Education - Port Glasgow's Schools
In the fist statistical account (1791-1799) education provision in the town was noted to be poor. This was not unusual for the time. There seems to have been three small public schools in the town each having a roll of around 50 children each. One was called the Grammar School where writing and arithmetic was taught and in another English. They were attended by 150 children and standards were low.
Details are accurate for 1795.
There were 147 children born and of these 74 were boys and 73 girls the average number of children in a family in these days was 3.
Schools were not run by the local authority at this time and there seems to have been a few small schools in the town. One was the Mill school which was situated just inside the gates beside two houses it's first teacher being listed as Mrs Finlayson. Another listed  was the Burgh school which was held in the first Town Hall and Mr John Gardener was in sole charge of this until 1858. I have no firm details or dates but there was also a RC school called St Mary's which was in Crawfurd Street.
By the time of the second statistical account (1824-1845) there had been an increase in the number of schools but education on offer was still poor. There were eight schools. Six of these were private and the corporation provided one which was located in King Street. Formerly there had been three school masters who each had a salary of £20 per annum. Details are not complete but some these eight schools mentioned were one in Princess Street and another in the Bouverie area of town. The 8th school was Beaton's for orphan children which seems to have been situated at the head of Balfour Street. 105 Children between the ages of 6 and 15 years could not read or write and 436 could read but not write.
The education act of 1872 (which stated every child from the age of 5 had to attend school) resulted in a new school being built for the town. There was much public disapproval for the new school to be situated "in the heights" but it was finally built on the farmland out at Chapelton.
Chapelton School was opened in 30th July 1877, staffed by headmaster Mr Andrew Thompson and two assistant teachers. Subjects taught were English Literature, French and Physical Geography. Later in the schools life Arithmetic, Music and Map Drawing were added adding the provision for  for secondry education. The school roll by 1909 stood at 500 children.
At this time I need details of when the school closed and the building removed. This would have been prior to 1975
St Johns School in Balfour Street was opened in 1883. The school catered for primary and later junior secondary education with pupils who managed to pass their 11+ having the option of further education at St Columba's school in Greenock.
This school is no longer standing but was noted as having some intresting details in the stone work
I am unsure of when this school was closed or the building demolished.
Port Glasgow School Board had acquired the land for Jean Street School as far back as 1875 but the school was not opened till 8th November 1884 initially having just two levels and accommodating 716 pupils. The architects were  W&D Barclay and the building was based around a recently opened school in Polocksheilds which had been designed by the same firm. It cost £7,000 .This school replaced the one in Princess Street and the Bouverie Terrace school. By 1885 the school had 728 pupils. In 1898 a third level was added to the building allowing for secondary courses to be offered.The school was closed in 1978 with the 221 pupils being moved to Higholm building.
The building lay empty for a number of years before finally being converted into flats in the 90's. The building is now called School Court.
Highholm Higher Grade school first opened for pupils in 1909, although there had been a Grammar School in Port Glasgow for many years before this. In the middle of the 19th century the grammar school employed 3 teachers.
The Highholm school of 1909 recruited its pupils from the older schools of Chapelton, St John's , Jean Street and Clune Park and catered for children in infant, primary, supplementary and higher grade departments.
The initial roll of the school was 413 pupils with a staff of 13.
The building boasted a laboratory, art room, cookery room, workshop and drill hall.
The school is still in use today but no longer with pupils in attendace as they were all moved to the new Newark Primary.The photographs below show were taken in the building in 2010.
The building was finally demolished in 2012 and the site now contains a car park.

Derelict Jeans Street School photograph was submitted to the site by J C Brown

Picture courtesy of
Photographs and details of more modern schools around town can now be found here.
In 1848 the old church buildings of Hamilton church housed the Free Church Kirk School. The best known headmaster was Mr Colin M Ritchie who was paid £20 a year ( he would have had the fees in addition to this salary). He held this post for 11 years and one assistant, the son of a Greenock joiner who would later become well known throughout the world as Professor James Denney. The building continued to be used untill 1885 although control was taken over by the school board.
The schools listed in Mr Davie's recollections of the town in 1907 were as follows:

W Potts had his school in the Masonic Lodge he taught Latin, French and German only. John Nicol, Lodge Close below the Town Hall, writing and arithmetic only. William Buchanan, Lodge Close below Masonic Lodge. James Knox, afterwards professor in the UP College succeeded by Thomas Young, in the Methody Entry, King Street. Wm Broadfoot Burnt Entry, Princes Street, head of Balfour Street. J Cargill, Blackstone: Mr Cargill had evening classes during the winter months, which were attended by apprentice sailors. Ann Campbell taught an infant and sewing class. Philip Barr, Roman Catholic, foot of King Street.

St Johns had rented accomodation for the purpose of education for some years before their church was opened. It had 30 children during the day and 100 at night and also run a Sunday School.
This page last modified on Saturday, June 16, 2012

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