The History of St Mary's RC Primary School

A short history of our school!

The view looking East towards Cox's Mill, the Clock Tower and Stack, from our rooftop playground.

The view from the rooftop of the school loooking East to Cox's Stack.

The story of education for Lochee children goes back more than a century to 1859, when the Sisters of Mercy from Derry settled nearby in Wellburn and opened a schoolroom for the local children.

Although the Sisters of the Poor came to Wellburn in 1863 to establish a home for the aged, it is presumed that the schoolroom was still in use. Official school records, commencing in 1868, mention this room, unfortunately placed next to the Infirmary. One other disadvantage was that the school was closed when the old people were on Retreat, presumably to give them peace and quiet.

Due to the increased influx of Irish immigrants and later (the passing of) the Education Act of 1872 making education compulsory, this single room soon became seriously overcrowded and new premises - "in a more central locality" - had to be built.

The view looking North over Lochee towards Clement Park, from our rooftop playground.

By 1875, the school had divided into three separate schools - Boys, Girls, and Infants - established in temporary buildings in St Mary's Lane. As before, the accommodation soon proved to be inadaquate, and in 1878, new buildings, incorporating a new school, billiard room, teacher's house, were erected in St Mary's Lane and Burnside Street at a cost of £2000, a large sum in those days, particularly as it had to be found by the Parish Priest.

Some twenty years later a large scale reconstruction of these bulidings took place, again due to overcrowding, during which time the classes were instructed in the church. Two classes of boys were placed in St Mary's Cottage, a former manse which stood at the foot of Gibbs Lane.

These reconstructed premises were to serve until 1938 when they were demolished to make way for the present school. Previous to this, in 1928, St Mary's Cottage was demolished and a boys school, later to be occupied by the Infants, was erected.

The view looking West over Lochee towards Camperdown and the hills beyond, from our rooftop playground.

During the demolition works, the children were scattered, the Infants being taught in the new Church Hall, and the Primary in Victoria Hall and South Road School. This latter school continued to be used mainly by Secondary pupils until 1954, when the remaining pupils were transferred to St Joseph's and St John's.

The story of Catholic education in Lochee is much more than an account of the various school buildings and their situations. It is the story of the people concerned - the parents, the children, the teachers and the Parish Priests. The social background was very much reflected in the children, and the educational progress developed in tune with the rising living standards during the past hundred years.

It is the aim of St Mary's today to maintain the high standards sought by parents in over 130 years of education in Lochee.