Auchinraith Special School, Part 1 of 2

I recently asked readers about Auchinraith Special School but having only got limited response, I have decided to do my own more detailed research. The first of 2 parts here….

First discussed in 1927, at that time Auchinraith House was a derelict mansion house, surrounded by open sewage. The Education Committee intended to buy the grounds and house and construct a special school on the site next to the house but were initially worried about the impact of subsidence. The Committee however pressed on knowing fine well it was the most beautiful site they could get for their £1,700 budget.

Mr Charles Donnelly presided on Thursday 24th September 1948 at the opening ceremony of Auchinraith Special School near Hamilton. Provost Wilson, Motherwell chairman of the Medical Services Sub-Committee of the Education Committee of the County of Lanark, stated that this brought to completion the programme planned by the authority 26 years ago when it was decided that four schools should be built specially sited, specially planned, specially equipped, and specially staffed for invalid children. Mr Tom Fraser, Joint Under Secretary of State for Scotland, in formally opening the school stated that there was a 90,000-school population in Lanarkshire, and of that about 2 per cent, were ‘mentally defective’ children. He was pleased to see that provision was being made for these handicapped children.

Shortages in the building trade made it difficult to provide the schools needed for this special work all over Scotland. He congratulated Lanarkshire on the completion of their programme of special schools in the county. It was proposed to have 330 physically handicapped (including partially sighted) 120 mentally handicapped, and 40 deaf children in attendance at Auchinraith.  

In 1938, just before WW2, the old Auchinraith House was demolished and by the outbreak of war, the shell of the Special School building had been completed on the same site. It was then taken over by the Armed Forces who built, in addition, a number of huts. The restarting of work on the school building was authorised in July 1947. The cost of work done before the war was almost £39,000; the estimated cost of the remaining completion was £28,000. The school comprised of 21 classrooms designed for special work, four practical rooms, including a cookery room and a housewifery block and a large and attractive sunroom in the centre of the front of the building facing south. There were also two dining rooms with kitchen and servery, a clinical suite with rooms for orthopaedic, ophthalmic, and dental treatment, and spray baths. At the time it was estimated there were around 6,000 pupils in special schools all over Scotland, so the Auchinraith Special School represented quite a proportion. 

Situated on Whistleberry Road, on the boundary of Hamilton, the school was officially noted at the time of being in Bothwell. On 15th September 1949, Miss Elizabeth McDade, 12 Bellsfield Drive resigned from her position as a dental attendant. 

Auchinraith House is pictured in its final days on the 1938 map.

Leave a Reply