Sunday 24 March 2024

Holmscroft School Greenock

On Monday 5 March 1888 over five hundred children marched into their beautiful new school at the corner of Ann Street and Dempster Street – Holmscroft Public School.  It was built to replace the Sir Michael Street School which had been taken over by the Caledonian Railway Company when they were extending the railway from Greenock to Gourock.

Photo @Watt Institution

The new school was designed by H & D Barclay who were the architects responsible for the Municipal Buildings in Greenock.  Described as being in the Tudor style, the side elevations were divided by buttresses into seven bays, the end bays being blank to give solidity, the others being opened out into large three-lighted mullioned windows.  Three of the bays were finished with gable tops with curved outlines.  The the building was three storeys in height, one of which was a basement on the playground level which was used as a drill hall.  The main entrance was on Ann Street.  The entrance to the boys playground were on Ann Street and Wellington Street and the girls entered from Wellington Street and Dempster Street.  There were twelve classrooms, which could accommodate over one thousand children.  Many of the rooms had sliding partitions and could be made larger or smaller as required.

The cost of the site was £2,670, the buildings including boundary walls and outbuildings cost £9,200 and furniture and fittings cost £400.  The building was considered to be rather flamboyant to many in the town and was described in the local newspaper as “perhaps one of the most beautiful public schools in Scotland and one of the costliest as well”.

The first headteacher was Alexander Bremner.  The choice of headteacher caused a lot of problems for the School Board, just as it had with the choice at Highlanders' Academy (also designed by David Barclay) which had been opened just few months earlier. 

Photo @Greenock Burns Club

The foundation stone of the building had been laid at an official ceremony in February 1887 by Thomas Sutherland MP for Greenock from 1884-1900, who was presented with a mallet by architect David Barclay.  The official party then adjourned to the hall of the nearby South Parish Church for more speeches from the various guests.  Refreshments. "a cake and wine banquet" were provided by J B Morison of the Imperial Restaurant in Greenock.

The School was demolished in 1968.

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