Nitshill Memories “School”

The History

Nitshill Memories


Old St Bernard’s School

Not every school holiday, I wouldn’t know the exact year, but the old Corporation of Glasgow opened up a local school, and the dinner-hall ladies served us free dinner ticket weans. The kids in our stair all went marching up to it. My sister Betty, who wasn’t old enough even to be at school, couldn’t go, and this is the funny part of it…. One day, the dinner-hall lady said “Have you got any brothers or sisters at home and couldn’t like, attend, they were ill or whatever, because if we did then we could bring pots and pans and they’d send home a meal.” So just about everybody shot their hands up and said they had a sick family child member, and they asked who the family member was, I said Betty... Betty wasn’t even at school yet. So, I’m thinking, we could’ve used any name, because I’m guessing they knew from the start that us scallywags were at it. However, up the street we all went, every day during the holidays, rattling our pots and pans and came back holding carefully the goodies we’d brought home."

Janette Aitken, East Renfrewshire

Margaret did not go to nursery school and did not remember anyone else  going to nursery. There were two intakes to Primary School then, with one in the summer and one after Christmas. She wondered if she had even started school at Easter. This system was later changed to only one intake. Margaret was always one of the youngest in class. She started school in Harmony Row Primary in Govan, then moved to Hills Trust, before finally moving to Gowanbank Primary in P.5. Her P.5 and P.6 teacher was Mr Ross, and she has good memories of that time. One of the memories is of going to Galloway House Residential School with her class. Margaret went there twice and thought it was a great experience. They went for one month and she remembers feeling homesick when writing home to her family. She remembers getting up in the morning and, if you had long hair, having your hair braided or put in a ponytail. Then, going to breakfast before having some lessons. Lunch followed lessons, and then the children were allowed outside to play and have adventures. In the evening, sometimes, they would play records and sing along; one of the favourites was Hold Tight by Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Titch. Sandy Shaw singing Puppet on a String was another popular song, which won the Eurovision Song Contest. That was probably in 1967. At Galloway House, the boys and girls were in separate wings, with the teachers in between. Margaret remembers being given the slipper once, for talking after lights out! She and Helen Carney, who lives on Peat Road, were both given the slipper across their bottom, and put into a bathroom downstairs so they wouldn’t disturb the other girls.

Margaret Arnott, Glasgow

Jean attended Shawlands Academy where she learned Domestic and Housewifery, which entailed laundry, cookery, housekeeping and bathing a doll.

I made my own apron for cookery, and I was making a skirt when I left school, so I took that with me, and my Mother finished it for me. The skirt was a dirndl skirt and  was blue and white checked in colour."

Jean Barnes, Arden

Martin went to school in Nitshill but does not remember there being any nursery provision. He remembers primary school being part of St Robert’s, in Househillmuir Road, and it was called Muirshiel Primary. It was a very small school, just an annexe; this was before St Bernard’s Primary was built. He then went to the old Bellarmine Secondary, this was beside the old St Robert’s Church on Househillwood Road. The new St Robert’s Church was then built in Peat Road and they were made to attend. The priest wore a different coloured robe every week and their father would quiz them on what colour the robe was to make sure they had been to chapel. Father Burns was one of the priests and if he saw the boys out playing football on a Sunday, he would order them to go to mass in the evening. He would know whether or not they had been to an earlier mass. Father Burns was later made a canon, which was an enormous honour for the parish.

Martin Brady, Cumbernauld

We were in Househillwood for two years and then we went over to Muirshiel for two years, and then we went to Overtown for two years, and then the last couple of weeks was St Bernard’s, because it was only a wee school and it only had a couple of classes. The class that I was in, in Househillwood, was the dining hall; they used to come in and we were out in the playground, and they would put wax cloths, wax, oil cloths, table covers, and that’s where the kids ate their dinner. Well, we would have ate our dinner. The grey van would come with big tins; they would heat them up and they would make the dinners, heat them up in the school."

Margaret Cameron, Barrhead

Alex said there were no nursery schools in the area, if you needed looking after it was your older sibling who did this. He attended St Roberts Primary School. He did not like school, but he knew he had to go there to be educated. At the age of twelve he attended Bellarmine Secondary School, and he left the school at the age of fifteen. He had a lot of friends in both primary and secondary schools, though they have all lost touch over the years.

Alex Dodds, Glasgow

My first school was at age 5; the wee tin school at Househillmuir Road, just at the back of the brickworks, and from there we moved to Muirshiel. That was down in Priesthill, and from there up to Overtown Avenue, which was just across from Gowanbank School. Secondary after that, I went to Bellarmine. There were some great teachers, you know; dedicated teachers, they wanted you to do well."

Eddie Foy, Paisley

Kathleen started school at Gowanbank Primary and continued on to Craigbank Secondary. She only remembers her P.1 teacher, Miss Purden. She laughed as she told how she did not want to go to school and screamed the place down! She does not remember any teachers from secondary school as she did not often attend. She did not like school. There was more laughter as she described how her mother sent her to school, but she ‘bunked off’ and went to the park with some other friends and they stayed there most of the day. They were caught a few times by Mr Ross, a primary school teacher and their neighbour, who told her mum that he had seen her, so Kathleen was ‘kept in’ a couple of times; she was never hit. Kathleen’s family received free school meals at both primary and secondary school, as her dad was self-employed and her mother was not working at the time. She did not like school food or the idea of going, so she used to give someone her ticket and went home at lunchtime, where her mum would give her a sandwich.

Well, I was only five minutes from the school, and I used to cut through Mrs McGuire’s and jump over the fence!"

Kathleen Larkins, Glasgow

Colin remembers that the pupils at his school had to move between different annexes for lessons. They could have one lesson in Nitshill and then have to walk down to Househillwood for the next lesson. He remembers that the headmaster at Craigbank was Mr Buchanan, and he also remembers the names of most of the teachers and what subjects they taught. Colin liked Maths and English. One of the English teachers, Mr Hudson, had been a prisoner of war in Burma, and they would persuade him to talk about the war. There was a lot of sectarian rivalry between Craigbank and St Bernard’s schools. One day, Colin’s class was belted by the headmaster because of the sectarian song they had been singing when they walked past the chapel. St Bernard’s school name was changed to Bellarmine because the school had such a bad name.

Colin McEwan, Glasgow

Old Levern Primary School, Prestwick Street

I went to Levern Primary School, and there was three of us from Darvel Street went there; we all played together because the people from Newfield Square looked down their nose at people from Darvel Street. I remember when I was about six or seven, there was this girl from Newfield Square, Martha Tennant, and my auntie stayed in Newfield Square, and I’d be playing about there and Martha Tennant asked if I could go to her house after school, and my mother said “That’s fine, go to your Auntie Jennie’s when you’re finished and she’ll see you across the road”, to my Granny’s across the main road. So, I duly goes there after school and Mrs Tennant said, “So where is it you live in the square, I said no, no, I live in Darvel Street.”  Oh well, Martha can’t play today, you’ll have to go home. I remember feeling quite scummy.”

Ann said that the people who lived in the Newfield Square tenements, had central heating, and a bowling green and tennis courts, and were teachers and professional people who looked down on the families from Nitshill.

Ann Martin, Marjorie Taylor & Anne Orr, Glasgow

John attended a private secondary school called St Aloysius College for three years due to being a ‘gifted child’. He had to sit an entry examination to be given entry to this college. Whilst there, he had no problems academically, but did not like the strict regime. In his fourth year he attended Holyrood School, although he did not spend much time at school due to ill health. However, he did manage to go the city centre most days, and have lunch with his friends, visit his sister at her work in Boots the Chemist, visit the Apollo and all the record shops. He became very familiar with every part of the city centre.

That was my education, I learned about music, I got into being a roadie with bands. I was hanging about the Apollo, I used to be able to get in and see all the bands for nothing because I knew how to skip in and also, I hung about with posh boys from Bearsden and that kind of thing, and they were more riotous than I was. So, it was almost like a holiday going to school every day in town, but it was hard because, with my father being away at sea a lot of the time, the family was under a lot of pressure. So, I worked in an ice cream van, I delivered newspapers, and my brother’s army wages, and everybody else’s money paid for my fees. I did quite well, I got all my ‘O’ grades.”

John Paul McBride, Glasgow
I went to St. Bernard’s, that was behind Nitshill Road, but I was only there for two days and then got moved to St. Ignatius.  St Ignatius was right in front of Gowanbank.   St. Bernard’s had moved up to St. Ignatius because the school was closing down.  Mr Doyle was my Primary 7 teacher; he was good at giving the belt out.”

Theresa McLaughlin, Glasgow

Alistair remembered attended Levern Primary School and his old school friend called Ian McGrowther who travelled from Old Pollok to the school every day as this was the nearest primary school.  He had two favourite teachers – a Miss McNee and Miss Henderson.  He enjoyed reading at school.  He recalls cases of apples being sent from Canada for all the pupils at the school.   Kennedy’s from Pollokshaws delivered small bottles of milk for the pupils every day.

St. Roberts at the bottom, that was just a wooden building and they hadn’t a dinner hall, so what happened was we were to get our dinner first, the Levern Primary would get dinner first and then we would go out and play and  then St. Robert’s would come up and they would queue up and they would get a second sitting in Levern School in the dining hall, and then there used to be a game of fitba against the Catholics and Protestants and it was really high octane stuff”

Alistair Mutrie, Glasgow

Ann attended Househillwood School until aged 8 and she then moved to Gowanbank School.  She recalled a teacher, Mrs Auld, who threw her duster at the pupils, or if they did something wrong, she would clip them on the back of the head. She sat her ‘Eleven Plus’ in the final year at primary school. Her high school was Sir John Stirling Maxwell’s at Pollokshaws. There was no high school in the Nitshill area at that time. Ann enjoyed her time at primary school and high school. She was made class captain at high school. She left school at age 15 and attended night school to learn typing.

Ann Sword, Glasgow

Class 4G1 Levern Primary.

Submitted by Susan Rasdale

Mr Ross, he was just a natural teacher. He was a bachelor, and at the time when, you know, you’re eleven, and thought he was quite old because he was going bald, you know, he must’ve only been a man in his thirties, when you think about it, looking back… He did wear a bow tie, very dapper, very upright. He was a wonderful teacher, absolutely terrific, made everything so much fun for the kids and he used to take us out at the weekend; he used to take a wee group, I remember once going to Gleniffer Braes. Now, he took us on the bus from Nitshill on his own, a group of maybe about ten kids. I mean he had a big heart… He loved the Barras. He would go to the Barras at the weekend and he would buy single records, you know, the discs, and they were out of a juke box, so they didn’t have the middle bit to fit a record player, but you could buy clip in’s; this is like the dark ages… He would sell them to you for, like a penny or something, or he would do competitions, mainly around word games, as part of the class. He made things fun and you got something as a prize. It was amazing."

Susan Rasdale, Kilsyth

Many of our respondents remember corporal punishment being used in their schools. Sylvia and John both remembered the belt. Sometimes the teacher would keep the belt in their drawer, and sometimes it would be placed on the desk as a warning to pupils.

Sylvia & John Williamson, Glasgow

Craigbank Secondary School, class photo, c.1960.

Submitted by Susan Rasdale

Margaret had to go to Gowanbank Primary in Househillwood; she then went to Levern Primary before the new school was built in South Nitshill, and attended from the age of 7 to 8. Children from South Nitshill were sent to various different schools, even as far away as Carnwadric. There were lots of children in the area, as the housing was all new and lots of families moved there. There were as many as 40 children in each class. A chapel was built in South Nitshill and also two schools, one of which was across the road from the chapel, but the Catholic children had to go to the smaller school in Nitshill, and the non-denominational children went to the one at the chapel. Her school is now gone, and children have to go to either Darnley or Cleeves Road, which Margaret feels is not very convenient. After primary  school, Margaret attended Craigbank Secondary School. She travelled there by bus as she got a bus pass, but she usually walked home as it was a social time. Miss Oliphant was her registration and geography teacher. Margaret remembers most of her teachers at secondary school and Miss Oliphant was her favourite, as she was good at geography. Her least favourite teacher was the P.E. teacher, but she cannot remember her name. Margaret was good at the high jump but was excluded from this as she had forgotten her kit one day, and she never did it again.

Margaret Steele, Glasgow

Bert talks about attending St Robert’s Primary School, at the top of Househillmuir Road, which only had four classrooms. He then went on to St Bernard’s before moving to Bellarmine Secondary school annexe, which he describes as being like “ a western town with walkways”. All of the schools he attended have since been demolished.

Albert Wallace (Bert), Glasgow

“I’m on the right, sitting on a bench in front of teacher. My friend Jessica (now living in Toronto), we’re still friends, is the tiny girl at the other end of the bench. It was 1946. The photo was taken in the old No.4 room in St. Bernard's Primary School on Nitshill Road, across from what was then Doyle's newsagents. It later burned down.”   Below: Marie Ashforth Hackett is wearing a checkered dress.

Source: Marie Ashforth Hackett