What are your memories of Dunfermline High School?
MORE than 1000 former pupils from around the globe poured into Dunfermline High School on Sunday for one last look before their alma mater is demolished next year.
The current building, dating from 1939, will make way for a new £40million school in 2012 and ex-pupils came from as far away as Australia and Spain, as well as from Inverness and Durham, to say farewell.
Visitors included those who marched behind the piper from the previous school in Priory Lane in June 1939 to the current buildings, with one remembering the iron fencing on the wall at St Leonard's Place, cut down shortly after for the war effort, and many remembering the VE Day celebrations in June 1945.
The previous use of several rooms was also divulged, including, "The Projection Room for the Film Club" and one "where you got your jags"!
Richard Brown (82), North Larches, Dunfermline, a pupil from 1941-46, recalled the dances and assemblies in the hall.
He said, "We assembled every day and the rector, Mr (J G) Lindsay, would read out the names of military personnel who had been made prisoners of war or killed.
"One of them, Francis Banner, from Rosyth, was ahead of me by about four years and was in the Air Force. His name's on the school war memorial.
"Up to 1945 we had very young or very old teachers because of the war and I remember carrying a gas mask to school from 1940-43, in an old cardboard box."
He chuckled, "We used to tell girls there was a crashed Wellington bomber out back - that was the day's version of 'Would you like to see my etchings?' Some girls went but it never worked for me!"
Jess Cumming (83), who attended from 1940-1946, recalled the impressive brand-new school and being taught by retired teachers who returned to teach in wartime.
Her mentor was Miss Anna Cruickshank, a former lady supervisor - whose legacy continues today.
Jess, of Overhaven, Limekilns, said, "She was an English teacher and very well-respected - she was an inspiration.
"She left money to the school and to this day there's an award in her name and library books with her name stamped on them.
"The plans for expansion are great. It's a shame the old places are going but you have to move with the times and I hope the pupils who come in will be as lucky as I was."
For John Cummins (65), from Suffolk, and brother Rob (63), from Freuchie, certain school smells were still fresh in their minds.
Studying the labs, John, a pupil from 1959-64, recalled, "The corridors had a very strong smell of formaldehyde!
"The labs certainly look more interesting now. There used to be benches and high stools.
"There used to be a little shop at the other side of the road that sold sweets and cigarettes. The lads used to go behind the tuck shop for a smoke.
Occasionally there'd be a raid by teachers and prefects. The buses would go past and people would be looking at all these schoolboys smoking there!"
Rob, a pupil from 1962-66, added, "If it was raining, they'd go in the bike shed, which was dark, dingy and dangerous.
"And when you were sent to get a teacher at the staff room, that was like visiting the bowels of hell - you opened the door and couldn't see anything for the smoke.
"You'd see a blue pall and this dark shape would come to the door. It was like something out of Macbeth!"
Barbara Davidson (69) and husband Jim (67), from Edinburgh, relived the days of segregated classes, big wooden tables with ink wells, blackboard and chalk.
Barbara, who attended from 1954-61, said, "The teachers wore cloaks and gowns and you could hear them swishing along the corridors. They were very strict!
"We had stone floors - no lino or vinyl or carpets. The radiators were the old barrel types. We used to have old-fashioned windows and the boys would jump in and out of class through them!"
For Gladys Meldrum (80), of Gowanbrae Terrace, Dunfermline, the school has a special family connection, as her father helped build it.
She attended from 1942-7 and remembered, "If I was sent for something, if I met the rector coming towards me I'd turn the other way! I had no reason to be terrified, it was more respect."
June Weir (80), left in 1946 and remembers a particular class in 1945.
June, of Gellet Cottage, Broomhall, said, "It was history and the teacher came in and said, 'The Allies have landed in Normandy.'
"I had three brothers away and I couldn't concentrate the rest of the class because I kept thinking about the news."
Chris Sparling (67), of Scotland Drive, Dunfermline, taught at the school from 1973-94.
The former principal teacher of chemistry said, "I remember the building of the junior block and the science labs and the open-plan classes in a space the size of the school hall!
"There used to be a wee pond for goldfish which the biology class used. I'm going back to my lab and hoping some posters I put up are still there!"
Garry Watts-Tucker (31), from Helensburgh, a pupil from 1992-98, joked that "walking in was like going into an exam again".
He said, "I didn't always enjoy coming in here first thing in the morning but I will miss it.
"The new plans look quite impressive but it's going to be sad driving past and seeing a big empty space rather than the building."
Former head girl Lynne Connolly (38), Garvock Terrace, attended from 1985-91.
She said, "I went back to the common room - that's where we used to skive off classes - and the geography room where we had classes with the late Mr Dave Thompson. He inspired a lot of us.
"I've visited the places that inspired me, like the English class, library and labs."
Three generations of her family have attended the school and Lynne felt "sad that it's going".
But she added, "My children will be going to Dunfermline High and I like that they'll have a purpose-built school."
Rector Brian Blanchflower thanked staff and prefects for making it a day to remember for former pupils.
He said, "Although tiring for everyone, this was a very enjoyable day with exceptionally positive feedback from the visitors."
What are your memories of Dunfermline High School? Good, bad, amusing or sad, post a comment here and share your story.
Have your say. Post a comment on this article.
Oct 10, 08:59
I was sorry to miss out at this reunion it brings back memories of the great teachers we had muir martin donald mclean carmichel I would be happy to hear from my old classmatesmy e.mail is firstname.lastname@example.org Tom SPOWART
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Oct 12, 00:30
My name is Douglas Hutchison and I now reside in Jamaica. I lived in Pittencrieff Street and my near neighbours Ian Morrison, Terry Fairbairn and I used to cycle twice daily to and from Dunfermline High School via the Coal Road from 1950-1955. I remember my first day at school as I had an abscess on the back of my neck and Ian Harper from Kincardine accidentally grabbed my sore neck, which was most painful, while we were skylarking in the playground. I also remember Reverend Dollar, the minister from the Abbey, used to give sermons in the assembly hall before Christmas and Easter and invariably began by saying "Holidays are Holy Days". The French teacher Mr. Scrimgeour taught us to pronounce the word "Monsieur" by saying it was the same as if I throw this duster at you I will not MISS YOU. A maths teacher whose name I cannot remember started a golf section and arranged for the Aberdour professional Willie Ogg to give boys golf lessons at the school playing fields on Queensferry Road, and we learned the proper address position and Vardon grip. The two best boy golfers at the school at that time were Jim Barnett and John Risk. In the mid fifties Dunfermline High contested unsuccessfully against Gordonstoun Academy on the popular radio programme Top of the Form and I remember one of our girls on the team surprising nearly all in the assembly hall when she correctly answered a question with the word LIMN and not LIMB.
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Oct 18, 11:11
Oct 23, 18:19
I was at the High School from 1961 to 1966 and realise, retrospectively, what a good education they gave me, despite my best efforts! I was no model pupil, always being reminded by teachers that I didn't live up to my sisters' exceptional academic records. I skived off the subjects I didn't like and by the time I left, pupils were sitting on the counter IN the Tuck Shop and smoking! However, I did work hard at the subjects I liked and came away with reasonable qualifications, including Highers.
I was very sorry to miss the opportunity of treading the Hallowed Halls one more time. My daughter went - wish she had told me but I can still go back in my mind and remember very clearly, even though it's so long ago.
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Jan 10, 14:06
My name is Donald Fraser Dewar, born in St Monans, Fife. While living in Tayport, where my father was a Policeman, I attended Bell-Baxter HS, Cupar, for one year. On my father's posting to Valleyfield, I passed over to Dunfermline High School in October, 1944, and was a pupil there until 1949. Lonely at first, I soon settled down, mostly by dint of having some skill with the Tackety Bit Brigade on the playground tarmac with a tennis ball.
My memories of DHS are manifoldly marvellous, involving pupils of various years in a pleasant social mix : Jimmy Greenwood, Harry Wright, Tom Birrell, Bill Irvine, Bill Ross, Richard Brown, Rachel Hodge, Betty Harper, Nessie Berwick, Ellen Mackintosh, Edma Hutton and nmany, many more good friends. Staff: Mostly returning from the war - Bill Martin, Lancaster Pilot , whom I got to know well later ,whenI played for Dunfermline RFC under his captaincy.Doc Waterson (Maths), Hill Walker - mention any Scottish peak and the rest was glorious "free" period. Jimmy Gemmell (Physics) - punishment - the "good left foot that's scored many a goal" in your backside. Gillie Gillespie (Lochgelly Thunderer - dummy, ineffectual but very noisy! Tommy Spowart(Latin) - pinned erring pupil back to back wall by the ears ; badge of disgrace - School tie tied round back of neck. Jimmy/Hoagy Carmichael (English) - coined the phrase "Harpic Dewar - clean round the bend!"- magical, adorable Director of School Plays - taught me, effectually, how to Dropkick.Pop Bain (English)- suddenly materialised in uniform before demob. Gave me cough lozenge while reading aloud (it was the wont) from "David Copperfield" while voice "breaking". Jock Robin (French) - natural burr in his English - ideal for French ! Rector "Lugs" Lindsay , lovely man, afficionado of the "handling game" - socccer - rubbish ! I was Head Boy in 1948-49 with Rachel Hodge Head Girl when he passed the aegis to Mr Gordon - lovely, sympathetic man, too. I could go on and on ...one offs all.
Would be delighted to hear from any "old pals"! "Juniper Lea", 1A Grove Street, Balderton, Newark, Notts, NG24 3AR. Tel. 01636.678053. Hasta la vista! Ducky.
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Feb 21, 12:25
I have just read this article. My name is David Reid, and I was at The High from 1950 to 1955.
Two memories I wish to share.
I remember Tom Spowart, Latin teacher, who called his belt "Aesculapius - doctor of all ills." He taught in room 44 and said Caesar died aged 44, died of 44 stab wounds, and died on the 44th step of the Senate.
I also remember Mr Cunningham (the NEB), a new Maths teacher, and I had the dubious distinction of being the first pupil to be belted by him. Why I remember this was before belting me he stuck a drawing pin into a desk top, then taking his belt he hit the drawing pin driving it into the desk.
Comments are rather late but I hope the add some humour to Dunfermline High School memories.
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Mar 1, 02:14
I wish I had known about this event - I would have made every effort to get there.
I was at the school from approx 1973 - 1977.
My main memories are of the music department. Mr Greenaway has to have been the best teacher ever - and Mr Bottone was cool as the brass teacher. I still have photos from the shows we put on - The Pirates of Penzance and The Grand Duchess.
I can't remember any of my other teachers - but music has always been my first love!! :-)
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Apr 8, 16:04
My name is Morag Fletcher (nee Noble) and I was a pupil at Dunfermline High School from 1946 to 1951 when as a family we emmigrated to USA.
One of my memories is of the polio outbreak when the Head Boy died and onetof the girls in my class, Sheena Gemmell, also died. As theer was no preventative or treatment it was a very scary time.
My Latin Teacher was Mr Dewar who appeared very strict and serious in his black robe. He surprised us all on St. Valentine's Day by writing on the blackboard at the start of the lesson 'Nihil est dulce quam cupido' (nothing is sweeter than love).
An excitin memory was the Gala Day when all the schools marched through the town to the Glen for a day of fun. Does this still happen??? Happy, happy days!
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Apr 20, 22:30
when i went to the high school mr millar was rector,got the belt from him which was very sore!but not in the same class as my p.e. teacher mr foster,that was sore.Other teachers who told me to get my hands out were bob adams(english),paddy(asst rector),mr buttoni(music)mr baxter(economics)and mr love(french).Fond memories of a good scots education.
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May 3, 18:45
I was a pupil at DHS from 1946-51 and was in the Commercial Class doing shorthand, typing and book-keeping. The education I received then enabled me to find work both in Scotland and Canada and later enabled me to assist my husband in establishing his own successful business where we worked together for over 40 years before retiring in 2005.
We were very fortunate at that time to have students from the Dunfermline College of Physical Education to give us a first class training in hockey, tennis and PE. I was in the first eleven for hockey and the first tennis six.
It was a privilege to have been a pupil at such a fantastic High School.
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Nov 10, 20:12
Dunfermline High School, the school that if your child is sick will ring a few rings on your phone and then send your child back to class in pain, the school that is paying guidance teachers money to tell parents who have children being bullied to the point of suicidal thoughts "well kids will be kids" - the school who I have tried to get face to face meetings with but shrugs me off - no respect for this school and no respect for anyone in it that is letting my child suffer the way she is. The law is I have to send her to school, the law is I can't get on the bus and take out the bullies on the bus, the law is I can't storm into the school demanding they protect my child when she isn't in my hands but theirs - how hard do you think it is for a parent to send their child to a school that gives the excuse "oh but we have so many pupils and we are so so busy we can't care about your child one to one" - oh and yes that was the excuse. This school has got caught in a warp of the teachers and staff thinking more that it is about them and their jobs and forgetting what being a teacher and caring is about.
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Jan 26, 00:56
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Apr 20, 13:19
We are organising a Dunfermline High School reunion on the 29th June 2014 for any staff and students who attended between 1970-74 more details can be found on the friendsreunited website and facebook.
Fiona Murray (Kingston) Morag Brandt (Orr) Brian Blanchflower and KeithMc Farlane
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