Larbert Village School

In 1854 the school beside Larbert Parish Church was found to be too small for the requirements of the village, and a new school was built by the Kirk Session near Larbert Station in 1857.  This school was known as Larbert Session School.  The Ordnance Surveyors of 1859 described it as :

A sessional school built in 1857 partly by the government and partly by the parish.   French and Latin are taught along with the ordinary branches of an English education.   The teacher’s salary is made up from the fees of the pupils, £20 from the parish and the government allowance.   Average attendance 80.  It is situated in the west of the railway and south of Larbert Station.” 

The first teacher of the Sessional School was William Shaw, who for a few years before 1857 had been teacher of the old School near the church. 

Larbert Sessional School was handed over to the School Board in 1873, and after that date it was called Larbert Village Public School.  Mr Black, architect, drew up plans for an extension in 1876 and in February 1877 Mr Hendry, proprietor of the land next the school agreed to feu quarter of an acre to the School Board at the rate of £16 per acre.  The work was undertaken in 1877 and cost about £600.  The extension accommodated 100 scholars, making 226 in all, and provided offices and an enlarged playground.  The contractors were: William Reid for mason work – £331.14.9; Robert Watson for joiner work – £164.0.8; D. Draper for slater work – £39.10.4; D. Draper for plumber work – £22.4.1; James Millar for plaster work – £28.0.0: Total 585.9.2.

Illus 1: 1860 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

In 1886 Shaw was succeeded as master by John Paterson, who had a most successful career as a teacher both in the Sessional School and in the Larbert Village School.  It was during his tenure that a new school building was erected a little to the west.  The new school was built in 1890 and officially opened in September 1891.  It was of two storeys and measured 70ft by 52ft; and along with the playground occupied an acre of ground.  It had four classrooms, each 33ft by 23ft, designed by A & W Black, architects, to hold 300 scholars.  The cost was put at £3,500.  The old school building was sold off.

Illus 2: The 1891 School, c1908.

The style of the building has been described as restrained late Victorian Classical.  The main façade faced the Main Street and was constructed of ashlar masonry, channelled at the ground floor.  It was composed of three bays, each containing paired rectangular windows, the two outer bays at each end slightly advanced with Corinthian pilasters at the corners of their upper floor.  The jambs of the ground-floor windows are treated as attached Roman Doric piers; whilst those of the first floor are framed and have consoled cornices.  As at Carron Public School, there were separate entrances for boys and girls housed in porches at either end of the building.

By April 1893 the school had six teachers and three pupil teachers and it was already too small.  The retiring rooms for the teachers and some of the cloakrooms were used as classrooms.  Black drew up more plans and in 1892 William Reid was appointed as the contractor for the new offices.  At the end of 1893 construction began on a new wing which opened in April 1894 and included a new cookery room.

1897 saw the formation of a separate department for the infants and Maggie Rintoul was appointed as its headmistress.  Mr Black produced plans for a new school block to the south of the original.  In 1904 this Infant Department was built at a cost of nearly £4,000 and opened on 9 August.  The playground was divided into two separate parts by a wall between the two buildings until May 1929, when a gateway was constructed in order to provide easy access to the lavatories. 

Illus 3: The Infant Department of Larbert Village School looking east from Eastcroft Street, c1908.

The First World War saw the military occupy the new Infant block of Larbert Village School in 1914, resulting in half-day instruction for the infant and junior classes in the main block.

Illus 4: Girls’ Cookery Class, 1924.

From 1930 onwards there were a number of minor modifications.  The galleries in the classrooms were removed.  Electric lighting was fitted in the Main Block in 1935.  The teak blocks in the floor of the hall were laid in 1936.  Then, in January 1937, the teachers and pupils of the Special School were transferred to Dawson Park School.

Illus 6: Larbert Village School looking south-east in 2022. The single-storey wing of 1947 can be seen on the right.

On 21 November 1928 the Advanced Division of Larbert Village School was discontinued and all pupils over the age of 12 years then attended Larbert Central School.  The children from the Infant Department moved into the Main Building.  The old Infant Block was then used to accommodate Special Classes and children from Camelon, Falkirk, Carron and Stenhousemuir were bussed there.  In 1930 the Special School had three classrooms with four permanent teachers and one temporary.  Numbers were so large that it was decided to transfer the science room in the Infant Department to room 18 in the main building.

Illus 5: Boys’ Woodwork Class, 1928.

In 1939 war was declared and a brick air raid shelter was constructed in the playground.  In August 1940 the West Yorkshire Regiment took over the woodwork hut and the Senior School was also requisitioned.  The Advanced Division with Primaries Va and Vb moved to Larbert Central School.  For a while the Senior Block was occupied by the Royal Artillery and latterly by a Polish military unit which left on 15 May 1944. 

On their departure it was found that much damage had been done to the interior and dry rot was discovered.  The building was refurbished to plans by Mr McLaren, the county architect, in 1948-1950.  The main building was largely gutted and only re-opened in September 1950.  Eight classrooms were created, four on each floor, serviced by two new well-lighted staircases.  A central hall on the ground floor could be used for physical training.  Staff rooms were incorporated into the first floor.  A medical room, and toilets, were integrated through matching additional single-storey wings.  The interiors were relatively plain, in keeping with the austerity standards imposed by the Scottish Education Department.  An unusual feature was a wireless system.


With the opening of Ladeside Primary School in October 1969 all the pupils at the Village School could be accommodated in the Main Block and so in 1972 the old Infant Building, often known as the “Wee School,” was demolished.  Here a dining-room and general purposes room was built and opened on 3 November 1985.  Built of large concrete blocks with a drab pyramidal tile roof it was rather bland.  This annexe replaced the wooden hut which had served as the dining-room and sewing room, and which was then demolished.

Illus 7: Larbert Village Primary School looking north-east with the main block in the background.

A new primary school was built on to the west of the annexe in the first decade of the twentieth century.  Its façade, which faces west, has a prominent overhang to the mono-pitched roof, supported by five enormous tapering steel columns, to provide a sheltered playground.  Brightly coloured horizontal bars attached to the upper sections of the columns give it a playful feel.

1857William Shaw1886
1886John Paterson1896300
1896William R Young1913498
1913Thomas McGookin1929
1929David Clark1931
1931William Cooper1935
1935Robert Leishman1938
Miss Stewart1937Infant Div
Miss Jean BallantyneInfant Div
1938George Hinchcliffe1953
1953William Graham1961
1961John Marshall1969
1969David Neilson1979
1979Magnus Dunsire1983
1983Evelyn Crosbie1985
1985Edith Doherty/Newton1991

Sites and Monuments Record

Main StSMR 2301NS 8595 8238

G.B. Bailey, 2023