Brightons Free Church School

The Free Church congregation in Brightons first assembled at Blairlodge School in 1843 and held its first service in a newly erected church building on 21 July first 1847.  It then started to think about erecting a school on its land to the south of the church.  Fund-raising began and three main sources were utilised – a £225 government grant, a grant from the Free Church, and local subscriptions (almost exclusively from members of the congregation).  The staff at Blairlodge School, and in particular Mr Hislop, continued to exert an influence on the church and school.

In 1856 Mr MacLeod was the teacher and his wife conducted the industrial department.  However, there seems to have been a falling out for in 1864 the Scottish Central Association of Schoolmasters agreed to pay the legal expenses incurred by Mr MacLeod

in procuring the very small measure of justice extended to him, as an expression of the sympathy of the meeting for him in his harsh and unmerited dismissal from his situation.”

Illus 1: 1860/62 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The Ordnance Surveyors of 1860 provide us with useful information:

A neat building in the hamlet of Brightons erected in 1849 at a cost of £430 and capable of accommodating 200 scholars.   The number at present on the roll being 130.   The master’s salary is made up from the school fees, which amount to £36 a year, £18 by subscription and £18 from government, in all £72 a year.  He has also the legal accommodation.  Property of the Free Church congregation.”

Illus 2: Polmont Free Church looking north in the 1950s (courtesy of Andrew Bain).

The Polmont School Board was offered the Free Church School by the Deacon’s Court in June 1873 and turned it down.  Details of this are given in the introduction to education in the parish.  It came as a surprise to the Board that August when the school was to be closed and it was suddenly responsible for its pupils.  Negotiations were sought but then the Board discovered that the teacher’s house and classrooms were occupied as dwellings, and the schoolroom was being used for religious instruction.  The school never re-opened.

Illus 3: 1896/97 Ordnance Survey Map showing the western end of the old school (the former teacher’s house) and the adjacent part of the classrooms occupied as dwellings whilst the schoolroom was now used as a Sunday School (National Library of Scotland).
(1856)Mr MacLeod1864120
1866Alexander Stark1873155

Sites and Monuments Record

Maddiston RdSMRNS 9296 7777
G.B. Bailey, 2023