Muiravonside Public School

Muiravonside Parochial School was handed over to the Muiravonside School Board in 1872/73.  In 1875 the staff consisted of the head teacher (David Watt), a certified teacher, a sewing mistress and a monitor.  The following year it was decided to build a new school on the opposite side of the road on the Board’s land to designs by A & W Black, architects, and estimates were sought:

“To Contractors.  Estimates wanted for the mason, Joiner, Slater, Plumber, and Plaster Work of SCHOOL-HOUSE to be erected in the immediate vicinity of the late parish School, Muiravonside.  Schedules of Quantities to be had from, and Plans to be seen with the Architects, Messrs A. & W. Black, Falkirk.  Offers to be lodged with Colonel Stirling, Tarduff, Chairman of the School Board, on or before Saturday the 2d September next.  The Board do not bind themselves to accept the lowest of any offer.  J Roberts, Clerk, Muiravonside School Board.  Manuel Mills, August 23d, 1876.”

(Falkirk Herald 24 August 1876, 1).

The new school was ready for use at the end of the summer holiday in 1877.  The School Board took out a loan of £3,400 from the Public Works Loan Commissioners to be paid back over 40 years.  It then sought and received permission from the Board of Education to sell the Glebe lands associated with the school.  Mr Black proposed that

the present school be converted into rooms which may either be used for a female teacher or be used by the master, a new front door is to be opened.  The present byre is to be converted into a scullery with a back door…

Illus 1 (a): 1896/97 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland)
Illus 1(b) : 1913/17 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

No buyer was found for the Glebe and so it continued to be ploughed by the headmaster and it is reported that Mr Watt found some Roman coins whilst doing so (Leask 2017).

Despite the relative isolation of the school the numbers attending it remained relatively stable – 166 in 1894 and 165 in 1897.  The opening of a new infant school at Maddiston in 1897 did not immediately take pupils away from Muiravonside and in 1898 it underwent “considerable improvement.”  It was said to be overcrowded in 1901, whilst Maddiston was half empty.  One way to fix this was to add older pupils to the Maddiston roll at the expense of Muiravonside, but this was rejected.  Investigation found that there were no infants from Maddiston at the Muiravonside School and that the overcrowding there was in that age group.  30 children had enrolled in the previous years – all from the east of the parish.  Muiravonside School had to be extended.  The successful contractors for the work were: mason work – Alexander Marshall; joiner work – Robert Thomson; plumber work – A & G Robertson; slater work – J D Maxwell; plasterer work – William Davie.  The estimated cost was £536 17s and so the Board applied to the Public Works Loan Board for a loan of £700, at 3.25%, repayable in 30 years.  The extension should have been ready in September 1903, but was delayed by several weeks.

New housing shifted the centre of the population to the north and in 1918 the average attendance at Muiravonside School was down to 124.

Illus 2: Muiravonside School looking south-west (Maddiston & Rumford Local History Group).

The problem that had arisen over the provision of schools near parish boundaries was overcome by redefining the areas controlled by each school authority and by 1924 the Slamannan, Drumbowie and Muiravonside Management School Committee had been formed.  In 1926 public libraries were placed in each of the five schools under that Committee’s control – Slamannan, Avonbridge, Drumbowie, Muiravonside and Maddiston.  In 1931 it became the Eastern No. 3 School Management Committee Muiravonside and Slamannan.  Muiravonside School continued to be managed and maintained.  Dry-rot was discovered in the ceiling of the porch in 1933 and was treated that summer.

Changing educational methods led to internal alterations in 1935.  The partition which divided the infant room from a lumber room was moved so as to enlarge the infant room.  The lumber room was then utilised as a medical inspection room.  At the same time a gallery was removed, new furnishings supplied, and modern wash-hand basins installed.

Complaints about children having to travel to Muiravonside School from the east increased.  In 1937 the parents at Linlithgow Bridge sent in a letter, and this was reinforced by the growth of Whitecross.  Before anything could be done to redress these concerns the Second World War intervened.  In September 1939 Muiravonside School was used as a reception centre for evacuees from the big cities who were then billeted in the area.  Military personnel were stationed in the district and were soon involved in entertainments at the school.  Like many schools, Muiravonside became the centre of wartime fundraising and social events. It was only after the war, in 1946, that Calor gas lighting was installed –– only to be replaced by electric lighting in 1951.  Estimates suggested to the Education Committee that the population of the parish would grow and the future of the school looked secure.  However, in 1951 the Education Committee of Stirling County Council considered providing a new school at Whitecross to take the place of what it described as an obsolete type of school at Muiravonside.   A memorandum on the subject noted the shift of population and proposed a school of five classrooms, with a sixth for general purposes such as sewing, films, music, meals, for the time-being.  Whitecross Primary School was supposed to be ready for the opening of the 1955/56 session but there were the usual delays.  That September Muiravonside School opened as usual but with two classes at the Miners’ Welfare Hall in Whitecross.  The final move was made in December and the following year the old school was put up for sale.  The school building has been demolished and is now occupied by a bungalow.

1875David B Watt1914170
1914James B Wilson1922124
1920Robert Fyfe1929
1929William P Troup1934
1934Archibald Wilson1938
1938Joseph G Lockhart1947
1947Arthur Doyle1950
1950George Wilson120

Sites and Monuments Record

Muiravonside Public SchoolSMR 2156NS 9575 7639

G.B. Bailey, 2023