Maddiston Public School

When the Muiravonside School Board was established in 1873 the settlement pattern in the parish was very fluid with new hamlets or colliers’ villages being set up according to demand.  The population was increasing at a rapid rate but attempting to keep up with this, far less to predict its spread, was next to impossible.  By 1894 it became obvious that a school was required in the Maddiston area and the following year the Muiravonside School Board agreed to build one to accommodate 150 scholars, to be made capable of increasing to 250.  It was to be purely for infants, the older pupils were to continue to make the journey to Muiravonside School.  A feu was obtained from Mr Livingston-Learmonth of Parkhall on the east side of the Main Street and James Strang was appointed as the architect.  As well as providing alternative plans for a 150 or a 250 capacity building, he also had to indicate the cost difference between dressed rubble and plain rubble for the front façade – as usual the Board was watching every penny.

In February 1896 his plans were forwarded to the Education Department for approval and subsequently the following advert appeared in the newspaper:

To Contractors.  Offers are Wanted for the Mason and brickwork, Joiner, Plumber, Slater, Plaster, and Smith Works of NEW PUBLIC SCHOOL to be erected at Maddiston for the Muiravonside  School Board.  Plans to be seen with, and Schedules of Quantities of the different Departments of the Work received from the Subscriber, with whom Offers are to be lodged by Friday, the 20th March.  The Board do not bind themselves to accept the lowest or any offer.  James Strang, Architect, 102 High Street, Falkirk.

(Falkirk Herald 14 March 1896, 1).

The feu was for ¾ acre at £8 an acre with a frontage onto the road of about two chains.  One of the conditions was that

the children be kept from trespassing on any adjacent land at all times and to be assisted in doing thus a wall not less than 6’ tall to be built on all sides”.

Despite the apparent progress, the Board was still split on the need for the school and suggested a plebiscite of the public to settle the matter.  This was ruled out of order and eventually the project went ahead.  Offers of loans were sought and that of Macara Brothers, 62 Buchanan Street, Glasgow, was accepted.  This was for £1,171 at £3 2s 6d per cent over 30 years.  The contractors for the school were: builders – McLachlan; joiner – William Thomas; painter – Walter Doig.  The new infant school opened on 6 September 1897.  It was relatively small, consisting of two classrooms and a head teacher’s room.

Illus 1: Maddiston School, c1912, with the old section of the school in the foreground

Despite its diminutive size, it took some time for Maddiston School to fill up.  In 1901 it was agreed to add a Standard II class to the Standard I class already there – thereby increasing the ages and numbers of children attending.  This was termed a “mixed school” – infant and junior.  The natural extension of that was to increase the age limit even further so that the children did not need to make the trip to Muiravonside and in 1902 the Muiravonside School Board agreed to that proposal and to extend Maddiston School accordingly.  Within weeks that decision was reversed and instead the school at Muiravonside was extended.  Such dithering was a hallmark of all school boards.

Inevitably, Maddiston School soon became overcrowded.  The School Board asked for competitive plans by four different architects for an extension to accommodate an additional 230 children.  Malcolm and Robertson, architects, Charing Cross, Grangemouth, were chosen, and their plans were approved in November 1910.  Contractors were invited to tender for the work:

“Maddiston School Extension.  Contractors for Mason, Joiner, Plumber, Slater, Plaster, and Painter Works, desiring to tender for same, are invited to send in their names and addresses to the Subscribers on or before Saturday the 7th January 1911 at 10.30am,together with a Deposit of 10s 6d, which will be returned on receipt of a Bona-Fide Tender.  Malcolm and Robertson, Architects, Charing Cross, Grangemouth.”

(Falkirk Herald 31 December 1910, 1).

Work began on site in March 1911 and a loan of £2,800 was obtained from the Public Works Loan Committee at 3.5% repayable over 30 years.  The extension was ready for the re-opening of the school after the summer break, although the official opening was on 1 October.  The valuation of the school rose from £15 to £50 as the accommodation had been a little more than doubled.  It now consisted of five classrooms, a hall, staff and head teacher’s rooms, and separate porches for the boys’ and girls’ entrances with the dates of the extension on them.  A block at the back of the school was used for cookery and woodwork.  Children up to Standard V now attended and consequently a headmaster was appointed.

A public library was added in 1926.  By that time increases in the school roll had necessitated the conversion of the school hall into three classrooms, but more accommodation was needed.  In 1927 the Education Committee’s architect drew up plans for the restoration of the hall and the provision of a further five classrooms, cloakrooms, staff rooms, and central heating, at an estimated cost of £3,760.  The committee decided that this was too expensive and that it would be cheaper to retain the use of the hall as classrooms and merely add an extra two.  A month later this decision was reversed, only to be overturned a second time.  The reduced scheme was submitted to the Education Department, which in May 1928 rejected it saying that a hall was essential.  Eventually, in early 1929, work began.  The old cookery/woodwork room was demolished and five classrooms were built on the back with the boiler room and a new cookery room in the basement.  During this period the Welfare Hall opposite the school was used for some classes.

There was further reorganisation in the 1930s under the Stirling County Education Committee.  Older children were sent to Redding School for the trades, to Falkirk Technical School for middle management and to Falkirk High School for professions.  The playground was extended in 1933 to make up for that taken for the 1929 buildings.

When war was declared on 3 September 1939 Maddiston School was not fully prepared and only had shelter accommodation for a small portion of the pupils.  Consequently, it was arranged to have half of each class attending in the mornings and the other half in the afternoons.  Within days the school was used as a reception centre for evacuees.  Here they were processed and sent on to their billets.  Some of the evacuees subsequently attended the school and an evacuated teacher from Glasgow temporarily joined the staff.

A few years on and overcrowding was back!  In 1951 Primary VII moved over to the Miners’ Welfare Hall and in 1952 the dining room was utilised as a classroom.  It was decided to build a new infant department to the rear of the school and building of the “Wee School” began in April 1956.  It was formally opened that December.  It was a typical building of the period with timbered exterior and the upper walls filled with large glass windows.  Smaller class sizes meant that in 1978 temporary classrooms were built at the back of the infant school for the use of P5 and P5/6.  They were still in use in 1985.  The playground was further reduced in size in 1983 by the construction of a community centre.

Many of the minor changes to the school which occurred over the following years are narrated by David Leask in his book on the parish.  Amongst these many alterations were the following: In 1989 the school hall and corridors in the main building were lined with wood panelling to provide a better look.  The porches were rebuilt in 1991and a new office built for the secretary in a former cloakroom.  The nursery from Woodburn was moved into the infant department at Maddiston, meaning that P2 had to move into the main building.  This was reversed when it merged with Maddiston’s own nursery.  Two additional mobile classrooms were erected in the field adjacent to the annex.

All of this was like adding sticking plasters to a festering wound and in the autumn of 2006 construction work began on a new school on a greenfield site a little to the north.  It was completed in August 2007.  The old Maddiston School was closed in 2008.

Illus 2: Maddiston Primary School in 2023 looking south-east.
Illus: Maddiston Primary School in 2023 looking north.
1897Miss Beattie189980
1899Miss J D Baxter190091
1900Miss MacKay102
Miss Walker
1905Miss Annie Aldiss191187
1911James S Wilson1926280
1926William Bowden1933300
1933Robert Fyffe1942
1942John White1952415
1952John Marshall1961350
1961Daniel Black1971280
1971James Wilson1984315
1984Agnes J Hotchkiss1987
1987Inez Torrance1997
1998Edward McLennan2006
2006Mrs Granville2007
Claire McGlynnPresent

Sites and Monuments Record

Main StreetNS 9393 7685
Glendevon DriveSMR 1700NS 9392 7703

G.B. Bailey, 2023