Auchinraith Special School , Part 2 of 2

Continued from Part 1

Situated on Whistleberry Road, on the boundary of Hamilton, the school for disabled children 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. In 1950, the Executive School Medical Officer was Dr D MacLeod. Cathleen Lenagh was a nurse on salary of £300 that year. Miss Catherine Dick was appointed as a nurse attendant on £173 per annum around that time. In 1950, the Director reported to the education committee that 36 children could not be ‘educated’ due to their disabilities. In October 1951 Miss Janet Stark was appointed head teacher having come from Drumpark Special Group.

In June 1952, three hundred children were evacuated when fire broke out at the school. As children were wheeled out, away from the direction of the fire, some were puzzled asking teachers, where are we going? Teachers replied that a special picnic had been arranged outside and they must leave at once. One class of 12 pupils, nearly all blind, were marched to safety along a corridor. As firemen put out the flames, a storeroom and 2 classrooms were damaged by the fire. As they conducted their investigation, an impromptu picnic was dutifully held on the grass outside. Some of the alarmed children, some in wheelchairs, were taken to a nearby restaurant where teachers tried to calm and reassure them. They were then sent home for a half day. The headmistress said the fire broke out in an empty classroom and the janitor had promptly rung the bell to evacuate the school. Reporters at this time stated the school as being state of the art.

In March 1955, Miss Hilda Sharp of Wishaw, a teacher at the school was attacked by a man as she walked along Whistleberry Road. She was stabbed in the back and let out a scream causing the man to run off into the woods.  

In 1959, Miss Mabel Smith M.A was headmistress having been there since at least 1957. Miss Smith gave many local talks to organisations like women’s guild with stories of the care given to the children, telling some stories, some amusing, some sad but always promoting the good work of the school. Mr James C Cullen was janitor of the school from October 1966. Miss Gunn was a teacher in 1969. One of the teachers in later times was Ann McPherson.

In August 1974, a group of pupils at the school were the first in Lanarkshire to attend a special cycling course conducted by Mr. W Johnston, County road safety organiser. One of the pupils was Gerard Kelly, then 11 years old. That year, there were 95 pupils over the age of 12.

In August 1974, there was a roll of 274 pupils., up by 1 pupil on the previous year. That same month an advert went out for the position of head teacher.

The school provided for the education of both mentally and physically handicapped children between the ages of 5 and 16 and by 1974 had a deaf department of 9 classes and a cerebral palsy unit with 20 children. It is currently unknown by the writer when the school was demolished but thought to have been in the late 1970’s or early 80’s. Today in 2023, the site is vacant, cleared with no buildings and narrowly missed being the site of a huge incinerator in recent years following successful protests.

The school, which was a fair size is shown on the 1962 map of Blantyre.


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  1. Mr David Murray I am 60 now

    can U email me to tell me what is going to happen to the school, that I went too

  2. I went to that school from 1967-1978

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