Craigvinean :: Chapter 6 - The School Log Book

Chapter 6 - The School Log Book

The school log-book is of great interest, throwing light on many aspects of life in the Towford area in the recent past, in spite of the fact that entries had to be confined to “subjects specified in the Code” and that “no reflections or opinions of a general character” were to be entered in the log-book. The most frequent comments in the log-book are in fact on attendance, related to weather, illnesses and other causes. Space permits only a small selection of extracts.

Weather Conditions

July 25, 1879 The children have so far to come that when the morning is wet they do not come as on the one side the water is apt to rise and prevent them getting home again and on the other side a wet bog renders it very difficult to reach school even if it was safe.
December 8, 1882 Fearful snow storm came on during Monday afternoon - snow lying on Tuesday to the depth of 2½ feet.
December 15, 1882 Roads all blocked.
December 22, 1882 Sudden thaw - roads all flooded.
December 25, 1884 On Tuesday the Kale Water came down so suddenly in the afternoon that the teacher had to carry the children across the Haugh on his back and had barely time to do so. Got the post-runner to convoy the children living to the west.
November 7, 1884 A storm of hail on Wednesday prevented any children coming school.
March 19, 1886 For the last 13 weeks there has been no school as the roads were sometimes blocked and at other times the weather was bad and stormy.
June 18, 1900 Owing to the thunder and lightning on Wednesday morning only eight children put in an appearance, and these being very little and frightened they had to be sent home after resting for a short time.
December 17, 1902 After the storm of yesterday the bridge across the river has entirely given way. The children on the other side were assembled but had to be sent home as there were no possible means of getting them across.
April 15, 1903 Today was so stormy and the snow lying so deep that only two children came to school. These, after resting, were sent home. (Note date).
February 26, 1904 Snow .... Those who have come to school have been quite exhausted and unfit for work the greater part of the day.
July 31, 1906 A thunderstorm began about 8 this morning and has continued more or less all day. Not a child put in an appearance
April 2, 1917 A bad snow storm came on Tuesday 3rd April and it has gradually got worse. The roads were blocked and not a child was able to come till 16th April again.
September 20, 1926 No children were present today. Owing to torrential rain the roads were impassable and the bridges were submerged.
November 26, 1928 The children experienced difficulty in getting home on Friday. The Riccalton children were almost waist deep in water.

Holidays and Absences

March 23, 1877 Wednesday being the annual Hiring and Games at Pennymuir the children got a holiday. (Note: Pennymuir Show is still held annually on the first Saturday in September).
November 15, 1877 I have given the children a holiday tomorrow as I purpose going to Kelso to draw salary.
March 8, 1878 Attendance good every day this week except on Tuesday - Jedburgh Hinds Hiring - only 15 present.
June 29, 1878 Several absent on account of the sheep shearing.
August 22, 1879 Five boys and two girls absent this week at hay-making.
June 24, 1887 Had a Jubilee Picnic on Tuesday. None came on Wednesday - too tired I suspect.
July 1, 1887 This week a good many absentees - reason given - sheep clipping. The School Board Officer pays no attention and it is fully a year since he was out here.
April 27, 1888 The School Board Officer has not been here for two years and the parents get leave to do as they like.
June 19, 1891 Four boys absent at rabbit coursing and one at peats.
June 16, 1894 Very bad attendance - parents and pupils do as they like and no Board looks after them. Have not seen a Compulsory Officer for years.
October 24, 1917 So many of the children were wanting away today and tomorrow for potato lifting that I closed school for two days.
December 14, 1917 Owing to snow and hard frost Robt. Elliot unable to come owing to horse not being shod.
November 7, 1925 Peter and Nannie B. absent while their boots are repaired.
November 21, 1927 George S. has no boots
November 25, 1927 George S. has now got clogs.

The Hounds

The Fox-hunt appears to have been very closely followed in this area and Towford School was not the only one which lost its pupils when the hounds appeared.

February 10, 1882 Had a holiday this week as the “Border Hounds” met in front of the school.
November 4, 1898 On Friday the “Hounds” had met in vicinity of the school about 8 o’clock - when I entered school at 9 not a child was there - all had gone off - young and old.
January 28, 1898 Today only 17 are present, the rest, all from Hindhope and among whom is a School Board Member’s daughter, having gone after the hounds although forbidden to do so last night.
February 28, 1924 Four boys took French leave to follow hounds at 11 o’clock break.
January 14, 1932 Fox-hounds met at Pennymuir today so I took children there at 9 o’clock. They were anxious to see the “meet” as a fox was to be let loose.


April 13, 1888 Typhoid Fever broken out in the district .... and as one death has taken place in that house and some others lying ill a panic has taken place in the district.
March 5, 1892 There is not one in the district but has the Hooping Cough and some, my own included, are seriously ill.
April 9, 1892 The School has closed itself - all the children without exception are ill - I have been always here but none came.
May 1, 1896 Owing to chicken-pox a number absent both last week and this.
September 2, 1904 James Scott has boils all over his body and Morris Telfer has croup.
September 9, 1904 New drill instructor came on Monday.
December 16, 1904 Owing to a sore throat the Drill Instructor was unable to come.
January 6, 1905 Received news yesterday of the death of Drill Instructor.
September 3, 1909 This is the boy who suffered from St. Vitus’ Dance at the beginning of the year.
April 7, 1914 William J. and his stepbrother Matthew E. excluded for being verminous.
October 12, 1942 Fergie Graham in spite of warning rode on the back of a car, fell off and was bruised and cut.
June 29, 1951 Evelyn H. has been absent all week with running ears.

Structure, Equipment, etc.

November 9, 1877 We have got a supply of water brought in Tiles and Lead Pipes, a distance of 230 yards.
November 15, 1877 Offices (i.e. toilets) have been erected this week.
December 20, 1878 Children cold and consequently lifeless.
September 23, 1909 The walls of the schoolroom have been washed with Hall’s Distemper.
March 11, 1910 A new Barometer was got this week but as air has got into tube it is not in working order.
May 24, 1926 Empire Day .... unfortunately owing to the lack of a flagstaff and Union Jack there could be no Saluting of the Flag.
January 3, 1952 No heating, so no school.


February 22, 1878 The two boys in Mathematics are making rapid progress in Algebra. I can’t report so favourably of their progress in Euclid.
January 10, 1879 Made the Fourth Standard get up their Weights and Measures at home and exercised them during the week.
May 2, 1879 Had a Sham Inspection almost every day this week.
May 8, 1879 School inspected. Copy of summary of report by A. E. Scougal, H. M. Inspector: - “Under the new Master who has been six months here, the School shows improvement in general tone and intelligence. A very good appearance was again made in the ordinary subjects of instruction”.
November 12, 1886 On Tuesday Her Grace the Duchess of Roxburghe visited the school and examined the children in all the standards .... left a considerable number of prizes for the children.
June 14, 1901 Officer, who has been appointed by the Board, gave military drill to all the pupils on Monday.
December 15, 1905 For two weeks all the pupils except 4 in the lowest class have been using note-books instead of slates.
March 18, 1910 Children have begun to keep a record of the readings of Barometer and Thermometer.
September 13, 1912 Boys begun shirt making this week - girls underskirts.
September 8, 1915 Lessons in butter making given by Miss Newbigin, N.D.D.


July 19, 1890 Nothing to write
February 13, 1909 Drill instructor did not come today. Bicycle breakdown. (The drill instructor appears to have cycled from Jedburgh).
May 31, 1926 Tibbie Paxton fell into the burn at dinner time and had to be sent home.
June 29, 1926 For the third time this summer a girl has fallen into the river and has had to be sent home. The children have now been forbidden to go near the river in school hours.
September 19, 1949 Two new boys George and Ian D. were admitted. George is 6 and Ian is 5. They were both severely reprimanded for throwing stones at the hens.
September 23, 1949 George D. was punished severely for using the most appalling language. Altho’ 6 he appears to have made very little progress in reading, etc.

School Roll

May 11, 1877 School Roll 18 boys and 12 girls.
May 24, 1877 Fifteen scholars withdrawn - removing from this district. (Note: There was a general movement of farm workers twice in each year, particularly at the Whit Sunday or May Term, fixed as the 28th May. Wage settlements and hirings were arranged on a half-yearly basis at the Whitsunday and Martinmas Term days).
June 8, 1877 Ten admitted this week. (See above).
April 27, 1895 From the Registers I find several inaccuracies in the ages of the children. William Redshaw aged 9 at the end of the school year is 11 really, James Paxton marked 8 is 9, and William Wilson, William Little and Moses Redshaw, aged respectively 9, 9 and 8 are all placed in the “Under Seven” Registers.
June 14, 1901 School Roll - 30 pupils.
June 5, 1933 There are now 21 on the register.
September 19, 1949 School roll 13. All present.
September 2, 1960 The roll is now 10.

And Finally

June 30, 1964 Today is the last day of Towford School. We have closed today and will not be returning.