Drumbowie School

The erection of a large number of colliers’ houses at Standburn by James Nimmo & Co in the late 1860s and 1870s led to a demand for a school in the vicinity.  The Muiravonside School Board acted with commendable speed and acquired a feu on the other side of the Bowhouse Burn from the village at Drumbowie.  Plans were obtained from A & W Black, architects, Falkirk, and early in 1877 estimates were requested:

“To Contractors.  Estimates for the Mason, Joiner, Slater, Plumber, and Plaster Work of School and Teacher’s House, to be Erected by the Muiravonside School Board at Drumbowie.  Schedules of Quantities to be obtained from and Plans to be seen with A. & W. Black, architects, Falkirk, after Thursday the 15th inst.  Offers to be lodged with colonel Stirling, Tarduff, by Linlithgow, on or before Thursday the 1st March, marked on outside, “Tender for Drumbowie School.”  John Roberts, Clerk, Muiravonside School Board.  Manuel Mills.”

(Falkirk Herald 17 February 1877, 1).
Illus 1: 1896/97 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The school was of brick with separate playgrounds for the boys and girls.  A headmaster’s house was built to its west and eventually more housing was built in the vicinity to such an extent that it became the dominant part of the village.

As the coal industry in the area thrived, the size of the population increased.  The number on the roll in Drumbowie School in 1892 had been 266, and just two years later it was 431.  In August 1890 the Muiravonside School Board passed plans for a sizeable extension on the north side of the existing school and then advertised for tenders:

To Contractors.  Estimates wanted for the Bricklayer, Joiner, Slater, Plumber, and Plaster Works of additions to DRUMBOWIE PUBLIC SCHOOL.  Plans to be seen with, and Schedules of Quantities obtained from, the Subscribers, Sealed offers marked “Tender for Drumbowie School,” to be lodged with Thomas Wilson Esq, Clerk, Muiravonside School Board, Maddiston, by Saturday 6th September.  A & W Black, Architects.

(Falkirk Herald 23 August 1890, 1).

Work began later that year but was much delayed by adverse weather and it was April 1894 by the time that all of the alterations had been completed.  The sum of £2,300 was borrowed for this work.  In 1900 the School Board became concerned by the operations of James Nimmo & Co Ltd in the vicinity of the school building but despite repeated approaches to that firm the coal workings ended up creating subsidence which badly damaged the school.  Large sums, in the region of £260, were spent rectifying the damage and the coal company was threatened with legal action.  It refuted the claims but an examination of the feu charter obtained by the School Board back in 1876 showed that it actually owned the mineral rights and that Nimmo & Co had essentially committed theft.  The company paid the bill for the repairs already carried out, as well as those that arose later.

Technical instruction had been appearing in schools at the beginning of the twentieth century and in November 1910 an additional classroom for cookery and woodwork was completed at Drumbowie.  It stood separate from the main buildings, running parallel with the main road.

Illus 2: Drumbowie School looking south-west from the Football Pitch, c1911. The building on the left was the technical instruction classroom.

An incident happened in the technical instruction room on the first day back after the Christmas holidays in 1918.  On 8 January a medical inspection was due and normally this was held in that room.  The kitchen fire had been lit but the room was still chilly and so the headmaster decided that the inspection would take place in the main building.  He left with the children but four boys lingered behind.  It was at that moment that the boiler of the fire exploded and the four were badly burnt.  Little damage was done to the building which was covered by insurance.  It was believed that the water in the boiler must have frozen over the Christmas period.

In 1926 a public library was opened at Drumbowie which was one of the five schools then operated by the Slamannan, Drumbowie and Muiravonside Managements School Committee.  Electric lighting was installed in 1933.

Illus 3: Drumbowie School looking north-west, c1950.

The construction of the model village at Westquarter in the late 1930s saw many Standburn families move there.  In line with practice elsewhere, the secondary department of Drumbowie School was closed in 1947 and the pupils were moved to Slamannan.   By then the school roll had dwindled to just 35 and the future of the remaining infant department was in doubt.  It came as no surprise when the County Education Committee announced its closure in 1955.  The children were to be transferred to either Maddiston or Avonbridge Schools.  There was an instant outcry from the parents.  Given that the school formed the heart of the remaining community it was decided to retain it and in the 1960s the old buildings were demolished and replaced with a modular school.  This was extended in 1982/83.

1878William Weir1887
1888George McKay1914250, 400
1914James Reside1924
1916Mr Samuel M Murray (acting)1919
1924James Walker1929
1929John Fraser1936
1936Harold Miskimmin194590
1946John Marshall194865
1948Margaret S Hutchison (Menhard)195135
1951Mrs Menhard
1980sMargaret Campbell
Matthew CoulterPresent

Sites and Monuments Record

Main Street, StandburnSMR 2271NS 9285 7487

G.B. Bailey, 2023