Former Pupils' Noticeboard


St Ninian's Primary Pupils 1941


Please post your comments here about your memories of your time at St Ninian's.  E-mail us at and we will include them in this section.


Three Enduring Memories of Dorothy McGuire who left St Ninian's in 1975

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to roam the corridors of St. Ninian's one last time.  It was a distinctly weird, and slightly unsettling experience; like walking the landscape of a dream.  If I did not have the photographs I took, I would be inclined to think that it was a dream.  I got some shots of my Dad's old room.  We suspect the sinks are the same as the ones he used, but he remarked on the 'new' benches.  I was charmed by the blackboard rubber wedging a window to the corridor closed.  There was no mention of the school ghost in the display in the assembly hall.  I suppose the ghost really belonged to Westermains House, but it was a source of school pride nevertheless.  Enjoy your new accommodation.  Dorothy McGuire 


1.  “When I was a first year at St. Ninian's, I was knocked over in a corridor of the old building, and suffered a concussion.  I remember an intense and worsening headache, which created a barrier between me and the rest of the world, that required an effort for me to communicate through.  Such was the concern of the head teacher, Dr. Griffin (who was not a young man at the time) that, when my mother came to collect me, he picked me up and carried out to the car.  Dr. Griffin was a dedicated teacher.  Some years after his death, his widow (formerly school librarian at St. Ninian's) told me that Dr. Griffin had been exempted from military service during World War II.  During the war they lived in the west end of Glasgow.  Dr. Griffin taught in a school in Dumbarton, and volunteered as an air raid warden in Glasgow.  One night he came in late from his warden duties, with a bad cold.  The next morning, Mrs. Griffin was strongly of the opinion that he was in no fit state to go to work.  However, Dr. Griffin insisted that he had some marked papers, and it was essential they be returned to the school that day.  Mrs Griffin told him that he should stay in bed, while she took the papers to the school.  She took a bus to Dumbarton and, as she passed through Clydebank, she witnessed the scenes of devastation wrought by the German bombers.  When she got to the school, the head teacher told her that the papers were not so important, and that there had been no need for her to make that journey.  Recounting the story many years later, Mrs. Griffin maintained that her journey had been necessary, as it was the only way she could prevent her sick husband from struggling out.”


2.   “What to do with classes left teacher-less by staff illness is a perennial problem in schools.  For some time in the 1970s, a policy of class dispersal was followed at St. Ninian’s.  Armed with a clipboard, a senior member of staff would visit the absent teacher’s classes, divide the pupils into groups, and send them to other classes, where they were expected to get on with their homework quietly.  Pupils soon learnt that care was needed when explaining their presence in these other classes.  If they told the class teacher they had been ‘split up’, the teacher might respond with ‘So someone took an axe to you did they?  You were dispersed.’  If the pupils announced that they had been ‘dispersed’, a teacher might respond with a sarcastic comment on the fancy use of language.  It was safer to say something like ‘Mr. Kearns sent us’, and be greeted with a sigh of resignation. On one occasion I and some other senior school girls were sent to a maths classroom where Mr. Brown (of the Science Department) was teaching a first year class about electricity.  With my homework in front of me, I was semi-aware of the lesson going on around me.  There was mention of Scotland’s hydro-electric power station, and an electricity surplus at some periods of the day, which was channelled to France.  A small boy raised his hand.  ‘Sir’ he said ‘if the French don’t get the electricity at night, how do they light the Paris nightclubs?’  Mr. Brown turned to my group.  ‘Girls, girls,’ he entreated ‘take this boy aside and give him a lesson in romance’.  Then turning back to the boy, he said ‘They don’t use electricity to light the Paris nightclubs.  Candles boy, candles!’  There was no answer to that.”


3.  The Belt In the 1970s the tawse was in general use in Scottish schools.  At St. Ninian’s we did not use the word “tawse”  instead we referred to this instrument of punishment as ‘the belt’.  Generally male teachers were reluctant to belt girls.  In a class punishment, all the boys might be belted, while the girls were given lines.  Within an hour of the belting, boys might be taking money from some of the girls to write their lines for them.  Most of the belts were purpose made articles, comprising of a strip of thick leather, with a slit extending several inches along the business end.  Teachers who did not have a belt of their own could readily borrow one from a colleague, and it seemed a hard fate for a pupil to be sent on an errand to procure the instrument of his own punishment, and return it afterwards.  One music teacher tried to use an ordinary dress belt into which a slit had been cut.  This flimsy implement barely overcame air resistance to impact with an offending pupil’s hand.  It was the occasion of hilarity in the class, and prompted a performance worthy of a professional footballer from the offending pupil.  Mr. Gormley, of the Maths Department, carried his belt over his shoulder, concealed beneath his jacket.  He could bring it out and slam it upon a desk in one smooth motion, instantly catching the attention of everyone in the room.  His skill with the belt extended to lighting a match with it.  If a match is propped securely in a semi-upright position, and the belt is swung precisely, the match will light.  I saw Mr. Gormley do this once.  That evening I told my father about it.  My father, who taught science in St. Ninian’s in the late ‘50s and early ‘60s, smiled and said ‘Who do you think taught him that trick?’


A message from Tony Gallagher - left in 1969

Hello, from about as far away from St.Ninian's as it's possible to get. I've just been having my daily up-date from the BBC website and came across the news of the national award won by one of your teachers. So, congrats to him, and also to the school.

I left in 1969, and have only learned this minute that you've moved to Bishopbriggs. I knew the old school was to be pulled down, which I found really sad, as I'd hoped to visit one of these days. Amazingly, I still dream about the place. I 'was there' the other night actually. Saw the old Westermains building where we had an art room and pottery. I loved the place. Went from there to Art School and eventually out here to NZ where I teach and sell the odd thing.

Around the office area in the old school were displayed numerous photos of staff and pupils. Wondered if anyone still had these. We were photographed in the mid-sixties down on the football pitch. Arranged in a semi-circle, we were taken with a motorised camera to make one of these long pics with everybody in.

Keep up the good work. Best wishes, Tony Gallagher.



A Trip Down Memory Lane from Tom Farraioli - known as "Chip"

I just cannot believe they actually pulled down my old school!  I would have thought it would have had many years of life ahead of it!  I went to school just a year after one of your more “famous pupils” – Paul Wilson. I actually got sent off in a match against him, just because he fell over when I put my foot behind the ball as he kicked it......what a diver!  “Wee Higgey” (Mr Higgins) was completely conned I reckon!  I actually taught Paul’s wee brother Jerome the high jump (under the orders of Mr Higgins). I think I was driven harder than most by Mr Higgins, as I had an elder brother who had lost both legs when young but was obsessed with sport.  I was ALWAYS involved in school sports in nearly every event - running (various distances), cross-country, hurdles, discus, long jump and high jump.  I have to admit I loved it despite the constant goading of Mr H who constantly used my elder brother to “motivate me”.  I remember many of my teachers with great fondness - Mr Aidie and Boab McCann of  Science; Mr Lyons of Art; the dreaded Miss Childs of Geography (actually she was more dreaded by the girls than boys) and Mr Duffy of History.   We had two Mr Drakes if memory serves me right - one in English and one in Music.  Mr Bhudis - no prizes for guessing what he taught! We also had a music teacher who wrote many Celtic songs (Phil Riley was it?).  I, along with many others, including what felt like the entire Celtic team with Jock Stein, attended his funeral. Mr Cairns of English is another great teacher I remember -  he guided us through the Just William series of books.  I remember most, if not all, of my “techie teachers” -  “Wee Dan Traynor” who we all thought a bit odd, until one day he came in and it turned out he was a bit of a whiz at maths. Talking of which, I could never forget Mr Hamilton, my Canadian Maths teacher, who finally opened up the world of maths to me, showing it wasn’t as difficult as I thought - a great guy.  Turning back to the Technical Department, nearly everybody’s favourite, and an EXCELLENT teacher, Mr Teenan.  We all thought he was going to be appointed Head of Department, but he was usurped by Mr Boyle, who apparently, as he kept telling us, wrote many books, but seemed to know little about practical technology!  No-one could forget Mr Graham who booted the backside of the last boy into his class, all taken in fun, but he was well respected and feared (as was sometimes necessary by some). Class sizes were HUGE - I think the smallest class I was ever in ALWAYS exceeded 30 in number. I could go on and on, but won`t bore you any longer! Suffice to say I enjoyed my time at St Ninians and thought it well prepared every pupil for life. Tough at times but great, and I really would not have wanted to be educated elsewhere. We even had a Scottish Champion weight lifter, who taught Economics and Secretarial Studies, Mr Hart!  I may try to pop along some time to see the new school when it is completed , but am still baffled as to how they could possibly pull down the “corridors of power” of St Ninian’s, a place I shall always fondly remember. Tom Farraioli



 This notice was posted by the family of William Shovlin, who attended this school in the 1940's.

Flying Officer William Shovlin was born in 1911 in Milton of Campsie, and attended St Ninian's High School in the 1920's before becoming a student at Glasgow University.  He graduated with a Master of Arts (MA) degree with honours in 1931.

He had always wanted to teach and after graduation, he joined the staff at St Machan's School in Lennoxtown.  He completed his pilot training in 1939 with the Scottish Flying Club, and joined the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve at the onset of World War Two.

He became a Flying Officer and was stationed in India during the war and died there on 13th August 1942.  William and fellow pilot Joseph Harry Smith of the Royal Canadian Air Force were killed by a mob at a railway station in Futwa, near Calcutta.  Several men were subsequently tried and found guilty of murder.

Although Officer Smith's body was found, William's remains were never found, but he is remembered at the Commonwealth War Graves Commission Memorial Cemetery in Singapore, and also on a family gravestone in Campsie Cemetery.

His name is inscribed on the Memorial Board of Honour in the main hallway of St Ninian's High School and on the Alumni Laureate board in the Assembly Hall.  He is also listed on Glasgow Unvierseity's memorial in their chapel, and on their website roll of honour which is dedicated to the University's war casualties. 


A Letter from a Former Pupil

Dear Mr McLaughlin

I'm an old alumni of St Ninian’s. I graduated in (I think) 1976. Last
week I received my PhD in Education at Massey University in New
Zealand. I currently teach at the University.  In my thesis
acknowledgements, I thanked a number of people, but you may be
interested to know that two of the people I acknowledged were teachers
at St Ninian’s.  Now, we are going back a bit here, so you may not
personally remember them, but I thanked Mr Boyle and Mr McKevnnie. They
were both Art teachers and they inspired me, leading me on to a career
in design education. While I was not a successful student at St Ninian’s
(one art higher, three O' grades), I did go on to complete my highers
years later at night school and it was Pat Boyle who inspired me to do
that. I have not looked back since and it now seems incredible to me,
as a working class lad, to have gone on and achieved a doctorate. Anyway, If you are able to contact my old teachers that would be great.   As teachers we don't always realise just what an impact we can have on other people's lives. I have sent you the url of my thesis where you can read and pass on my acknowledgements. I also talk about my schooling at St Flannans and Kirkintilloch in general.

Dr. Mike McAuley




Memories of Natalie Lackey who left St Ninians in 2008.

I started St Ninian's High School in 2004 in the old building.  It
was very big and very old - there are lots of memories in that building.
I was just in first year and I got lost on my first day!  I asked if someone could show me the way to Mr Clark’s English class but they had sent
me to the French department! It’s funny now but back then it wasn't!

There was also a crisis when all the pupils had to be decanted to cabins because of the
asbestos that was found in the Strathclyde Building.  That was not fun - we were all bunched up on a pitch in very hot cabins – that was the worst year ever.

I really liked school - sometimes I wish I had paid more attention! I
really liked English with Mrs McKenna - we got on really well.  I also loved
Administration with Mrs Murray.  She is a fab teacher - she is a good
listener and very funny - she should get an award for best teacher. I also
had a very good Learning Support teacher Mrs Spears -  I got on really
well with her and she helped me a lot through High School as she was
kind, helpful, funny and a good listener. She was able to make me
become a better person and because of her I now have a fulltime job as a detached
youth worker for Streetlinks and I am also going to join Strathclyde


A Hello from Ian Currie Ferguson who now lives in Australia

I have many fond memories of the Primary and Secondary school.  Due to the education and ethics I was taught there, have been reasonably successful in the air-conditioning business I started in Perth, Western Australia, following my immigration in 1981.  I had the privilege to play in the same team as Paul Wilson and had the greatest admiration for Mr Higgins, our Head Gym teacher.  I will always be indebted to St Ninian's.


An Anniversary by Martin Thompson, Former Pupil

A former pupil, Martin Thompson, has been in touch to advise that 2011 is the 25 year anniversary of St Ninian's High School winning the Scottish U15 Shield in Football.  He has very kindly supplied a photograph of the team who brought us such esteemed victory.




Please click on the link below to view a video showing two of our former pupils receiving acknowledgement at Scottish Parliament.



War Memorial

Here in St Ninian's High School, we have a war memorial in our reception area, where we have commemorated former pupils who lost their lives during the first and second world wars.  Two of those pupils have recently been tracked down by another former pupil and relative, Mr William Lowe, now of Carfin.  He has kindly sent us details of where these former pupils are formally honoured  by the Commonwealth War Graves Commission. 

In Memory of
325586, 1st/8th Bn, Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders
Died on 16th May 1917
Remembered with honour at
Arras Memorial


In Memory of
1570522, 106 Sqdn., Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve
Died age 21 on 8th May 1944
Son of John and Mary Friel of Kirkintilloch, Dunbartonshire
Remembered with honour at
St Viatre Communal Cemetery




Exam Paper from 1961

Thank you to Abigail Osborne, daughter of former pupil, Archibald Pettigrew, for fowarding a photograph of this 1961 Chemistry Higher Exam paper from St Ninian's High School.  Mr Pettigrew sadly passed away and his daughter came across this paper in a fifth year history notebook whilst clearing through his effects.  





The Ryan Family


Thank you to Michael Ryan who contacted us following a visit to our website. Michael’s father, also Michael Ryan, was a pupil here in St Ninian’s High School, and left in 1932, aged 14. He was born of parents John and Jane Ryan (nee McIntyre), who lived at 111 Meiklehill Road, Kirkintilloch.


After leaving school aged 14, Michael Ryan Snr trained as a butcher, before leaving and working his way up to being a Sergeant in the Black Watch. He left the Black Watch to train as a pilot, and joined the 198 Squadron towards the end of WW2. Following the war, Michael Ryan Snr and his new wife settled in Sittingbourne, where they went on to have a family of 8 children, the third of whom is Michael Ryan Jnr who supplied this information.


After the war, Michael Ryan Snr trained as a draughtsman with Freeman Fox, and then moved to Fraser & Chalmers, which later became Parsons, then GEC. He was also involved in works for the Admiralty – particularly weapons and personnel lifts in frigates. He regularly returned to Scotland as part of this work to visit sites, particularly Gourock.


Thank you to Mr Michael Ryan (Jnr) for supplying this story.