Townhead / Stonehouse Primary

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Whilst Stonehouse Primary School  currently occupies the footprint of the old Townhead Primary school, a school has been located on or near the exisitng footprint since the late 1700’s.  According to Robert Naismith’s book on Stonehouse the first purpose built school in Stonehouse opened in 1781 in King Street.  This was followed by a new parish school, built in 1853, which was located ‘a short distance from old one’, (in Townhead Street?).

It was enlarged in 1870 and ‘enclosed with a neat wall’.   A new house for the headmaster was also built near the Free Manse (in Hill Road?) called Sauchrie Cottage. (Naismith (1895) pp82-85).

The Free Church School in Hill Road (1851 – 1881) was leased to the Stonehouse School Board for one year in 1881, under the name of Hill Academy, while Townhead Street School was under construction.

On 9th January 1882 Townhead Public School was opened by the School Board.

The Toonheid’ as this school was generally known in early days was built in 1881 at a cost, including site, of upwards of £2,000.  Its location was where the present school is, at the corner of Townhead Street and Sidehead Road. The first Headmaster, Mr Alexander McIntosh had been teaching in Stonehouse for nine years before the school was built.  He came to the village in 1872 as teacher in the Subscription School and two years later he was appointed to the Free Church School in Hill Road where he remained until, under the School Board of Stonehouse, he then moved to the Parish School in Townhead Street now as Townhead Public School.

The group have a number of documents that relate to the school in relation to

a) The Education Department

b) Teacher References

c) Pupil Exemption Certificates

These are in process of being scanned and categorised into the above  headings and will be added as time permits.

A) Education Department 

Over the years a number of education department circulars and reports were produced which instructed schools on what had to be taught as well as measuring how well the school was doing. The following links are a series of reports and circulars produced since around 1899.

Education Reports and Circulars

B) Teacher References

A number of the early teacher references were salvaged and these are attached for reference.

C) Certificate of Exemptions (for attending evening classes)

Whilst working and supporting the family was important in these days, education was also recognised as being important and a number of pupils who signed up to carry out evening classes were exempt from attending day school.

These are a copy of the original certificates that were saved and digitised.

Hamilton Advertiser Articles 

A series of articles written by the late Jean Leishman who was a former pupil and teacher at Townhead Primary were published in the Hamilton Advertiser and the following is a partial extract from the Hamilton Advertiser which provides details of the school opening.

“It was on 9th January, 1882 that the ‘commodious, neat and comfortable’ new Townhead Public School was opened by the School Board.  General Lockhart and his Lady, accompanied by Miss Dunn (sister of the parish minister) drove up to the gate, receiving a hearty cheer from the scholars, then came the gentlemen of the school board and waiting to meet them were Messrs. Smith (Architect), T & J Hamilton (joiners), Park (builder), Brown (painter), and Riddle (plumber). There were 186 scholars present and all were seated in the largest room.  A hymn was sung.

Rev. Mr. Dunn opened the proceedings with a prayer and read a chapter from the Book of Proverbs.  General Lockhart addressed the assembly and declared the school open.  The Revs. Messrs Dunn and Paterson followed with brief addresses chiefly as exhortations to the scholars.  The General announced a holiday for the remainder of the day and all dispersed. The scholars were very tidy and neat, and behaved ‘remarkably well’.  The staff consisted of three teachers working with the headmaster and in addition to the three “R’s”, Latin, French, Needlework, Singing, Geography and History were taught with pupils’ ages ranging from 4 to 14 years”.

Another article tells us that  an interesting visit was paid to the school in October 1883 when a former P.T. (pupil teacher) having graduated at Glasgow University accompanied by a friend from Palestine – ‘Sheik Selim Hishmek, guide of Stanley first discoverer of Livingstone’ –heard the pupils sing three songs in their honour.


The group also possess two headmasters diaries which arrived in a sorry state. The group organised  and paid for  these to  re-coved and bound. The diaries were transcribed and are searchable  in the Members Section of the website. These give a daily account of the school events and social happenings in the school . Whilst the diaries record the attendance of pupils and teachers as well as the expenses of the school some interesting accounts can be found.  One such account recorded in the diary  was that a half day holiday was given to the pupils on 1st April, 1887 being the funeral of Rev. James Dunn, chairman of the school board and minister of the parish. The same Mr Dunn that opened the proceeding s on the school opening.  Another account advises that on May 18th, 1888 a similar holiday was given on the occasion of the laying of the Foundation Stone of the Public Hall.

We know that the school was refurbished again as another account advises that after the miner’s strike was over,  work resumed on the new part of Townhead School and on 2nd September, 1912 the reconstructed school was opened by a group of dignitaries. A gold key was presented to Mr. Naismith by the Architects, Measurers and Contractors.

A reading book that is mentioned in the infant classes being used to teach children is Infant Reader. The group have recently purchased an original copy of this book,  and a scanned copy can be opened using  the following hyper-link.

Infant Reader.

School Admission records

School Admission records are held by the group and cover the years 1881 to around 1950’s. The 1881 to 1906 records have been transcribed to excel and have been uploaded to the Members Section of  the website. It is anticipated that when the group has sufficent funds it will upload more of the admission records. You can contact the group to establish if we have any records of you ancestors at Townhead Primary from 1881. Email
These records are a great resource for anyone researching family history and  give details of previous schools attended , or if moved from the area inidcating where they moved to.

The Borland Medal/Dux.

On the 6th June, 1924 the Headmaster of Townhead Primary School, Mr. A. McIntosh, wrote in his diary “I have received word from the Authority that a Gold Medal (from money left by the late Dr. Borland, Yarrow) is to be awarded to the Dux Scholar” i.e. the best scholar in the Senior year. The first medal was awarded to Robert Mitchell in 1924. This practice continued each year until 1936 when the rising price of gold made this practice difficult to continue so a watch or other prize was awarded instead until 1939 when a gold medal was again awarded during the war years until 1944. In 1946 it again became difficult to obtain a gold medal so War Savings Certificates were awarded in 1945/6. A prize was awarded each year until 1950 after which the practice ceased (or at least went unrecorded). It was revived in 1960, until 1967 then again discontinued between 1968 and 1980. The Borland Medal prize was revived again in 1981, until 1984 then again no record between 1985 and 1992. The practice was revived again by Mrs. McKenzie, the Head teacher, in 1993 as the Borland Prize for Endeav­our. This continued until 1996 and then nothing further is known.

The following is a list of medal winners kindly supplied by John Young.

Townhead school -Borland Medal Awards


The school was upgraded in 2011-2012 when South Lanarkshire council as part of their schools replacement plans awarded a contract to Lend lease. The old school was demolished with a new school building being retained on the exisitng  site.  The  following document provides the specification and drawings of the new school.


During the refurbishment the old well was also uncovered and capped. The main entrance to the old school was retained and is incorporated into the new build.

The current school has a website whose web address is

The following gallery give an indication of the refurbishment work carried out in 2011-2012