Blantyre School Board

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Extract from the book, “Blantyre Explained” by Paul Veverka (c) 2018

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The School Board meets

Blantyre School Board – Formed in 1873, with Mr. Chalres Thomson, manager of Dixons Collieries elected the first Chairman. Mr. William Jackson was elected on to the board in 1875.

The board had an elected Committee, renewed every 3 years by public election. The purpose was to govern Blantyre’s Schools both at High Blantyre and at Low Blantyre. 1900 was an important year and saw many changes to the Education Act, especially around improvements to the welfare of children. An election of Blantyre Candidates on to the School Board took place on 10th March 1900, just as it had done in 1897. By late February 1900, the nominations had all came in, submitted in advance.

There was a good variety of professions wishing to be involved in school matters and the nominations included old members and people wishing a new place on the Board. They were: *1. Rev, James Campbell; 2. Angus McQuarrie of Ulva House; *3. William Grant MD; *4. Neil Douglas, a cashier, 5. William Tait, a draper; *6. Alex Davidson, a miner ; *7. James Kelly, spirit merchant, 8. Thomas Devannay, a spirit merchant, 9. Rev Charles Scrimgeour Turnbull; *10. John Menzies, colliery manager; *11. William Small, secretary; 12. John Gray, a miner; 13. Alexander Louden, flesher; 14. John Sneddon, factor of houses; 15. Hugh Lapraik, colliery Surface Superintendent; and 16. John C Wilson, MD. Those marked with (*) were present members who were seeking re-election. Of those existing members at the time however Rev Dr Hackett and Mr William Walker were not nominated. Therefore there were 16 nominations for only 9 seats. These people faced a public vote and set out to campaign all over Blantyre with their committee men, friends and family.

We take sports as an important and vital part of school activities these days. One of the most popular sports was football. It’s fun, exciting, very social and with health benefits. Rightly so.

However, things were very different 100 years ago. Westminster Gazette and also Aberdeen Journal Saturday 18th November 1905 reported during November 1905 the Blantyre School Board Chairman reported his concern that there was appearing to be a swing towards “athletes” at school, rather than “academics”. His words were minuted that the bad influence of sport infiltrating into the curriculum was down “entirely to the game of football”. He motioned that “the Board had agreed to discourage the game of football as it was indulged too much by the boys at the present time. Furthermore, it was the agreed opinion of the Board that the sustained effort in the game of football as played in open field or ground, was injurious and damaging to the overall health of the boys. This is what a good many local school authorities think, even if they are fearful to say it. Blantyre School Board will take action at the forefront and in the interests of children”.

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