Postcard by PA Buchanan & Co

 St Hilda's School

Liberton, Edinburgh

St Hilda's School, Dining Room, Junior House

Postcard by PA Buchanan & Co  -  St Hilda's School, Liberton  -  Dining Room, Junior House

©  For permission to reproduce, please contact


 St Hilda's School

This postcard is by Buchanan & Co, Croydon, England, a company that produced many postcards of schools, including several in Edinburgh.

It has not been sent through the post.

Here is another postcard of the same school by PA Buchanan:

Postcard by PA Buchanan & Co  -  St Hilda's School, Liberton  -  Dormitory, Junior House ©



Do you know which building housed St Hilda's School?

 "Was it the big house at the top of Kirkbrae, near the Libby Inn?"

 I have been asked this question by Jane Walmsley, née Flynn, who lived on the top floor of the 'big house' for about a year as a baby from 1951.

If you know the answer, please e-mail me.  Thank you.


Answer 1


Peter Stubbs

I've not yet found the answer to the question above, but here are a couple of extracts from the Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directories:

Post Office Directory




Beautifully situated in its own Grounds.  Thorough education.

Senior pupils may specialise in any subject.

Preparation for Public Examinations.

All Games, Swimming, Riding.

Only Boarders taken.  Prospectus from Principals.


Post Office Directory


The school's entry in the Edinburgh & Leith Post Office Directory, 1940-41, following the outbreak of World War II, had similar wording to 1930-31, except the address of the school was given as:

"Temporarily at Ballikenrain Castle, Balfron, Stirlingshire."

The correct spelling of the castle is in fact Ballykinrain

 Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  October 15, 2007


Answer 2


Jane Walmsley, née Flynn

Jane Walmsley, née Flynn,  wrote:

Arrival in Edinburgh

"My parents moved from Oxford to Edinburgh at Easter 1951, with myself + twin sister, aged approx 3 months. My Dad had rented a top floor flat in the big house at the top of Kirkbrae.  My Mum wasn't very pleased!

The house was on the left, as you go out of town.  It was almost the last house before the cross roads, with Kirkgate and Mount Vernon Rd, not far from the Libby Inn.  It's still there.

We came up to Edinburgh on the train.  Mum, Granny + twins went from Waverly to St Hilda's in a taxi, and Dad had to push the twin pram all the way!!.

Jane Walmsley, Edinburgh:  October 15, 2007


Answer 3


John Hadden

Thank you to John Hadden, Edinburgh, who wrote confirming that 'the big house at the top of Kirkbrae, near the Libby Inn' was indeed St Hilda's School.


"St Hilda's is something I'd looked into in the past, as I had a great aunt who was matron there.  Your web site came to the rescue.  You'll find it named, just north of the crossroads at the centre of Liberton if you click on this 1925 map

I believe  the building is the one located here on Google Maps.  This Ballikinrain web page has some information that explains the link to Ballikinrain  Castle: "

John Hadden, Edinburgh:  October 14, 2007


Answer 4


Jane Walmsley, née Flynn

Jane Walmsley, née Flynn, added:

Location Confirmed

"Yep.  Definitely -  no doubt about it!  The house that we lived in was St Hilda's School.

The building to the south is still a nursery school.  I wonder if it was connected to St Hilda's School  - probably, but I'm not going down that path.

Jane Walmsley, Edinburgh:  October 15, 2007


Answer 5


Peter Schwarz

Thank you to Peter Schwarz, Edinburgh, who now lives in one of the flats in the house that used to be St Hilda's School.

Peter has been researching the history of the house.

Peter writes:

History of the School

"St Hilda's was a School from 1901.  It  was evacuated to Ballykinrain in 1939.

 The old school at Liberton was converted into 10 flats in 1945. My late wife and I bought one in 1958.  We later changed to a downstairs one.

We did quite a lot of research on it .

Postcard by PA Buchanan & Co  -  St Hilda's School, Liberton  -  Dormitory, Junior House ©    Postcard by PA Buchanan & Co  -  St Hilda's School, Liberton  -  Dining Room, Junior House ©

These 2 photographs are actually not of the St Hilda's House but of the Junior House, Springwood Park, which has now also been converted into flats."

Earlier History of the House

"The house was built around 1850, though a map shows that there was something there before.

Pre 1900, the house used to be called Kirkbrae or Kirkbrae House.  it was named St Hilda's by the first Head.  It was briefly called Columbia Lodge by the 'Superintendent of Imbeciles' from Falkirk (or Larbert?) who seemed to have run an institution in it.

There is evidence that the main house used to be 2-storey but I can't find when the mansard top was put on.  The 4-storey rear bit was built by the school in 1901."

Peter Schwarz, Liberton, Edinburgh:  October 15, 2007


Answer 6


Jane Walmsley, née Flynn

Thank you to Jane Walmsley, née Flynn for sending further details about the school.

Jane wrote

"Malcolm Cant's book 'South Edinburgh' ISBN 978-0-9552487-0-2, has umpteen photos of St Hilda's school.   There were four school  houses - Greeks, Spartans, Romans and Trojans.

Jane Walmsley, Edinburgh:  October 15, 2007






Thank you to SS, whose mother was a former pupil at St Hilda's school for sending her recollections of the school, and writing:


"Miss Cooper, the Headmistress, was generally regarded with great respect and affection."

Lutton Place

"The' C of E' girls worshipped at St Peters, Lutton Place."

Motor-car Maintenance

"In 6th Form, in 1929-30, Mother chose 'Motor-car Maintenance' as an optional extra.  A mechanic brought a car to the school each week, explained how it worked and showed them how to do basic repairs; a far sighted activity which I've never heard offered to girls at any other school."

School Photos

"Mother used to have photos of the school and of her friends, generally in school uniform (cloche hats, pleated gym tunics and black stockings) playing games or just larking about."


"1.  Does anybody have any photos of the school uniform?

2.  Is there an 'Old Girls' Association' for the school?"

SS, Edinburgh:  February 7, 2013


If you can help to  answer to either of the questions above, please email me.

               Thank you.

Peter Stubbs, Edinburgh:  February 8, 2012




Roger W H West

Thank you to Roger West who wrote:

Columbia Lodge

"I've just found Jane Walmsley’s comments above, about St Hilda’s School in Liberton.

My great-grandmother visited the building which was then called Columbia Lodge, on her tour of Scotland in 1871, when she visited her friend Jesse MacFarlane who was dying of tuberculosis.

Jesse was a famous preacher who had travelled all over Scotland.  She was the wife of Dr David Brodie who was the superintendent of Columbia Lodge and looked after the 'imbeciles' there.

My great grandmother who lived in Kent kept a diary of her tour of Scotland which she undertook with her parents.  It only lasted for two weeks.

Roger W H West:  December 12, 2013


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