985 a community centre was erected on the site.

c1836William Buchanan1837
1840Mr Thomson1843
1856John Horne1859
Mr Rankin
Mr Tait
Thomas Smith
Hugh Martin1875
1875David M Philips1916503
1917John Dickson1930417
1930John P Hutchison1938
1938Richard Stewart1946
1946Peter C Maclean

Sites and Monuments Record

Church Street thenSMR 129 &NS 8933 8292 then
Main StreetSMR 1937NS 8909 8303

G.B. Bailey, 2023