The earliest record of a school in the parish dates to around the beginning of the eighteenth century, From the parochial records we note that on May 13th 1701 a Mr Richard Steil (Steel) was recommended by the presbytery of Hamilton to take the post of school master in Stonehouse.

There being no objections from the church, he took the post. On November 3rd 1702 the church session met to discuss; “That there should be three schools in the parish, one in Kittiemuir, the teacher of which is to have forty merks of the sellary allowed him; another at Tweedyside, the teacher of which is to have twenty merks of the sellary; and the principal school to continue in the town of Stonehouse, as before”. Richard Steil is said to have “quit” the school at this meeting to make way for William Walker of Stonehouse as schoolmaster. Where this school stood is uncertain but the earliest clue to its siting is again from the parochial records which in May 1708 state; “The school was being held in the kirk till a fit place could be had. The committee appear to have latterly got a schoolhouse from Thomas Cure”. In 1716 the schoolhouse is said to have been in a state of “ill condition” and needed to be thatched. William Walker resigned as schoolmaster in this year to be replaced by Walter Weir.

In 1780 there existed a school very near to where the present Townhead Street School is situated. From Statistical Accounts we are told that the school masters’ house was at 44 King Street with the school a little further up the street. The school and school masters’ house are said to have cost £40 to build, paid by the parish. The school house is said to have been low roofed, ill ventilated, and earth paved but reasonably well attended. The working conditions, however, did nothing to improve the health of the children. This may have been the first school built in the village, as it appears prior to this educational establishments were merely rented. Records further state, besides the parochial school, there were others at the head and sometimes the foot of the parish. These were probably temporary dwellings rented due to a lack of permanent premises.

In 1790 the parochial school master was paid the sum of 3 pence per quarter by 47 contributors, though this money apparently was often difficult to collect. According to the minister at the time children often left school at the age of nine or ten to start work. The fact that schools were run predominantly by the churches for their congregations, may in part be responsible for the large attendances and influence the church had within the community. However the Education Act of 1861 greatly reduced their power. This Act established an Inspectorate, where schools were visited by inspectors who encouraged improvements in teaching, school management and record keeping. In 1876 William Borland was Chairman of the Local School Board.

In 1803 an Education Act was established to improve the quality of education by enlisting the services of more qualified teachers and offering better conditions of service. The Act stated that each school master should be provided with a house and garden. This may account for the next parish school in Stonehouse to be built in Boghall Street, about 1808, with a room and kitchen house above for the school master. Originally a single storey building, Camnethan Street School had a second storey added in 1898. One of the first headmasters to teach there was ‘Dominie’ Robert S. Wotherspoon (also session clerk) who died in 1891. Some may still remember Mr Alexander Anderson who succeeded Mr Wotherspoon and retired in 1924.

In 1836 there were five schools in the parish attended by some 300 scholars. Two of these schools were subscription schools. A new parish school was erected a short distance from the original school in Townhead Street in the year 1853, later enlarged in 1870, 1881 and 1912. A house was also built for the teacher near the Free Manse called Sauchrie Cottage.

Subscription School

An annual general meeting notice posted in a local newspaper in 1868 informs us that the subscription school was founded in 1808. Not a lot of information is held on the school however the group has a copy of the subscription society minutes from 1860 which provide an insight into the running of the society and the costs for the school. These can be viewed in the members area of the website.

Greenside Infant School
The school board of Stonehouse acquired Greenside School formerly a subscription school, built in 1853, and then converted it into an infant school. In 1895 children who were five year old, were taught at Greenside School which consisted of two rooms. Both teachers were women, and thus, it became known as the ‘lady school’. The children were taught reading, writing and arithmetic until they reached the age of transferring to either Camnethan Street or Townhead Street where they were taught other subjects such as geography and history. Greenside later became a school for woodwork and domestic sciences.

Free Church School

The Free church School in Hill Road was opened in the year 1851 and was run by the congregation until 1880, when it was disposed of under the Free Church of Scotland School Properties Act, 1878, and became private property. The school board rented Hill Road School from the proprietor for one year intending to build a new school but their lease expired and they rented the E.U. Church until the new school was erected at Townhead Street in 1881. Unfortunately Hill Road School was destroyed by fire in November 1936.

Cam’neathan Street School