CHAPTER 6

 

Education

 

DURING THE LAST three decades of the nineteenth century, the population of Peebles had doubled (from 2,631 in 1871, to 5,266 in 1901) and no fewer than five schools were needed to fulfil the requirements ofrecent legislation. By 1901 children between the ages of five and fourteen were obliged to attend school and fees were no longer compulsory at the several establishments under the aegis of the Board - i.e. Committee - elected by the ratepayers of the parish. The wise members of this Board had already anticipated accommodation needs by enlarging the old Burgh School at the foot of the familiar Brae leading to Tweed Green and building another one which has since been known as Kingsland on the northern periphery of the town - at a cost of £12,000 which was borrowed and repaid in forty years! Furthermore they took over Bonnington Academy as primarily a High School, enlarged Halyrude to take mostly infants and older girls, but closed the little Grammar School on the east corner of the Brae. Unassisted by grants, St Joseph's continued independently for local Catholic children.

Then, on 26 November 1901, Mr Todd, headmaster of the 'First English School', led his charges on the long walk to the new Kingsland where, 'They were housed in excellent premises and teachers/pupils work under the most favourable conditions', according to HM Inspector's report of 1902. Work was often interrupted when illness, or even epidemics, struck; mumps and measles, chickenpox and whooping cough, scarlet fever and diphtheria took their toll at times to the tune of 200 pupils absent out of less than 400, whilst several seem to have been afflicted by nits, lice or other vermin! Holidays, too, were frequent both for national and local events: fair days in March and October as well as 'Beltane Friday' when the 'Queen' was crowned and the Riding of the Marches took

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