Bathgate in old picture postcards

Bathgate in old picture postcards

:   William F. Hendrie
:   Bathgate
:   Lothian, West
:   United Kingdom
:   978-90-288-3167-4
:   160
:   EUR 16.95 Including VAT *

Delivery time: 2 - 3 working days ((subject too). The illustrated cover may differ.


Fragments from the book 'Bathgate in old picture postcards'

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34. Boys enjoy a game of marbles in the playground of Torphichen Public School, which much modernised and enlarged, still serves the village today.

The school began in early Victorian days as a one room school. This first c1assroom still survives and houses the infant boys and girls, starting their education for the first time at the age of four and a half or five. Carved on the outside wall of this original c1assroom are two stone faces, which rnay represent Wisdom and Learning, while above the window is a representation of the old testament 'Burning Bush', the symbol of the Church of Scotland, which serves as a reminder of the church's important role in education during the 19th century, until in 1874 the government passed an Act of Parliament which was to make education at the primary stage compulsory and free.

This Act increased the number of children attending school and so in 1895 the one roomed school was extended to that seen in the picture.

35. The raising of the schoolleaving age from 12 to 14 again necessitated another extension to Torphichen School as during the early years of this century itserved bath primary and secondary pupils.

Thanks to the large farming families living in the country area around Torphichen the school role at one time topped 200, until it was decided to transport the older boys and girls to schools in Bathgate.

For a time the primary role was kept high by the attendance of youngsters from Wallhouse Children's Home on the outskirts of the village and in 1958 West Lothian Education Authority modernised and extended the school, including the provision of a small assembly hall. During the 1960's a modern dining room complete with its own kitchen was also built in the school grounds. Since 1980, thanks to the closure of Wallhouse Children's Home and the smaller number of families with young children in the village, the number of children attending Torphichen School has fallen to 52, but such an important role does the school play in the life of the village that it is the fervent hope of all of the villagers that it will escape the education economy cuts, which have closed sa many other small schools.

36. The Old School House, Torphichen, which is now the author's home. I fust came to live in this large attractive old stone built school house in 1969, when I became headmaster of Torphiehen School. I purchased the house up on Scottish local government re-organisation in 1975 and apart from the addition of a garage to the right hand gable wall and the creation of a curving entrance drive to the front, the house remains much as it looks in this picture.

In the dining room of the house I have gathered a small collection of items connected with the history of the school, ranging from the teacher's high desk and chair to heavy wood en Indian clubs used during Victorian times by the girls for gymnastic or dri11lessons and from white China ink wells to the black 1eather tawse, or divided thonged punishment strap, which was every dominie or 'maister's' symbol of authority.

Langest serving dominie at Torphichen School was Andrew EIder, whose tombstone in the kirk yard states that he taught the village bairns for na less than forty years and other well remembered names amongst my predecessors include another Mr. Hendrie, who was na relation, a Mr. Menzies, Bob Currie O.B.E., who pioneered open plan education in West Lothian, and John McLeHan, who has recently retired as head of another West Lothian school in the village of Stoneyburn.

When I was promoted to a larger school at Murrayfield in Blackburn on the opposite side of Bathgate in 1971, my successar was my infant mistress, Mrs. Mary Wilson, who became Torphiehen Primary's fust ever woman head. Mrs. Wilson, who lives in the village in the Kirkgate, along with her husband Ralph, who became well-known as head of the controversial Wester Hailes Community High School, has now served Torphichen Primary as its headmistress for 14 years. Now, in the summer of 1985, her husband has also returned to work in the area as Rector of Armadale Academy.



37. This next picture still has a schooldays theme, but moves back to Bathgate. Walking along the pavement in Mid Street this pupil from Mid Street Primary School, whose covered play sheds can be seen in the background, was pre-occupied with whipping his 'peerie' or little wooden spinning top, while behind him in the middle of the traffic free street two of the girls from the same school skipped happily on their way home from lessons.

ft is interesting to note the boy's style of dress with his school cap perched on top of his 'pudding basin' hair cut, his collarless shirt, knee breeches, thick horne knitted stockings and 'tackitty' boots. It is interesting also to notice that he carries his school books in a satchel wom at his side and not in a leather school bag wom on his back as became the fashion in later years.

38. Opened in 1833, Bathgate Academy was gifted to the town by its greatest benefactor, John Newlands. Newlands was brought up in Bathgate, but later emigrated to Jamaica, where he made his fortune as a plantation owner. He never returned to Scotland, but apparently never forgot his youth in West Lothian, because when he died in 1799, he left all of his considerable fortune to 'ereet a free school in the parish of Bathgate'.

Unfortunately for Bathgate, Newlands' relatives were furious and disputed the will in a court battle which lasted fifteen years. In the end in 1814 the court ruled that only one fifth of Newlands' estate should be devoted to building the school, which he wanted 'for the bairns of Bathgate' and it took a further seventeen years for this sum of t14.S00 to amass sufficient interest to allow work to start on the erection of the Academy 'on an open site to the south of the town'.

Two years later in 1833 the new school with its impressive neoc1assica1 fa├žade and its distinctive clock tower, was ready to admit its first pupils, but shortage of funds meant that they had to pay fees instead of receiving the free education which Newlands had wished and this continued to be the policy for the next half century.

The school opened with 400 boys and girls and only the Rector and three assistant masters to teach them, so it is hardly surprising that the trustees were so concerned about discipline that they decided that in addition to the terrors of thrashings with the traditional Scottish tawse, their Academy should have a scale of fines ranging from one half penny for any pupil jostling on the st airs to two pence for any child who dared climb out onto the roof.

Today Bathgate Academy is housed in modern buildings at Bogha1l, but the original building still serves an educational use as part of West Lothian College of Further Education.

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