Schools fail to pass the tests of time

NEVER work with children and animals, the saying goes. However, if you train as a teacher, you do have to expect a fair number of the former to be part of your day-to-day working career.

But a roomful of cats must have been an extra treat for the teachers at Craigmillar Primary School on the day our main picture was taken in 1963. The pupils had brought their furry friends in for a pet show, some of which look less than delighted to be in class.

The school, built in the 1930s by the Edinburgh City Architect Ebenezer J MacRae, did manage to survive its pets day – however, it fell victim to falling numbers and closed in December 1999. When there were less than 100 pupils, it amalgamated with nearby Peffermill Primary School.

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The B-listed building, which includes a mural painted by John Maxwell, has been given a new lease of life as business units and an arts centre as part of a scheme to regenerate Craigmillar.

Plans have also been approved to build 83 flats and homes on the grounds on Harewood Road.

At the time, the decision to close the school was branded a "disgrace" by parents. Just a few days ago, the go-ahead for the latest school closures proved no less controversial. Lismore and Bonnington primary schools will close at Christmas, just as Craigmillar did, while Westburn will close next summer.

Rightly or wrongly, schools have come and gone across the city and beyond over the years – and no doubt will continue to do so as populations shift and political fashions change.

Darroch Secondary School, on Gillespie Street, was the alma mater of one Sean Connery, described by a former fellow pupil as "big and hard as nails in an easy-going way". It disappeared in 1972 when it merged with Boroughmuir.

St Peter's School, scheduled for demolition in 1957, was believed to be one of the oldest school buildings in the Lothians. The Musselburgh building was erected as a chapel by local Episcopalians in 1785. The pupils transferred to Pinkie St Peter's Primary School in 1956.

German bombs almost completed the task back in 1941 when Leith's David Kilpatrick School was hit, but it was eventually demolished after the school merged with Trinity Academy in 1972. Located on North Junction Street, the building was designed by George Craig in 1915, when it was first used as a barracks.

Edinburgh College of Domestic Science began as the Edinburgh School of Cookery back in 1875. By the mid-1960s, when our picture was taken, the college had around 600 full-time students at its premises on Atholl Crescent – and by 1972 it had adopted the name Queen Margaret College to better suit its by-then broader education base – and, in the 1990s, became a university college.

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When the axe fell on Ainslie Park High School in 1991, parents, staff and pupils marked the occasion with a fun farewell bash which belied the bitter struggle in the previous months to keep the school open. The school was merged with Broughton High.

James Clark School in Holyrood was named after Lt-Col James Clark, Deputy Lieutenant of the city, who was killed in action – aged 55 – in the First World War. It closed in 1972.

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