The Barnhill School Room

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1890 Barnhill Schoolhouse ruins highlighted in green

1890 Barnhill Schoolhouse ruins highlighted in green

Very recently I found out that Barnhill had a little school. Well, to be more precise, it had a little building with one room used as a classroom.

The little property was fully detached, made of stone with a thatched roof, opening out on to Bardykes Road, Barnhill. It was located directly opposite the Hoolets Nest / Barnhill Tavern pub. Likely built in the early 1800’s, it was the property of the Milheugh Estate, but had a tenant, an aged spinster by the name of Miss Elizabeth Lyon, who was also the sole schoolmistress. The 1851 census confirms that Elizabeth Lyon was a headmistress in 1851.  She was born 26th December 1785. She was living with her nephew James Lyon aged 6 during 1851. Her Mother was Margaret Coats and Elizabeth was part of a large family. During her adult life, the other entries for her siblings all are located nearby at Hunthill.

When she died on 14th August 1855, the twenty or so children who attended the little school, were relocated to the Kirkton Hall School, which was located in School Lane.  This is all at a time before Auchinraith , Calder

1916 Barnhill. Site of the little schoolroom

1916 Barnhill. Site of the little schoolroom

Street, Stonefield or High Blantyre Primary Schools were built. It is safe to say the little Barnhill school then fell into ruin. By the time of the 1890 photo above, trees were growing out the ruin. By 1916 in this later photo, the ruin had been demolished and cleared, most probably as it seriously encroached into Bardykes Road. The wall in that location may have been built from its demolition rubble. Today though, it is a little carpark across the road from the Hoolets Pub.

Fellow history enthusiast, Gordon Cook was able to provide me with some more details, adding “Mr James Brownlie was born on Sunday, 22nd of June 1845, in the old Hoolit’s Nest Inn which was then owned by his father, Mr William Brownlie. Indeed the Brownlie family had already been resident in Blantyre above 300 years.

His first school was in a “but and ben” thatched one storey house directly across the road from where he was born. When Miss Lyon died the school was closed down. The twenty odd scholars were transferred to the Kirkton Hall School, at School Lane, High Blantyre. The Headmaster of this school was Mr Hunter. Old James recalled at that time, there were many ‘fine schools’ in Blantyre, and all of them consisted of one classroom only. In fact, there was another school just fifty yards along School Lane with a Mr Money (pronounced Moonie) as Headmaster.

As would be expected, a friendly rivalry existed between the two School Lane schools, and Mr Brownlie tells us of a battle cry employed by the children of the Hall class as they barged passed the other scholars, “Moonie’s dugs keep up yer lugs, and let the Hall yins by ye.” His formal education ended in 1856, when, at just eleven years of age, he was sent to work for Henry Monteith & Co. in the village dye works. Although Mr Brownlie could remember seeing David Livingstone on his last visit to Blantyre on Wednesday, December 31st 1856, he was still able at 92 years of age, to enjoy a “daunner” round the old Barnhill area where he grew up and played as a lad in the 1850s.”

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