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Gatepiers, railings and boundary walls at Bearsden Primary School, Roman Road, Bearsden

A Category B Listed Building in Bearsden North, East Dunbartonshire

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Latitude: 55.9192 / 55°55'9"N

Longitude: -4.3333 / 4°19'59"W

OS Eastings: 254281

OS Northings: 672027

OS Grid: NS542720

Mapcode National: GBR 3P.000H

Mapcode Global: WH3NV.DHR4

Plus Code: 9C7QWM98+MM

Entry Name: Gatepiers, railings and boundary walls at Bearsden Primary School, Roman Road, Bearsden

Listing Name: Bearsden Primary School (former New Kilpatrick Higher Grade Public School) including gatepiers, railings and boundary walls and excluding gymnasium annexe to southeast, Roman Road, Bearsden

Listing Date: 14 August 2018

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 407010

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB52479

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Bearsden

County: East Dunbartonshire

Town: Bearsden

Electoral Ward: Bearsden North

Traditional County: Dunbartonshire

Tagged with: Architectural structure


Bearsden Primary School was built in 1910-11 as a Higher Grade public school for the New Kilpatrick School Board to the designs of James M. Monro & Sons in a neo-Baroque and Beaux-Arts style. Located at Bearsden Cross at the corner of Roman Road and Drymen Road, the building is rectangular in plan and is situated towards the centre of its site. It is faced with cream polished sandstone ashlar. The projecting central block to the principal (west) elevation has a Baroque centrepiece with round-arch pediment, advanced pilasters, scrolled cornice, cartouche and keystone details. There are canted entrances within the return angles to either side (former boys and girls entrances), both with round-arch surrounds, fanlights and keystone windows above. The flanking bays have oriel windows with modillion aprons and segmental-arch pediments in the window heads. The north elevation has a large key-stoned round-arched window to the first floor library flanked by large segmentally-arched workshop/classroom windows.

The windows are square-headed with moulded stone cills (mostly fixed and bipartite) with double-glazed replacement uPVC sash and case windows. The roofs are piended with grey slates and decorative terracotta ridge tiles, ashlar skews and four highly-detailed octagonal-plan ventilators with caps and finials. There is a large decorative ventilator with pierced with round-arch openings and a crown cap while the other three have timber slats and domed caps to the centre of the plan.

The interior, seen in 2018, has a largely intact decorative scheme dating to the early 20th century. There is a large top-lit, double-height central hall with moulded columns and a herring-bone parquet floor. To each end of the hall are open dog-leg stairs with timber candle-snuffer capped newel posts. The carved timber hammer-beam roof is supported on scrolled corbels. The hall mezzanine has moulded timber handrails and scroll work, cast iron metalwork banisters with decorative metal floral, leaf and cartouche motifs. Classroom doorways feature carved timberwork surrounds, segmental-arched tops and other decorative elements. Classrooms to the north of the ground floor are entered through a twin door surround with canted-angle doors. Black and white tiles to dado height in high traffic areas.

The head teacher's room (former boardroom) is complete and well-detailed with carved timber fireplace set within a moulded recess, decorative plasterwork ceiling and cornice, stained timber panelling to dado height, and coloured and leaded glazing with swag motif. Administrative rooms also retain good early 20th century decorative schemes with Art Nouveau style fire surrounds and panelled timber doors with brass handles.

There is a low rubble boundary wall to the perimeter with steel railings. Pairs of dressed sandstone gate piers with decorative capstones are located to the west and north sides.

The separate gymnasium (and cafeteria) annexe at the southeast corner of the school site is a plain two-storey and rendered annexe ancillary building that was extended after 1911. In accordance with Section 1 (4A) of the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997 the following is excluded from the listing: gymnasium annexe to southeast.

Statement of Interest

Bearsden Primary School (former New Kilpatrick Higher Grade School) is a notable example of an early 20th century board school. The school has a highly-detailed exterior and interior with a largely intact neo-Baroque decorative treatment throughout which was more typically associated with high-status public or commercial buildings the period. The design of the building reflects the school board's ambitious approach to new building for its higher grade education provision prior to the full-scale introduction of secondary education after 1918.

Age and Rarity

The first school on this site at New Kilpatrick (later subsumed by Bearsden) in East Dunbartonshire was built in 1860. A larger school was built beside it in 1880. Both of these schools were demolished and replaced in 1910-11 by the New Kilpatrick Higher Grade School, designed to accommodate 580 elementary pupils and 150 higher grade pupils. The 3rd Edition Ordnance Survey map (revised in 1914) shows the building occupying the same footprint as it does presently.

State-sponsored, largely free school education was established in Scotland following the introduction of the momentous Education (Scotland) Act of 1872. The Act made education compulsory for children between the ages of 5 and 13 and placed responsibility for education and the provision of school buildings on locally elected school boards. Hundreds of 'Board schools' were built across the country, with many examples concentrated in Glasgow and Edinburgh.

During this period of increased spending on state-sponsored municipal services the definition of secondary education remained unclear. Educationalists proposed more emphasis be placed on the teaching of technical and scientific subjects. Higher Grade Schools were intended for pupils who would remain in education after elementary school up to the age of sixteen and whose aim was likely a career in industry or commerce. In this respect, the higher grades were an early step towards more vocational forms of education. By 1908 there were around one hundred and thirty higher grade schools in Scotland. Some of these were existing elementary schools that had expanded to accommodate the requirement for higher grade education (Milngavie and Bearsden Herald). The New Kilpatrick School was purpose-built as a Higher Grade school with large, light-filled workshops and classrooms for science, art, cookery and woodwork among other subjects.

Responsibility for education passed to county and city authorities under the terms of the Education (Scotland) Act enacted in 1918. One of the principle aims of the 1918 Act was to provide greater provision of secondary school education which remained in need of restructuring and expansion (McKinney, p.3). As a result of these changes, the New Kilpatrick Higher Grade School became Bearsden Academy in 1920. After a new secondary school was built in Morven Road in 1958, it became Bearsden Primary School.

Buildings put up between 1840 and 1945 which are of special architectural or historic interest and of definite character may be listed. While schools dating from the extraordinary programme of school building in Scotland by the school boards (1872-1918) are not a rare building type, Bearsden Primary is among the more elaborately detailed examples of the period, having distinctive neo-Baroque and Beaux-Arts influenced design and symmetrical planning. The chosen style is similar to a number of the higher education facilities being built at some of Scotland's universities during the Edwardian period. The interior, which is remarkably largely intact, is of a high specification with good classical decorative detailing (see Architectural and Historic Interest below).

Architectural or Historic Interest


The interior, seen in 2018, has a largely intact and well-detailed scheme which is well above the usually standard specifications of a board school of its period. A mixture of classical and Art Nouveau decorative detailing, typical of the early 20th century is included throughout the interior spaces, particularly within the head teacher's room and the central hall, as well as a good number of fixtures and fittings. The central assembly hall with hammer-beam roof and open staircases at each end, mezzanine corridor level and the head teacher's office are particularly well detailed.

Little change has been made to the decorative scheme, adding to the early 20th century character and integrity of the building. A principal change was the removal, in 1959, of the tiered levels in some of the classrooms when the building became Bearsden Primary School. This change has not impacted significantly on the integrity of the interior as a whole.

Plan form

The school retains a largely unaltered plan form and is able to inform our understanding of theories in education around the turn of the 20th century and in particular how a higher grade school functioned. The plan form is largely symmetrical with a clear hierarchy of spaces influenced by Beaux-Arts planning. The positioning of the large windows and top lights allow light to penetrate the building as much as possible for the convenience of the technical classrooms. The significant size of the classrooms reflects the intended use of the school as a higher grade school. The separate boys and girls entrances within the outer wings, leading to separate staircases at either end of the hall is also typical of public schools built during this period.

Technological excellence or innovation, material or design quality

The Bearsden Primary School is a notable example of neo-Baroque and Beaux-Arts influenced architecture of the Edwardian period in Scotland. It is among the more elaborately detailed schools of its type and for its period. At the opening ceremony in May 1911, members of the board noted that the building was a 'credit to its architect' with a 'hint of extravagance' (Milngavie and Bearsden Herald). Piended roofs, notable carved stone detailing with cartouches, carved panels, aprons and key-stoned arches all add to the design quality and are all typical features of this style of architecture. The highly decorative louvered timber roof ventilators are also representative of the design quality.

Public and commercial architecture during the late Victorian and Edwardian period, broadly from around 1894 to 1914, adopted the Beaux Arts and Baroque Revival styles which are often associated with grander commercial and civic buildings such as new banks, train stations, libraries and museums. Richly ornamented classical details were used but tended to be applied sparingly and with understatement. Balanced design and simple massing were partly a response to the stylistic complexity and ornament of the Scots Baronial and Free-Renaissance architecture that preceded this period.

Beaux-Arts planning and design was based on the new interest in French architecture. The École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris was a state-funded training centre that fostered an approach to design based on formal planning, and a scholarly understanding of the architecture of ancient Greece and Rome and the Renaissance. A number of influential Scottish architects including John James Burnet and John Keppie received École des Beaux-Arts training. Burnet was one of the influential leaders of the vogue for Baroque monumentality in Scotland. His 1894 banking hall addition to the former Glasgow Savings Bank (LB32734) in Ingram Street is an exceptional example of Beaux-Arts/neo-Baroque architecture in Scotland.

The New Kilpatrick School was built to the designs of the Glasgow based practice, James M. Monro & Sons. Significantly, in terms of James Monro's architectural career and design interests, both Burnet and Keppie were his proposers when he sought admission as a Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects (FRIBA) in 1906. Monro was first articled to John Henderson's practice in Edinburgh in around 1855. He then became an assistant in the office of Browne & Wardrop before entering private practice. His son Charles E. Monro (1867-1945) was a partner in the practice from 1893 and was responsible for the design of many of their buildings after that date. Another good example of their work is the 1895 Hamilton Hall (LB46109) in St Andrews. The firm carried out a number of school board commissions towards the end of James Monro's career including the Maryhill, Anderston and Bellshill Public Schools. The Beaux-Arts influenced planning and neo-Baroque detailing of the New Kilpatrick School was more typical of some of the designs for higher education schools and universities in Scotland around the same date. Examples include George Watson's Ladies College (LB28002) of 1910 by George Washington Browne and Edinburgh College of Art (LB27974) of 1906-10 by J M Dick Peddie.


Bearsden Primary School is built on the site of two earlier 19th century school buildings occupying the same area of ground at the centre of New Kilpatrick. The school is set within a conservation area and is a key building at Bearsden Cross. The wider setting of Bearsden Cross remains largely unaltered since the school was built in 1911. The 3rd Edition Ordnance Survey (1917) map shows a largely identical plan footprint to the neighbouring buildings. The school groups well with other inter-visible buildings of a similar date including, to the north, the tenement block with ground floor shops and offices at 1-11 Roman Road and 102-116 Drymen Road (listed category C, LB48594). Built in 1906 by Matthew Henderson, it is a good example of early 20th century commercial and residential architecture.

A late 20th century, gabled office development is located directly adjacent to the north perimeter of the school grounds. This small scale commercial development does not impact significantly on the immediate setting of the school.

Regional variations

There are no known regional variations.

Close Historical Associations

There are no known associations with a person or event of national importance at present (2018).

External Links

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