Wallacestone Public School

Due to the difficulties that the Polmont School Board had in acquiring Reddingmuirhead School in 1894 it decided to seek a more central location for a school to serve Brightons, Wallacestone and Reddingmuirhead.  It opened negotiations with Mr Cameron of Crossgatehead with regard to a site on the old wagon road which ran from Brightons to Wallacestone.  Cameron was prepared to compensate against any damage due to underground workings and agreed to a price of £7 per acre.  He was also willing to provide a free strip of land for a pavement to the east.  The Board ensured that it would have free issue and entry from the property onto the Waggon Road which was to be upgraded into a standard roadway by Cameron with only a minor contribution from the Board.  The condition of the road remained a sore point for many years.  In April 1896 the Education Board approved of the site of the new school and James Strange prepared plans.

In June 1897 the new school was named as Wallacestone School and was officially opened on 1 November 1898.  The staff of the new school was fixed as follows: Mr Biggar, headmaster, Miss Learmonth, and Misses Williamson, Gardner, and Edwards, and Mr John Russell, from the Redding Village School; Miss Hay from the Polmont Female School; and Miss Liddle and Mr G B Brown, from Reddingmuirhead School.  At the time Wallacestone School was the largest under the Board with accommodation for 380 pupils.  It cost around £2,800, to pay for which a loan to that amount was taken out repayable in equal instalments within forty years.

Illus 1: 1914/16 Ordnance Survey Map (National Library of Scotland).

The building consisted of a main block of seven rooms for the higher department, and a wing of two rooms to the east, for the infant department.  As usual, several of the rooms were provided with sliding partitions, so that they could be thrown into one with little inconvenience.  The main block was fitted with dual desks, the infants being provided with desks of the kindergarten type.  There was also lavatory, cloakroom, and other accommodation.  The architect was James Strang, Falkirk, and the contractors were: mason work – John Gardner, Falkirk; joiner work – James Johnston, Polmont; slater work – J D Maxwell, Laurieston; plaster work – David McNair, Falkirk; plumber work – Robert Brown, Falkirk; smith work, William Turner, Brightons; painter work, Finlay Mitchell, Grangemouth; glazier work – D O’May, Falkirk.

Illus 2: Wallacestone Primary 3 Class Photograph c1955. To the left is the west entrance, which led past the headteacher’s room to classrooms. Behind is the janitor’s store. Photo owner: Jessie Young.

The school soon filled up and in 1910 a south-west extension for a further 120 pupils was added, designed by Malcolm and Robertson, architects, Grangemouth.  The total cost, including furnishings, of the alterations was £1,131 13 7d, and the architect’s fees of £56.  The school had now reached its full extent, though minor works were required from time to time.  In 1926, for example, T Barker was paid £263 for levelling and tar macadamising both sides and the back of the playground, and for levelling and laying with whin chips the front part.  In 1930, in common with many of the other rural schools in this area, Stirling County Council opened a public library there which ran successfully until the outbreak of the Second World War.  At the same time several attempts to introduce electric lighting into the school failed due to the lack of a local supply.  Instead, continuation classes, which met in the evening, were cancelled.  In 1939 a large house at Brightons, Greenpark, was acquired for £900 as a residence for the headmaster and his family. 

The headmaster was one of the driving forces in local fundraising during the Second World War and Wallacestone School was used by the ARP for firefighting and first aid demonstrations.  It was also designated as a Rest Centre. The school had been built in the countryside and there were very few houses along the old track which pre-dated the waggon way.  Over the decades new houses were built along the road frontage from the Brightons direction, but by the late 1950s the school was considered to be inconveniently located, too old and too small.  In 1961 the architects of the Central Regional Council Educational Department drew up plans for a new primary school at Braemar Gardens in Brightons and in 1963 the school moved there.  The old building was closed in 1974.  The school buildings at Crossgatehead remained empty for a considerable number of years before being demolished and replaced by housing.

1889John W Biggar1914305, 366, 380, 420
1914William P Cooper1929410
1929Gilbert Gray1936
1936William P Troup1938
1938Aeneas E Henderson1952
1953Mr Paterson

Sites and Monuments Record

Waggon RoadSMR 1948NS 9222 7750
G.B. Bailey, 2023