I recently posted this photo taken in 1905 by David Ritchie of High Blantyre Primary School. This prompted some online debate. In particular, Blantyre man Alan Baird queried the picture as being High Blantyre Primary School, quoting that it was not the school he remembers going to. Looking at the picture closely, I have to admit the school looks very different to how I remember it in the 1970s. The front of the school looked very different. The question was being asked of me, “is this actually High Blantyre Primary School?”
Well, i can absolutely confirm it is. Whilst the school Alan and I remember did not have a front entrance as shown in the middle of this photo, nor a bell tower, everything else is identical. Now, we know that this school and Ness’s were built from the same plans, but this photo is absolutely Hunthill Road, the wall in the foreground being identifiable as Orchardhead.
However, it took Blantyre historian Gordon Cook to confirm some details for me. Gordon explained, “The school did go through a facelift at some point. If you look at my first photograph you see clearly the trefoil design that runs through the frontage of the newly built school. On Mr Ritchie’s photograph it can be seen on the railings, the apex window surrounds, and the gateposts.
The next photo photograph shows that the railings were straight, this was the first change, and may have occurred before or during the Great War.
Next, a photograph of Low Blantyre school taken almost at the same time as Mr Ritchie’s, shows that their railings were straight already (photo from book published 1907, I can give you a bigger file version if required).
Now take a look at the next two photographs and you will notice that by comparing the last with the previous photographs, that the front of the school has been dramatically changed. We can see where the front door has
been replaced by four long windows, and the arch with the inscription has gone also, replaced by four fan light windows, and the bell tower has gone too. This was all done pre-WWII, and this front middle section was the deputy head’s classroom, he was Mr
Thomas Ferrier. He lost an arm in the Great War, he hit me on the head with his wooden arm one day for talking in the lines, he was a brilliant story teller too. The boys went in at a door on the south gable, and the girls entered on the north gable. The bell was then hand rung by the janitor as he walked round the playground, I visited Mr Crawford in the schoolhouse in the 1970’s and asked if I might take possession of the bell, but it was out on loan to a school in Airdrie, and when it returned it was to be kept for a possible fire emergency.”