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Recollections of the 1960s
'Wardie School Anniversary Booklet
Recollections of the 1960s:
New teaching methods came into use, with children being taught
in small groups and being encouraged to write in their 'Busy Books'
without having every mistake corrected.
There was a TV Educational Excursion by train from Granton Road
Station to St Andrews in 1961.
Fourteen pupils went on a cruise on 'Devonia' to Bergen and
Amsterdam in 1966, and 20 pupils sailed from Leith on a 10-day
cruise to Norway and Denmark in 1969.
[Anniversary Booklet -
Wardie School 1931-1981]
Thank you to Paul Johnson, Edinburgh, for sending me these recollections from time at
Wardie School in the 1960s:
Big TV in a
"In September 1964, the whole
school sat cross-legged and numb-bummed on the wooden floor of the gym
hall to watch 'Her Maj' cut the ribbon for the Forth Road Bridge.
The black and white TV was in a
huge wooden box with doors, and stood on tubular steel legs about 20 feet
high - or at least, they looked 20 feet tall when I was five! The
doors on the TV were supposed to block glare - but nae luck if you
happened to be sitting slightly off-centre.
Three years later we all trooped
back in again to watch 'Her Maj' launch the eponymous QEII. Of
course, now we all appreciate how dreadful it is to waste champagne.
I don't recall a screening for
the moon landing in 1969, perhaps because the timings were wrong.
And of course, now the conspiracy theorists cast doubts on whether they
really went - but, hey, that's a whole other subject!"
"Back in my Wardie days (1964-70)
it was, technically, a fee-paying school - the princely sum of £4 a term!
- Not quite in the same league as Heriots or Watsons, or the Royal
This actually might well have
been pretty 'princely', because I know my parents used to get 'helped out'
by my Gran when it came time for it to be paid.
Don't forget, Wardie had an
entrance exam at one time. Going by the standard of some of us who
got in, probably little more than: 'Can he tie his laces and go to the
toilet on his own?' !"
was the twice yearly trip to 'Leith Provi', down at Junction Street,
Leith, to buy the school uniform - because my Mum would get the 'divi
stamps' which would help pay for holidays.
Grey shorts, grey shirt and grey
V-neck jumper with the school colours round the collar. And for P1,
a dark blue Burberry coat with a belt round the waist - and a cap.
And later, Clarks Pathfinder
shoes with animal tracks on the soles and a compass in the heel!"
"Most playtimes the boys in my
class would nip into the field for a game of footie with jerseys for
goalposts; we were keen, but really, really bad and the only half-decent
player we had was Colin (Coco) Barr.
As we weren't in Mr Wallace's
class (and I can't recall any other teacher being as interested in
football) I think we only got on to the proper pitches in a
school-organised game perhaps four or five times in my whole time at
The ground used was the one that
ran along the length of the classrooms to the east side of the school -
more suited to downhill skiing, with a steeper slope than Hibs pitch at
We were all tiny, yet they had us
running about on this full-size adult pitch, and as I played in goal I saw
the ball perhaps twice in every game.
In fact, because it took 20
minutes for the ball to even get out the centre circle and goalmouth
incidents were so few and far between, rather than go back to the centre
spot after a goal, we'd just restart with a goal kick, to keep the
The only thing was that the ball
was so incredibly hard and heavy (and sore), I could hardly kick it out
the goal area at goal kicks.
And it was full-sized goalposts,
the crossbar of which I couldn't even reach even if someone gave me a
dookie-up. It also took me about 15 steps to even run across the
goalmouth, never mind being able to dive to stop balls."
"But some bright spark decided we
were ready for a competitive match and organised a game against Granton
Primary, which had a grand tradition of school football teams.
I'll never forget the name of
Hugh Stevenson, in the Granton. team. He claimed he was the
same age as us, but this kid was so huge I'm sure he had 'repeated' for
about eight years and was actually old enough to drive!
Every time a Granton player got
the ball they passed to Hugh, who then fired it straight past me into the
back of the net - except there wasn't a net, so my wee legs got knackered
just fetching the ball.
Once, he shot the ball straight
at me and I took this cannonball full in the chest, staggered back four or
five steps, and fell over the goal line - I think I was the only Wardie
player to score that day.
I don't recall how far into
double figures Granton got.
Despite our obvious ineptitude at
football we were entered into an inter-schools competition at the playing
fields in Inverleith Row (at Eildon Street), but I find I have wiped all
other memories of that; they were obviously so bad!"
"Music always seemed to consist
of splitting the class into groups and singing a song in a 'round' - once
the first group had sung the first line the second lot started, and so on.
And it usually was some French
song - probably Frere Jacques.
There's a memory lurking of the
day Mrs Fraser got just a little too ambitious - or maybe simply
miscounted - and had us split into so many groups that the first lot had
finished before the last group had even sung a note!
Mrs Fraser was also obsessed with
that 'Doh, Ray, Me' hand thing, which she must have thought was a much
more useful exercise to improve singing than, say, the perhaps slightly
more relevant practising breath control!
Paul Johnson, Edinburgh: August 25, 2006.
Thank you to Ed Thomson, now living in Glamis Castle, Angus, who wrote:
"I remember Mrs Wilson and Mrs
Wallace from the 1960s, when they ran the Playgroup at the Wardie Tennis Pavilion.
Occasionally I stopped by, to do running repairs to the trikes
and play equipment."
Glamis Castle, Angus Scotland:
February 25, 2007
Thank you to Phil Wilson, Aberdeen, Scotland, for telling me
about one of his photos, captioned:
"My mother, the indomitable Jessie Wallace, Mrs. Paterson and the
I have passed a link to
this photo to Ed Thomson.
Stubbs: February 25, 2007
"I went to Wardie primary school,
to Ainslie Park High,
What Paul Johnston wrote about
regarding his time at Wardie school is bang on! Hugh
Stevenson of the Granton school football team of the time must have been
around 35 years old, and 6ft 2 tall !!"
Bruce Walker, Edinburgh:
Message (and email address)
posted in EdinPhoto Guest Book, August 3, 2010
Coutts also described Paul Johnson's comments (1 above)
as "spot on". Unfortunately, not all of Donny's memories were
remember the gym hall and the lovely Alice in Wonderland murals on the
playing football on that awful sloping pitch and going away on school
whose wrath was to be avoided at all costs.
My recollection of Wardie is that
of how I would imagine a prison camp to be;
the discipline was extreme and punishment
was meted out in many forms. The main one was ‘the belt’ which was used
upon me more times than I care to imagine. Thank God that form of assault
has been long abolished!"
reality, the ‘teachers’ spoiled those early formative years for me.
Though I have often thought of going back to tread those corridors
one more time, I can’t quite bring myself to do it."
Donny Coutts, East
Lothian, Scotland: August 3, 2010
to Paul Reid who wrote:
"On my first day at Wardie,
I was taught by Miss Grigor.
Other teachers that I remember
- Mrs Hume,
- Mr Wallace. He was a
good, kindly teacher. He always wore a green tweed suit and brown
- Brian Law,
Felix, from Caracas!"
"The gymnasium was home to all
plays, services etc. On the wall there was the famous 'Alice in
Wonderland' mural with the golliwog which was recently subject to attack
by history revisionists!
In the corridor were scary
display cabinets with all kinds of stuffed wildlife."
"This has been my brief
recollection of a great era and a wonderful school, although we didn't
see it that way, 50 years ago!"
Paul Reid, Glasgow, Scotland: 23+24 December 2016