Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Migdale Free Church School, Creich

Photographs show Migdale Free Church of Scotland together with the old schoolhouse.

William Findlater Macdonald, born in Durness in 1826, son of John Macdonald and Johan Mackay, was the schoolmaster here. William died in 1902 at Migdale. He was married to Marion Leslie of Airdins, Creich and they had about nine children all born here in the schoolhouse.

We are currently trying to find some information on William's years as schoolmaster. If anyone can help be glad to hear from you.

We have heard from one gentleman whose grandfather attended the school and recalled carrying a peat to school in order that come winter they would be warm.

Many thanks to Hector Macrae for the photographs.


Monday, 8 June 2009

Tongue School circa 1955

Tongue School photograph taken around 1954-1955.

Girl sixth from left in back row is Dolina Manson Marshall from Blandy. Boy next to her is her cousin Dannie Mackay from Dalcharn, Tongue.

The girl fourth from the left in the back row is Catherine Keith.

Can anyone add any names to this picture or confirm the year?

Photograph sent in by Isabel Griggs, Australia. Thanks Isabel.

Bettyhill School circa 1963

This lovely photograph was taken at Bettyhill School, Farr, around 1962 or 1963.

Young girl at at right hand side, middle row, is Dolina Manson Marshall from Blandy.

Can anyone put a name to any others in the photograph? By clicking on the image you will see it full size.

Many thanks to Isabel Grigg, Australia, for sending the photograph.

Oldshore School

Photograph shows the old school house today, a holiday cottage

I started school at Oldshore Primary School, Kinlochbervie in 1952. The teacher was a Miss Elizabeth Fraser, who lived in Droman and she taught classes 1 to 7 in one room. I was Oldshore school for four years.

Gaelic was the language spoken by everyone in the area and most children understood it even if they didn't speak it. I remember my grandfather reading the Gaelic Bible first thing in the morning and last thing at night and this was the norm in most houses.

During my time at Oldshore school I was never taught Gaelic, although it was taught to the older children in the room. I remember this because one day the teacher was giving a Gaelic lesson to the older children and she asked them what the Gaelic for herring was. The boy she asked didn't know and then she made me stand up and give the answer. The teacher told the boy it was a disgrace that he didn't know. For me giving the correct answer I was given a slap in the ear
from the older boy after school for being so smart!!

Hector Macrae
Bonar Bridge

Badcall Inchard School

Badcall School which is now a restaurant.

Snippets from the press but unfortunately no date. Can anyone date this article?

In view of the resignation of Mr D D Todd, MA, headmaster, Badcall-Inchard Public School, it was resolved to advertise for a graduate male teacher.
Dr Macrae was of opinion that a female teacher would carry out the work.
Chairman – There are three side schools.
Dr Macrae – But surely a lady teacher can carry on. It would be very much cheaper and we would no doubt get the same quality of work.
The chairman was of opinion that a male head teacher should be advertised for and in this he was supported by Mr Murray.
Dr Macrae said that a lady teacher carried on the work at Larachan School, where the roll was larger than at Badcall-Inchard.
Mr Lundie did not think a lady teacher would be suitable.
It was carried, as stated, that a male graduate teacher be advertised for.

Lairg School

Prior to the general meeting of the Sutherland Education Committee held in the Sutherland Arms Hotel, Lairg, yesterday (Wednesday) the Bursary Sub-Committee went very fully into the list of applications for bursaries for the current year and effected a saving of £905 on the estimates. When the recommendations of this committee came before the parent body the economy was reduced to a sum of £840. The total sum allocated in bursaries amounts to £1115.

The director of education said that in connection with the proposed extension of the playground at Shinness School, Lairg, the fencing, according to the architect's report, would cost in the region of £20. 0.57 of an acre was proposed as the extension and Mr Horne was not so far in a position to say whether any drainage was required or not.

Mr Hugh Davidson – The extension of the playground at the school is very necessary. The present playground is really too small, and the amount asked by the crofter for the piece of land proposed to be taken over is very reasonable. At present, when the boys play football on the playground there is no room for the girls, and in addition windows get broken. The extension is overdue.

After several members referred to the difficulty which might arise in getting the land, Mr Davidson said the matter was not altogether so mountainous as was made out, and that the area might be got very cheaply. If the proprietor was approached, and they got the tenant's consent, then everything would be in order.

Mr John Ross – There is great necessity for adequate playground facilities here and I have no doubt if the proprietor is approached in the proper way he may make you a gift of the ground.
It was decided to approach the proprietor in regard to the extra piece of ground required for the playground.

Unfortunately I do not have a date for the above but believe it may be 1953. Can anyone confirm or give correct date?

New Head for Golspie 1953

Photograph shows Mr D K Macrae, front row centre, while head of Golspie School with other members of staff. Clicking on the photograph will bring it up larger for viewing.

1953 news tells us that Mr W. Rutherford, native of Helmsdale, Kildonan, head of Golspie senior secondary school in succession to Mr D. K. Macrae who retires at Easter.

Younger son of the late Mr and Mrs Andrew Rutherford, Helmsdale.
Educated at Helmsdale school and Aberdeen University - - - - “
From the Northern Times 30th January 1953

Does anyone have any further information on Mr Rutherford and Mr Macrae?
If so please email me - link on left.

Thanks lots to Shirley Sutherland, Golspie Heritage for above photograph. Lots more pics from Golspie Schools can be seen HERE.


Sunday, 22 March 2009


Dated from around 1700 the old parish school ruins on the shore of Loch Croispol was the former Established Church school. This was said to be the first free school in Scotland and served the township of Balnakeil up to the clearances.

In 1792 the Statistical Report states: “The salary of the parochial school is one hundred merks Scotch payable by Lord Reay with recourse on his Lordships tenants for one half. The quarter payments are two shillings and six pence for teaching Latin; two shillings for arithmetic, one shilling and six pence for reading and writing and one shilling for teaching to read. The schoolmaster has sometimes twenty shillings and sometimes ten or eleven shillings a year as precentor and session clerk. He has one shilling for every marriage and three pence for a baptism. The salary and perquisites could not maintain him if his employers did not accommodate him in board and lodgings. The number of scholars is forty-five. The present master is Mr Thomas Ross”.

In 1834 there were four schools in the parish, one Parochial, one Assembly and two Subscription. Following the Disruption of the Church a decision given in the Court of Session identified the work of the Assembly school with the Church of Scotland (the established church) and the Free Church set up their own school near the present church in Sangomore. This building was demolished around 1970. Two church schools continued in existence until the Education (Scotland) Act of 1872 became law when they merged into the Scots system.

Today’s primary school situated in Durine has a long history. Parts of the building date from 1830 when the Church of Scotland provided funds shortly after the shift in population from the Balnakeil domain. There have been sixteen different head teachers since 1869. It was a two teacher school.

Rebuilt in 1911 it then had around 80 pupils. Until 1939 it was both a primary and secondary school. In 1939 children of secondary age were then schooled on the east coast away from home. In 1943 the school became a one teacher school for two years. Electric lighting was installed in 1957 followed by central heating and indoor toilets in 1959. Before this, peats brought in by the children heated the school.

The janitor was paid two pound a quarter annum and worked for ten years, attending the fires three times a day. He cleaned the school on a Sunday. When a rise of one pound was denied he quit the job.

Since 1995 the children leaving the primary school attend the currently (1997) most modern school in Europe, Kinlochbervie High School, Eddrachillis.

For over 40 years the older children travelled to Golspie on the east coast, to live in hostels or board with local families, to attend Golspie High school. For many years the children stayed there all term only returning home at the holidays. Eventually this was altered and they came home for monthly visits.

Side schools were used when there were a number of children in a remote part. These were usually wooden and corrugated iron huts. There have been side schools at Cape Wrath, Laid and in the 1940s at Rhigolter for the children of the shepherd living at Carbreck and Rhigolter. Side schools were not usually staffed by qualified teachers.

In 1959 the school in Laid was closed and the three children attending there were brought into Durine school. At one time this school had forty pupils. The small gable school and schoolhouse was built in 1894 of local rubble, reddish-tooled dressing and tall chimney stacks.

The side school at Cape Wrath was in a very isolated area. Around 1935 there were ten children at the school which was situated at Achiemore. The children had to go over to Durness to sit their exams and for their Christmas Party. It was said at the time that the school was the most isolated on the mainland of Great Britain. The school closed in 1947.

For much more information on the old schools in Durness - see here - includes a photograph of the old school building at Loch Croispol.