Dr Bell's School
West Lothian, Scotland
John Stewart was born in Leith in 1934 and attended Dr Bell's school
from 1939. Here are a couple of short extracts from John's memories
of attending Dr Bell's school in Great Junction Street, Leith.
Setting off to Dr Bell's School
"Each morning I would encounter Bill Wright the postie, weighed
down with his postbag coming down the street, and at other times
`Condie` the plumber with his toolbag balanced on one shoulder
without a steadying hand, and his grease-laden cap lying flat on
`Ding! Ding! Ding! The schoolbell pealed out from its
niche high up on the side of the building as I was meandering down
Brewery Lane. Off I set as fast as my little legs could
carry me. Reaching the policeman on duty outside the school,
no lollipop man then, he'd greet me with a "Never early are you?".
Livingston, West Lothian, Scotland,
February 7, 2006
Thank you to Jim Mowat, who attended Dr Bell's School from 1940 to 1947 for
sending me these memories of the school.
from 1940 to 1947 as I lived then in Kirk Street.
Three of my teachers were
Miss McPherson, Mrs Mackie and Miss Duncan. The headmaster in
those days was Mr Barrie.
I remember Miss Steele
wearing her striped blazer and cycling to school from somewhere down
Ferry Road. She was probably a nice old soul but she
terrified most of us."
never had school dinners but if I remember correctly those who did
had go to Bonnington primary for them"
remember Mr Mckenzie who ran the football. Our star player was
Jock Buchanan who played for Hibs, and was understudy to the
great Laurie Riley, and then I think played for Raith Rovers.
Mr Mckenzie went on to be
head of Newhaven Primary School."
Jim Mowat, Edinburgh: October 5, 2007
Thank you to Patricia Moore, Leith, for leaving
a message in the EdinPhoto guest book
"I have such
wonderful memories of Leith - Dr
Bells primary school from
then David Kilpatrick's from 1960 to 1963.
love to contact anyone from Leith that may
The Duthie family
all wonderful street pals that will be in my
warm memories from my childhood."
Patricia Moore, Leith, Edinburgh:
December 17, 2009
Reply to Patricia?
If you'd like to reply to
Patricia, please add a reply
to the message that she left in the EdinPhoto guest book on December 17,
email me then I'll pass your
message on to her (assuming that
I have discovered her
email address by then).
Stubbs: December 19, 2009
"I've enjoyed reading
about Leith's history. I'm
considering a return trip to Scotland this fall,
and wanted to know if Dr. Bells School in Leith was still standing.
I hope to see it again. It will bring back so many memories to me.
During the summer of 1959,
after college graduation, I was in an
international Quaker workcamp in Leith and we stayed in Dr. Bells school
and worked in the homes of the elderly in Leith.
l and another American plus 7 other
nationalities were in the camp, about 20 of us altogether.
We painted, cleaned and repaired
apartments as needed. Altho it
was almost 55 yrs ago, it was one of the most
memorable times of my life.
Seeing the dock area and meeting these
wonderful elderly people who had been thro so much during their lifetime
was such an inspiration to all of us.
Also working in teams of 2 or 3 with team
mates of different ethnic and cultural backgrounds was a wonderful
experience and certainly enriched my life.
On the last day of workcamp, we invited all
the folks in whose homes we had worked to Dr. Bell's
School for a lunch and a farewell program. When they sang
" Will Ye No' Come Back Again"
there wasn't a dry eye of the workcampers in the room."
Sarah Scheiman, USA: April 15,
Dr Bell's School
"Thanks for your memories
of the workcamp at Dr Bell's school.
If you do visit Edinburgh
this year, I hope you have an enjoyable visit here.
Yes, Dr Bell's school is
still standing. I don't know what its current use is, but it appears
to have recently been refurbished. It still looks very much the same
from the outside as it would have looked when you stayed there."
"As for the rest
of Leith, you'll notice some changes that have occurred over the past 55
years. There are now many more restaurants in Leith, but most of the
heavy industry has gone.
docks area has changed. The docks still have some commercial
traffic. There are no longer any passenger ferries operating from
Leith, but cruise liners have become regular visitors to Leith Docks
during the summer months. The docks now include:
large new apartment
blocks and other new housing
a large shopping
centre and cinema complex
- an Asda supermarket
- a health club,
and a casino!"
"During my first few years
in Edinburgh, from the age of 18 (in 1963) I was a member of International
throughout the year, decorating old people's homes in Leith and
elsewhere in Edinburgh. We used materials mostly donated by the
Leith paint and wallpaper company, Craig & Rose. I remember lots of
pink + white paint, and wallpaper with pink roses!
I also spent time on IVS
Workcamps of the type that you mention, elsewhere in Britain, and our IVS
Edinburgh Group made the arrangements for similar workcamps for
international volunteers who came to Edinburgh.
These volunteers were
accommodated in Dr Bell's School. They made good use of the
facilities there, including the swimming pool. I spent some time
with the volunteers there in the evenings, after they had completed their
voluntary work for the day."
Stubbs, Edinburgh: April 15, 2014
Old Leither Web Site
Dr Bell's school
page on John Stewart's 'Old
Leither' web site included more
of John's memories and other people's memories of Leith.
Sadly, John died after a short
illness in January 2012, and his Old
web site has finally come to an end. However much of the
material from that site can still be accessed on:
Spirit of Leithers website or
- Alan Bett's
Dr Bell's School Photos
Hannah Spence-Thom, USA,
"I attended Dr Bells Primary School from 1947
until about 1954. I had school photos taken every year but it seems that
no one saved them. I just wonder if there is anyone out there that has
I have lived here in the USA for almost 40
years, but have never forgotten my roots or my memories.
Hannah (Anna) Spence-Thom
USA: September 14, 2007
If you have any of the old photos that Hannah is looking for and would
like to contact her,
please e-mail me and I will pass your message on to
- Peter Stubbs, September 15, 2007.