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Strathaven's Russian Princess


 The School Board System was introdused by the Scottish Education Act of 1872.

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Ballgreen School and Pupils: circa 1900.
Teacher: Miss Jennie Brownlie

       Crosshill School and pupils: 1882
       Headmaster: Mr. R.C. Lindsay, B.Sc.,



The Parish Schoolmaster

"The parish schoolmaster has the maximum salary, and a good house and garden. His fees may amount to 25 pounds per annum. Many good scholars have been taught here. Altogether there are 13 schools in the parish, and the number attending them last annual examination was somewhat under 600. There are also several evening schools and Sabbath schools well attended. There is scarcely any child above six years of age unable to read. If any, the fault must lie with the parents as the schoolmaster, most generously, is willing to teach them gratis, where the parents are poor, and the parish supplies the ordinary school books. The master keeps borders. The branches taught in the school are, Latin, Greek, English, English grammar, and writing, arithmetic, geography, mensuration, and mathematics. There is a small portion of land attached to the school at Gilmourton, with a schoolmaster's house and school-room; and a legacy of fifteen shilling a-year was lately left to the small school at Barnock, near Peelhill. These are the only schools that have anything like an endowment. The others are kept by persons at their own risk."  
The Third Statistical Account for Scotland, 1835. Rev. William Proudfoot, Minister,


Strathaven Academy Infant Class - 1914

"I can recall school when we had to 'sit up straight!' fold arms, and 'speak when spoken to!"

Strathaven Academy: School Dinner Ladies

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Minnie Lang: nee Anderson appears as an infant front row above in the
Strathaven Academy infant class group of  1914. Here, she appears fourth left, back row among the Dining Staff that served a generation of Strathaven Academy pupils some sixty or so years later .             

St. Patrick's Primary - circa 1910

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left to right - back row:
Mick Rooney, Austin Redfearn, Robert Muldoon, Henry Carty, Matt Mulligan
left to right - front row:
Mary Gavin, Katie Gallagher, Betty Garvie, Elvira Dragonetti, Nessie Carty, Mary McLeavy, 
Sarah Welsh.

Matt Mulligan subsequently became Head Teacher of St. Patrick's Primary School 1935 - 1947

"In the First World War 650 men of Strathaven in the Parish of Avondale saw active service. Of these 100 were killed. Some of the latter were certainly members of St. Patrick’s Church. In 1918 when the war ended the British government passed the 1918 Education Act which greatly benefited the Catholic community in Scotland. Roman Catholic Schools before that date had been supported by the Roman Catholic community itself with the help of small government grants. These schools were now absorbed into the state system of education, under certain guarantees and were funded from local authority rates. The 1918 Act was probably in some small measure introduced in recognition of the sacrifices and contribution of the Catholic community to the war effort. St. Patrick’s school, though owned by the Church was leased to the local authority and absorbed into the state system of education. The Local Authority ran the school, met the running costs and paid teachers’ salaries. Religious Inspections were still carried on by the Church. The parish priest was no longer manager of the school."

"As for the school (St. Patrick's RC Primary) although a happy place of learning it was hardly a place of luxury. Memoirs of parishioners paint a rather bleak picture of the building. Even as late as 1943/1949 Primaries 1, 2, 3 and 4 were housed in the hut with one teacher who had Primaries 1 and 2 on one side of the room and Primaries 3 and 4 on the other, each with a blackboard on either side of the room at the front on which the teacher worked alternately. Children worked on small blackboards cleaning these with bits of rag dampened with bottles of water carried in by pupils for that purpose. In the hut the teacher filled the stove with coal sometimes using milk to clean her hands afterwards, there being no running water. In the hall building itself the head teacher worked with Primaries 5, 6 and 7; the primary 7 boys in the room being allowed to stoke the fire. In the kitchen area of the hall there was one small sink and a single tap but the kitchen itself was out of bounds to pupils. Lunches were brought in metal boxes and desks covered with oilcloths when food was being served. Attempts were made to improve the building. For example, in 1924 the secretary of the Archdiocesan Board of Education asked that “steps be taken for the provision of a porch and cloakroom for Strathaven School.” By this time, of course, plans had to be drawn up by the Local Authority’s Master of Works for approval. It was probably at this point in time that a tiny drinking fountain was installed in the cloakroom for the benefit of pupils; otherwise they had no access to running water! As for sanitary arrangements, throughout the existence of the school only dry toilets were provided in a corrugated-iron roofed shed at the back and to the right of the main building. In inclement weather this shed also gave some protection from the elements at break times!"

"Despite these primitive conditions the school seems to have been reasonably successful to judge by Inspectors’ Reports although, from the same reports, it is obvious that the buildings were in a dreadful state of repair. The parents of the day put up with these conditions presumably because they saw it as important to have the children educated in a Catholic School. The transition to the new school off Commercial Road was a boon welcomed by all. The transfer took place in August 1951. The old school hall which had housed Primaries 1,2,3 and 4 and had been erected in John Hickson’s time (1898 - 1901) was demolished at this point. The men of the parish re-roofed the old school and transformed the building into the Parish Hall we have today; only the original walls, the Short History records, were retained of the original building."

"Of great significance in its impact on the whole community was the introduction of comprehensive education in the late 1960s. Prior to that period entry to Catholic Senior Secondaries and therefore to Further Education was restricted to small numbers from each school. In any year 2 or 3 pupils from St. Patrick’s were presented for entry exams for these secondary schools the others going on to St. Mary’s, Larkhall, a Junior Secondary. Clearly this system was of great benefit to those who attended Higher Grade Schools, but many others were denied the opportunity so to progress. Comprehensive education provided increased learning opportunities for the whole community. The present generation clearly benefit from these arrangements in ways denied to their grandparents. Bishop Devine became chaplain to the Catholic community of Glasgow University in 1974 and noted the immediate impact of the advent of comprehensive education. His predecessor who had been in post since 1967 looked after approximately 700 students; by 1974 the number had risen to 2,000 and of these 90% were the first members of their families ever to enter tertiary education. The trend towards a more highly educated population has continued ever since and the Catholic community has shared in this development. Catholic schools have played a significant role in this process.” St. Patrick’s Strathaven - A History and Insight - October 2001, pp.37 and 38, Edited by Edmund J. Geraghty. Printed in Great Britain by Cavalry Creative Services, 11 Bury Road, Hatfield, Herts. AL10 8BJ.

In the latter half of the 20th century two other Primary Schools were established in Strathaven at Wester Overton and Kirkland Park. 


"There is a good library, instituted in 1809, and containing from 1100 to 1200 volumes. There are also some smaller libraries, intended chiefly for the young persons attending the Sabbath schools." The Third Statistical Account for Scotland, 1835. Rev. William Proudfoot, Minister 

The existing District Library at Ballgreen (Glasgow Road) was erected on the site in the second half of the 20th century following the demolition of the old Ballgreen School.


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