Drumbeg School, Killearn

A fascinating donation to Stirling Council Archives is our ‘Document of Month’ for July. It concerns a small private school just outside Killearn. This school was called Drumbeg School and was active between 1914 and 1939.

The school was owned and operated by sisters Helen and Isobel Wallis-Smith at Drumbeg Cottage. Isobel was a District Nurse and Helen a qualified teacher. It was based at the fringe of the village and catered for girls between the ages of six and thirteen as day or weekly boarding pupils.

The donation primarily consists of a photograph album. The album itself is unique. It contains a photograph of every pupil to have attended the school, plus a varied selection of groups of pupils enjoying outdoor activities.  Pupils can also be seen participating in the annual dramatic and dancing displays providing a wonderful insight into life at the school.

59 pupils attended the school when it first opened. Unusually, one of the 59 was a boy. This was Mungo Stirling, son of Sir George Stirling. Mungo Stirling attended the school from 1923-1924 and would later serve with Black Watch during the Second World War. He died from his wounds in 1941 in Cairo and received the Military Cross for his actions.

Another famous pupil was Elizabeth Henson. Elizabeth attended the school aged 5 in 1935 and would stay until 1937. She became a prominent actress in the early 1950s starring as the lead in the 1950 film ‘The Girl Who Couldn’t Quite’ and the BBC series ‘Clementina’ in 1954.

Pupil Janet Grant, who was at Drumbeg School from 1928-1930, followed in the footsteps of teacher Isobel Wallis-Smith by becoming a Nurse with the Red Cross. She spent time in Malaya, during which she gave a message to the United Kingdom on the BBC’s Christmas Day broadcast ‘Calling the World’ in 1951.

As part of the donation, a report card also exists for the summer of 1929. The report card records the subjects that were being taught at Drumbeg School. The full card of lessons were Scripture, History, Geography, Literature, Grammar, Poetry, Composition, Reading, Dictation, Writing, Arithmetic, French, Latin, Nature, Algebra, Drawing, and Sewing.

The majority of the pupils stayed at the school for no more than two years and detailed information concerning the school remains a mystery. The donation of the Drumbeg School photograph albums, however, provides a rare and unique example of private school life in rural Stirlingshire.