Primary School

Please scroll down this page, or click on one of the links below:


John Munro
West Lothian, Scotland

-  Brand Place

-  Family

-  Walk through the Park

-  Teachers

-  Swimming Pool

-  Football

-  Abbeyhill School until 1962

-  Around Abbeyhill


Joyce Gardner
(née Ward)
Kelty, Fife, Scotland

-  Schools

-  Swimming Pools

-  Cold Weather

-  Qualifying Dance


George Smith
Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

-  Scottish Country Dancing Step

-  Paddy Bar


Nan Scott
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

-  Class Mates

-  Hibs Club


Sandra Hartland
née Reid)

Florida, USA

-  Abbeyhill Primary School

-  School Dinners

-  Play

-  School Baths

-  Race Day

-  Miners' Gala

-  Class Picture

-  Norton Park Secondary School


Jean Mowat
(née Stewart)
Glasgow, Scotland

-  Home

-  Teachers

-  Houses and Shops

-  Who Else Remembers?


Duncan Reid
West Lothian, Scotland

-  Miss Ingram

-  Miss Cameron


Gordon Davie
Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

-  Police: Road Safety School Visits


Gordon Davie
Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

-  Police: Road Safety School Visits


Laurie Thompson
Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England

-  Norwegian Lessons


Reply 1.

Irene McTernan
née Smith)


-  Remembering Laurence Thomson



Margaret Bryce


-  Remembering Norwegian Lessons


Gordon Davie
Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

-  Games at School

-  Chainie Tig

-  Tunnel Tig

-  Hide & Seek

-  Chariot Races

-  'Zulu'

-  Batman & Robin

-  Games Today


John Watt
Algarve, Portugal

-  School from 1938

-  Wonderful Teachers

-  Careers

-  Mrs Mochrie's Shop

-  Edinburgh


Gordon Davie
Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

-  My First Day, 1963, Miss McCallum

-  Our Names

-  Our Seats

-  Friday Religious Services

-  Miss Watt

-  Back of the Class

-  Moved up a Class

-  The Belt

-  Miss Clunie

-  Antidisestablishmentarianism

-  Miss Hendon

-  Mr Whitaker

-  Pupils


Gordon Davie
Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

-  School Song


Duncan Reid
West Lothian, Scotland

-  Swimming

-  Marching

-  Lessons

-  Miss Cameron


Alan Pilcher

-  School and Home

-  Friends

-  Football

-  The School Baths

-  The Headmaster

-  Teachers

-  Other Memories



John Munro

West Lothian, Scotland

Thank you to John Munro who wrote:

Brand Place

"Although my mum and dad lived at the top of the Dumbiedykes, my dad had been brought up in Brand Place so when I went to primary school I attended Abbeyhill.

For the first couple of years I stayed with my gran in Brand Place, during the week and stayed with my mum and dad at the weekend."


"My grandmother was Margaret Munro and my father was John Munro.  Living in Beggs Buildings were my great auntie Nan Kemp, and also Becky Squires, one of my father's relatives,  who lived in Begg's Buildings."

Walk through the Park

"From about the age of 6 I just stayed with my mum and dad and walked through the park to school.  I remember walking through Croft an Righ on cold winter's mornings.  The scene would be really ghostly.

Croft-an-Righ house at Abbey Hill, near Holyrood ©


"The teachers I remember from my time at Abbeyhill were:

Mr Duncan who was extremely strict but a very nice man. On warmer summer days he would simply pack the class in and take us over to the park for a walk or games of some sort.

-   Mr Barry, who, I think, became Headmaster.

 Miss or Mrs Hood

Mrs Cameron (I think that was her name.)  She was an Australian lady.

They were all excellent teachers.  The class I was in sent 2 or 3 of it's pupils off to fee-paying schools on scholarships.  The bulk of the rest of the class 'passed' the 'quali' and ended up in senior secondary schools.

Swimming Pool

"Abbeyhill was very unusual as a primary school in having its own swimming pool.  The janitor was a Mr. Marshall I think he was an ex-football player.

He let some of the local boys (myself included) use the pool during the holidays and on the odd weekend and we, in turn, gave him a hand with some chores round the school."


"Lunch breaks would be spent in what appeared to be 90-a-side football matches on the tarmac pitch in front of Begg's Buildings. These could get quite confusing as the pitch was often marked out as a netball pitch."

Abbeyhill School until 1962

"I attended Abbeyhill primary from either 1954 or 1955  until 1962.  I was at primary for about a year longer than normal as I won a scholarship place at George Heriot's School and had to stay on rather longer than my class mates.

I was rather badly injured in a road accident, outside the fire station, at the top of Easter Road and spent a very long time off school.  Strangely enough this helped me academically as I simply read and read for about 9 months. When I returned to school I got first place in my class rankings."

Around Abbeyhill

I also remember remember cinemas, shops and the Band of Hope at Abbeyhill.

John Munro, West Lothian, Scotland:  January 28, 2010



Joyce Gardner (née Ward)

Kelty, Fife, Scotland

Thank you to Joyce Gardiner (née Ward) who wrote:


"I came to Edinburgh from Rothesay, Isle of Bute, in 1954 and we stayed in 108 Easter Road.  I attended Abbeyhill School until 1956, I think.  I then moved on to Norton Park School for three years.

At Abbeyhill School, I was the oddity.  I came from the West Coast and spoke differently, so I stood out like a sore thumb - but i became popular before long and was OK."

Swimming Pool

"We had a swimming pool in the school, round the back at Beggs Buildings."

Cold Weather

"When the weather was cold and snowy, we were allowed to take off our shoes and put them beside the radiators to dry out."

Qualifying Dance

"We had our Qualifying Dance, and were taught the steps of various Scottish dances beforehand, which was a laugh as the boys could never master the Paddy Bar ***.

After the dance in the School Hall, we were allowed to go to Frankie's Café at Regent Terrace for a drink of juice and a burger of sorts.

Anthony Gnomes asked me to go to the dance, and bought me a small box of 4711 bath cubes and toilet water."

Joyce Gardner (née Ward):  November 3, 2010

***  I asked Joyce what the Paddy Bar was.

She replied:

"The Paddy Bar was a dance step  where you hopped from side to side, left to right, and the boys' feet would never quite get the hang of it."

Joyce Gardner (née Ward):  November 10, 2010



George Smith

Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada

Thank you to George Smith who wrote:

Scottish Country Dancing Step

"I think Joyce, above, is in fact referring to the French phrase for the ballet or Scottish Country Dancing step, the ''pas de bas' (or 'pas de Basques').

I could never do this step despite having been taught Scottish Country Dancing before demonstrating reels to bemused Boy Scouts at the World Jamboree in France in 1947."

George Smith,  Nanaimo, Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada:  November 16, 2010

Paddy Bar

I've now spoken to others, and it seems that the 'pas de bas' step was, in fact, known colloquially as the 'Paddy Bar'.

Here is a short you-tube video clip showing the pas de bas being performed.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  November 16, 2010



Nan Scott (née Hay)

Pakenham, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Thank you to Nan Scott who wrote:

Class Mates

"I have already caught up with a couple of class mates from Abbeyhill School, and would like to contact John Campbell or Ian Raddin or anyone else from our class at Abbeyhill School who reads this."

Hibs Cub

"It would also be good to hear from anyone in the Hibs Club (early- 1960s, before we headed for Oz) who might remember me or my late husband Tom (better known as Tosh)."

Nan Scott (née Hay), Pakenham, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia:
Message and email address posted in EdinPhoto Guestbook, December 1, 2011.

 Reply to Nan?

If you'd like to send a reply to Nan, please email me, then I'll pass on you message to her.

               Thank you

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  December 3, 2011




Sandra Hartland (née Reid)

Florida, USA

Thank you to Sandra Hartland for sending her memories of Abbeyhill Primary School.

Sandra wrote:

Abbeyhill Primary School

"I remember :

We all looked so good in our wee school uniforms."

-  My teacher's name was Mrs. Bell.

-  We used to get a small bottle of milk in the morning.

School Dinners

"The school dinners were good too:

-  mince and tatties

-  semolina pudding with a dab of jam in the middle.

We used to stand in line and the Lunch Ladies put the food on our plates, then we sat at long tables.  We could talk, but we were expected to behave"


"After that we would go to the playground, which was in front of Beggs Buildings, to jump rope or play peevers.

There was a wee sweetie shop by the playground where we would buy all kind of sweeties.  One of my favorites was the hot potato.  After you bit into the middle, there was always a tiny wee plastic doll, maybe a quarter of a inch big but to us it was the bees knees."

School Baths

"The other thing we were lucky to have was the School Baths.  That's where I learned to swim.  I can’t remember the teacher's name but he was good and the water was always warm.

We all had little navy blue woolly bathing suits and white rubber bathing caps Other schools would book time to come to the baths for swimming lessons."

Race Day

"We used to go to the Queen's Park for Race Day.  We would line up in two’s and walk along to the Vennel, to cut through to the park.

There was a brewery there, and the men used to wave to us and tell us to have fun.  It never smelled too good going through there, because they were always making the beer."

Miners' Gala

"The the other big day in the park was for the Miners Gala.  It was always a grand day:

-  tents of stuff



-  the grown-ups dancing and having a good time

-  mince pies

-  fish suppers

-  ice cream, and tons more."

Class Picture

"I'm going to look for my old class picture to send.  They were always taken outside, where we all sat on long benches and the teacher stood to the side."

Norton Park Secondary School

"Thanks for bringing back some wonderful memories.  Next time I'll write about Norton Park, my secondary school."

Sandra Hartland (née Reid), Florida, USA:  November 27, 2012




Jean Mowat (née Stewart)

Glasgow, Scotland

Thank you to Jean Mowat for posting a message in the EdinPhoto Guestbook.

Jean wrote:


"I was born in 1947 and lived at 38 Milton Street, Abbeyhill, until 1970. I attended Abbeyhill School along with most of Milton Street."


"At school, I remember:

 Miss McIntosh.  She was a Canadian teacher who used to do mental arithmetic tests on a Friday.

-  Mr Barry, who everybody loved.

Miss Edwards, who was the infant mistress.  She once tied a pupil to the chair in Primary 2 because the girl wouldn't sit still."

Houses and Shops

"I remember Miss Mochrie's sweetie shop which we all went into on our way into school."

Who Else Remembers?

I'd love to be in touch with anyone who remembers any of this."

Jean Mowat (née Stewart), Glasgow, Scotland:
Message posted in EdinPhoto Guestbook, October 12, 2013

Reply to Jean?

If you'd like to send a reply to Jean, please email me to let me know, then I'll pass on her email address to you.    Thank you.

Peter Stubbs,  Edinburgh:  October 12, 2013




Duncan Reid

West Lothian, Scotland

Thank you to Duncan Reid who wrote:

Miss Ingram

"I was a pupil at Abbeyhill when I was five, in 1942, with Miss Ingram.  She had a record class of best performers qualifying for entry to senior secondary schools such as Leith Acadamy, Broughton, Boroughmuir and Heriots, with only one pupil going to Norton Park."

Miss Cameron

"Miss Cameron was also a teacher at that time.  She was best known by the boys for her wonderful bosom!"

Duncan Reid, West Lothian, Scotland




Gordon Davie

Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

About an hour after I added Malcolm Finlayson's memories of the Police Road Safety Unit's visits to Trinity Primary School, I received the message below from Gordon Davie, writing about similar visits to Abbeyhill Primary School.

Gordon wrote:


Road Safety School Visits


"Does anybody remember when the Police would visit primary schools to give talks on road safety?  I went to Abbeyhill School in the second half of the 1960s and it happened three or four times.

We would all gather in the Main Hall, and one Policeman, a very jolly man calling himself Uncle John, or something like that, would explain why road safety was so important, and go into details of kerb drill, looking both ways before we crossed  -  all that kind of stuff, while his colleague showed slides of the aftermath of accidents - nothing too gory, obviously!

This would seem to be a special unit which went round the schools just before the summer holidays, when children would be more likely to encounter busy roads with no lollipop men to help them cross.


"The presentation always ended with everybody singing a rousing song which was obviously intended to make it easier to remember the guidance in keeping safe that he had given to us.

The words would be projected onto the screen while Uncle John indicated the place with a wooden pointer. I can only remember the last four lines, which went like this:

"Don't be in a hurry going to and from the school.

Safety for you, that's the golden rule!

We must have safety on the Queen's highway.

So let's start from today!"


"At the end, we would all shout 'Cha-Cha-Cha!' - it can't have been spontaneous, because we all did it, so presumably it was something handed down by the older kids who had seen the presentation the year before.

Uncle John would look puzzled, and study the screen closely. "It doesn't say 'Cha-Cha-Cha!'," he would complain, and make us sing it again. Of course we shouted 'Cha-Cha-Cha!' again, and he would pretend to get annoyed, and make us sing the song a third time.

Obviously, this routine was designed to make it easier for us to remember. I doubt that this was unique to our school.  Did anybody else see the presentation and did they shout at the end too?

Gordon Davie, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh:  July 9, 2014




Gordon Davie

Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

I has assumed that it was Malcolm Finlayson's recollections of the Police Road Safety Unit's visits to Trinity Primary School that had prompted Gordon Davie to send in his recollections 8 above.

However Gordon now writes:


Road Safety School Visits

"That's quite a coincidence that you should get two similar memories at the same time! I swear I hadn't read Malcolm Finlayson's one when I submitted mine!

It's interesting that his took place in the playground (with a practical demonstration!) while mine was in the school hall.  But the sergeant sounds like the same man, and it's definitely the same song!"

Gordon Davie, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh:  July 9, 2014

Yes Gordon:  As you say: "What a coincidence!"

Until yesterday, I'd received no recollections of the Police Road Safety Unit's visits to schools since setting up the EdinPhoto web site over ten years ago,  then two messages to add to the web site within an hour of each other!

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  July 10, 2014

More Recollections of School Visits

For more recollections of visits to schools by the Police Road Safety Unit, please see:

Police Road Safety Unit  -  School Visits




Laurie Thompson

Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England

Thank you to Laurie Thomson who wrote:

Norwegian Lessons

"I attended Abbeyhill Primary School from 1951 to 1958, and have a number of happy memories of my time there. One memory completely baffles me though, and if any of your EdinPhoto correspondents can clear it up, I'd be very grateful. I've tried various search engine searches at odd times to try to bottom-out the memory, but without success.

Some time towards the end of my time at the school, I remember being taught (don't laugh!) Norwegian.

I don't remember for how long, or for what purpose, but from memory it was by a young blond female teacher - perhaps a Norwegian exchange student teacher?

I clearly remember the emphasis on the importance of getting the modified Norwegian vowel sounds right, with lots of appropriate oral exercises aimed at achieving this.

(This was actually quite useful when I later went on to learn German at Broughton)."


"Does anyone else remember this?  I seem to recollect that there were several of us pupils involved in this activity, but I have no idea whether it was a formal trial to examine the feasibility of introducing language teaching in primary schools, or whether it was just to give the teacher/student teacher experience of teaching her native language to foreigners.

I don't remember any kind of formal conclusion to the exercise, such as the issue of a certificate, so maybe it was just the latter explanation.  I'd like to know, though."

Laurie Thompson, Chipping Sodbury, Gloucestershire, England:  July 31, 2014

Reply to Laurie Thompson?

If you'd like to send a reply to Laurie, please email me to let me know, then I'll pass on his email address to you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  August 22, 2014






Irene McTernan (née Smith)


Thank you to Irene McTerran who wrote:

Remembering Laurence Thompson

"I also attended Abbeyhill Primary School.  I was Irene Smith then, and I stayed in Brand Place.

I remember Laurence Thomson, but not the Norwegian lessons! I remember that  Laurence stayed down Marionville  Road.  I passed his house on the way to my Gran's house in Craigentinny.

I too went to Broughton."

Irene McTernan (née Smith):  29 March 2016






Margaret Bryce (née Muir)

Thank you to Margaret Bryce (née Muir)  who wrote:

Norwegian Lessons

"I also remember going to Norwegian lessons as Laurie Thomson did.

 I wasn't sure why some of the class were singled out for these lessons.  I recall being given some sweeties, I think they were Smarties, after the lesson by the Norwegian teacher.

I still remember the rhyme we had to repeat, but as it was in Norwegian I don't know the spelling of it. 

I have happy memories of Abbeyhill.  I lived in Salmond Place, then we moved to Lady Menzies Place.

I attended Abbeyhill School from 1947 - 1954.

Margaret Bryce (née Muir):  25 February 2017





Gordon Davie

Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

Thank you to Gordon Davie who wrote again.

Gordon wrote:


"I’ve been thinking about some of the games we used to play at Abbeyhill School. Tig was quite popular, usually in one of two versions.

Chainie Tig

"In Chainie Tig, the first person caught had to join hands with the person who was ‘het’ and the two would set off in pursuit of further prey. As each additional person was caught he too had to join hands, resulting in the chain becoming longer and longer as the game went on.

It could be quite scary seeing a line of eight or nine boys charging towards you, especially if you weren’t actually playing!

Because only the ones at either end could actually capture somebody, as they were the only ones with a free hand, the line had to change direction very quickly to bring them within reach of the victim.

I remember my dad telling me that he and his brother were playing one day.  (In case any of your readers have suddenly come up with a bizarre mental image, let me make it clear that this was when they were young boys!)   My uncle was at the end of the line and when it suddenly swung round he lost his grip and ran headlong into a wall, almost knocking himself out! We used to get up to things that would turn a Health and Safety officials' hair white overnight."

Tunnel Tig

"Another favourite was Tunnel Tig, where anybody caught had to stand with one arm outstretched touching a wall. Anyone who hadn’t yet been captured could free one or all of the ‘prisoners’ by running under the arms - this was the tunnel of the game’s title.

It could be very frustrating for the chaser to be down to just one or two only to have all of his victims freed again!  At this point in the game he couldn’t stray too far from the ‘den’ yet still had to make an effort to catch the remaining players."

Hide & Seek

"Then, there was 'Hide and Seek', or ‘Hidie-Go-Go’ as we called it. At Abbeyhill there was an interesting twist which I haven’t heard elsewhere, though I very much doubt it was exclusive to us.

If you were spotted, there would be a mad dash back to the ‘den’ and if you beat the Seeker, then you hadn’t been caught.

In most versions of the game you had to shout “1-2-3” as you touched the marker, but we would shout “Coco-Fifteen!” in the first round. Then in the second game the call changed to “Coco-Fourteen” and so on.

You always had to remember the correct shout because if you called out the wrong number, it didn’t count!

Chariot Races

"We also had chariot races - teams of three, with two boys holding hands representing the horses and the third as the driver, holding on to their belts. Possibly this was inspired by the famous scene from the film ‘Ben Hur’."


"Another activity inspired by a film - it can’t really be described as a game - was ‘Zulu’. All there was to this was that we gathered behind the two ringleaders, who were clutching a large wire mesh gate which we had found propped against a wall.

For about thirty seconds we would stamp our feet while chanting “Zulu! Zulu!”, then the gate would be pushed down with a crash and we all charged forward, yelling.

I’m sure it made sense to us at the time!"

'Batman and Robin'

"A friend and I used to play at ‘Batman and Robin’.  The TV series with Adam West was extremely popular at the time. Looking back, there might have been more point if we had a third person to portray the villain!"

Games Played Today

"Many adults these days are sad to see the apparent decline in children playing - the common complaint is that instead of being outside getting fresh air, they are all more interested in computer games and things like Facebook.

Well, you’ll get no argument from me on that score!"

Gordon Davie, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh:  August 30, 2014




John Watt

Algarve, Portugal

Thank you to John Watt who wrote:

School from 1938

"I was born in 1933 and attended Abbeyhill school from 1938My first teacher was Mrs. Macdonald. I clearly remember the huge plastic sheet which was thrown over the blackboard with the alphabet on it.  -   "A" is for Apple, etc, etc, and the repetition being thumped out."

Wonderful Teachers

"We had wonderful teachers, like:

Miss Swan

Miss Dobson

Mr. Rutherford

Mr Cooper."


"We all enjoyed a wonderful primary education. Many of us went on to enjoy wonderful careers:

Alec Imrie who lived at Beggs Buildings became a Senior Officer in the army.

Forrester Cockburn became a professor of Pediatrics in Glasgow and is recorded in Who's Who?

-   Ian Dempster, became a Chartered Accountant.

Albert Dempster graduated from Edinburgh University to enjoy a brilliant career teaching English all over the world.

I moved into the world of travel with 4 years in then British Rail , followed by 40 years with British Airways.

We five meet, 4 times a year, for lunch at the Royal Scots Club in Edinburgh."

Mrs Mochrie's Shop

"I remember, well:

-  the penny Vantas from Mrs Mochrie's shop in Brand Place.

-   the Swimming Pool with its very cold showers.

-  Mr Rutherford, who ran the excellent football team, and who recruited promising boy sopranos for Old St. Paul's church in Jeffrey Street, where I was a member of the choir for 21 years."


"I was born in Elsie Inglis' Maternity Hospital (EIMH) and lived in 2 Lyne Street until the end of the war, then at 1 Esplanade Terrace, Joppa.

I now live in the Algarve Portugal, but I frequently return to Scotland and Edinburgh, the 'cradle of civilisation'.

When I'm in Edinburgh, I wander down Montrose Terrace and stop at the top of Lyne Street, which was a designated children's playground.  I remember all the street games that we innocently enjoyed. Abbeyhill and the school gave us a great start in life."

John Watt, Algarve, Portugal:  November 27, 2014




Gordon Davie

Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

Thank you to Gordon Davie for writing again, this time with lots of memories of the time when he attended Abbeyhill Primary School.

Gordon wrote

My First Day  -  1963

Miss McCallum

"I started at Abbeyhill School after the summer of 1963 and still have vivid memories of my first day there.  My mum took me into the classroom where I met my teacher, Miss McCallum.

Some of the other pupils were already at their desks.  In hindsight, it seems likely that the school had arranged staggered start times so that the poor teacher didn't have to try to register twenty-odd five-year-olds all at the same time!"

Our Names

"On the teacher's desk were several strips of paper, each with a child's name on. She asked me if I could pick out my own name. This was obviously so she could determine each pupil's reading ability.

Well, I had been reading since I was three (I'm told my grandmother taught me using the Radio Times!) so I was able to pick my name without any difficulty."

Our Seats

"The teacher then said something which horrified me - she was going to sit me next to Jenny!  Well, leaving my mum was one thing, but I didn't want to sit next to a GIRL!

I needn't have worried, as I had misheard her, and I actually sat next to a boy called Jamie.  Though we quickly became friends, all I can remember about him, fifty years later, is that his grandmother lived in Galashiels!

Miss McCallum was also the Infant Mistress and one afternoon a week her duties took her out of the classroom, so for that time we had a fill-in teacher called Mrs Linklater."

Friday Religious Services

"I also remember that on Friday mornings the whole school gathered in the gym for a religious service, led by the minister from London Road Church, a Mr. Reid.

As the youngest class ,we sat on the floor in the front row, but some of the boys from the top class took part in the service and stood beside the teachers.

I knew that some day it would be my turn to be out there - they looked like giants from my perspective. Of course they were all just eleven years old."

Miss Watt

"I'm not sure if there were two intakes a year back then, but I don't think it was a full year before the class moved on to a new teacher.  Her name was Miss Watt, an elderly lady who walked with a stick."

Back of the Class

"I remember one day for some reason, I was moved to sit at the back of the class and bursting into tears.  My mum told me that not long after that I came home with a note from the teacher advising her to have my eyes tested.

Apparently I was getting out of my seat and walking to the front of the class so I could read the blackboard - though I don't remember that myself this was clearly why I was unhappy about being moved to the back row. Anyway, it was discovered that I needed glasses and I'm wearing them in my first school photo, taken around 1964."

Moved up a Class

"At some point in my early school career it was felt I was too advanced for the class I was in and (with my parents' approval) I was moved up a class.

I can't remember exactly when this happened but I found myself in with pupils a year older than I was.  My teacher now was Miss Mitchell - my memory of her is that she looked a little like the singer Nana Mouskouri.  She had the same shoulder-length dark hair and thick-framed glasses."

The Belt

"I must have been a bit of a disruptive influence in class, as I was given the belt (the infamous 'Lochgelly Tawse')  more than once.  One occasion that sticks in my mind was during an art lesson.  I forget exactly what I had done but no doubt I had been flicking paint at someone, or something similar.

The teacher misjudged her distance from me when she belted me.  It hit me on the  forearm, rather than the palms.  Because we were doing art, I had my sleeves rolled up, so it left me with a red wheal half-way up my arm.

This is one reason why I have always been against corporal punishment in schools, but let's not open that can of worms."

Miss Clunie

"My next teacher was Miss Clunie - of all the teachers I had in twelve years of schooling she was far and away my favourite.

I'm sorry to say I was a bit of a teacher's pet, but she was genuinely fond of me. In those days schoolchildren were supplied with free milk - bottles holding a third of a pint, which were handed out just before morning break.

Unfortunately it was served at room temperature and I've never been fond of lukewarm milk, which meant it took me ages to drink and I would often be kept back to finish it while the other children were outside in the playground.

Miss Clunie and I would have little chats - I would tell her what I was doing in the Cubs, and stuff like that."


"For some reason, one day she taught me how to spell the word "antidisestablishmentarianism" and this became my party piece.

Word went round that I was the boy who could spell THAT word, and pupils would ask me to spell it and I would rattle it off. I had no idea what it meant, of course - even now I have only a vague idea that it has something to do with schisms in the Church - but I was quite proud of it."

Miss Hadden

"My next teacher was Miss Hadden, but I'm afraid I don't remember too much about my time with her. She was a nice enough lady and a very capable teacher, but nothing really stands out.  Maybe that shows how good a teacher she was!"

Mr Whitaker

"In my final year at Abbeyhill, my teacher was Mr. Whitaker. This was something of a culture shock - a teacher who was a MAN!  I recall that he had a sense of humour but only in the right places - if you stepped out of line he could be quite strict. I hope I'm not doing him a disservice here: we are talking about forty-five years ago."


"Finally, off the top of my head, arethe names of a few of my fellow pupils ...

Ian Munro,

Jimmy Ross,

William McSherry,

- Gordon Ross (no relation to Jimmy),

- Archie and Alex Risk (non-identical twins),

-  Alan Risk (their cousin),

-  Andrew Barclay (my best pal),

-  Christopher Masson,

Ralph Birch,

-  Raymond Taylor,

Gordon Reidie,

Ian Robertson,

-  Colin Cribbes,

-  Keith Storrier.

And the girls ...   (There weren't many in the class.)

-  Lynn Hornsey,

-  Angela Miller,

-  Margaret Fairley,

-  Shona Marr,

-  Irene Grainger,

-  Carol Tracy.

Gordon Davie, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh:  February 15, 2015




Gordon Davie

Abbeyhill, Edinburgh

Thank you to Gordon Davie for writing again.

Gordon wrote

School Song

"I wonder if any of your readers can help me with the words to the Abbeyhill School Song. It was composed just a year or two before I left in 1969.

As I recall, a new music teacher joined the staff, found that we didn’t have a school song and promptly wrote one.  I have a vague recollection that her name was Miss Taggart, years before the TV show, but I may be confusing her with someone else!

After nearly fifty years (a chill ran down my spine when I typed that!) I can only remember the odd fragment of the song. It begins:

                "Abbeyhill, the school that I belong to

                Abbeyhill, the name of which I’m proud"

There my memory fails, and the next part I can remember is the first and last lines of the last verse (I think there were at least three):

                "Abbeyhill, when we have gone forever


                Through the years, forgotten never

                Childhood days at dear old Abbeyhill!"

As I said, it was composed around 1967-68, so anyone who attended the school before then will probably be completely unaware of the song unless they had younger brothers or sisters or indeed children of their own who were at the school later. But hopefully somebody who does know the song can help fill in the many gaps!"

Gordon Davie, Abbeyhill, Edinburgh:  February 15, 2015

Reply to Gordon?

If you remember some or all of the words of the Abbeyhill Primary School song and would like to send a reply to Gordon, please email me to let me know, then I'll pass on his email address to you.

    -  Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  21 September 2016




Duncan Reid

West Lothian, Scotland

Thank you to Duncan Reid who wrote:


"If there are people out there reading about Abbeyhill primary, perhaps you might like to recall the fact that it was the only school in Edinburgh that had its own swimming pool other than the Royal High which at that time was a fee-paying school."

- - - - -

"The Swimming Teacher was Mrs Bambery.  There was also a man whose name I cannot remember. 

There were two ways you were taught to swim:

(1) You had  a harness suspended from wires above.  You had your arms through a couple of hoops and you were then dragged along the length of the pool by the Instructor who strongly recommended that you keep your head above the water. 

(2) Having survived this form of water torture you then progressed to having a large pole stuck under your chin and being told swim like a frog.

 Surprisingly, you soon learned to swim!"

- - - - -

"They were great days then, as you then had the chance to gain your 'Life Saving Certificate' which in retrospect was a major contribution to the saving many people's lives.

Can anybody remember 'surface diving' for a rubber brick and swimming backwards to the shallow end, and finally having the satisfaction of passing your bronze 'Life Saving Certificate' ."


"One other ditty I recall was that during the War.  When the playtime was finished, you were marched back up the stairs to the tune of Colonel Bogie with janitor thumping a metal sheet on stair railings (boom boom bum) and singing:

"Hitler has only got one ball.
Himmler has something similar.
But  poor old Gobbels, has no balls at all."

Now there was patriotism"



"Apart from all this the education of Reading, Writing and Sums was also included.


Miss Cameron

"Miss Cameron was also a teacher at that time, best known by the boys for her wonderful bosom!"

Duncan Reid, West Lothian, Scotland:  8 November 2013




Alan Pilcher

West Lothian, Scotland

Thank you to Alan Pilcher who wrote:

School and Home

"I came across this site as I was reminiscing about my time at Abbeyhill Primary, School which I recall as very happy.

I lived in the Colonies (Maryfield) and like many others I recall the area as a small town in itself.


From my time at Abbeyhill I remember names such as:

-  Gordon Davie

-  Ewan Epton

-  Roddie Mackay

-  Donald Marr

-  Raymond Lumsden

-  Alan Kewley

-  Anne Veitch

-  Barbara Bannon

-  Jaquie Henderson

-  Heather Hutchison

 -  Heather Young

     and many more.


I didn’t play football but remember the Jannie, Mr Jim Cummings who lived in East Norton Place and ran the school team & who had, at one time played with Hibs.

The School Baths

I spent many happy hours at the school baths both in class time and with the local cubs and scouts.  The swimming instructor, as I recall, was Jim Carrigan.

The Headmaster

Headmasters I recall were Mr Dunnett, Mr Walker & Mr Bruce...Walker was by far the best despite belting me a few times.


Teachers who taught me were

-  Mrs Anderson (infants)

-  Mr Barry

-  Mr Baxter (a nutter)

-  Miss Clunie (a bit snobby)

Special commendation to an art teacher Miss Valvona.  Even at my tender age I found her so nice.  When she was at Broughton Senior Secondary school she was Mrs Farquharson, such a lovely lady with a sexy voice.

Other Memories

Other memories are:

-  Smiths the Drysalters on Cadzow Place

-  The Wishing Well café

-  Bergers the Jaffa King

-  The Station Bar

-  Elizabeth Cranston, the dress shop

-  Scouts at Abbey Church and

-  the Launderette at the corner of Abbey St and Montrose Terrace.

Alan Pilcher:  18 October 2019