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Wester Hailes Primary School by David McMillan – Part One


Wester Hailes Primary school 1952-1957 to the right of the dark van in the photo off Wester Hailes Road.

I enjoyed primary school. I fell in love with my first teacher, Miss Ogilvie, who had a brow that wrinkled when she smiled and vivid red lipstick. Early stirrings of romance? Sadly, it never really worked out for us. I wasn’t obsessed by her, so I have happy memories of being in her infant class.
If it was ever thought that young minds could be ennobled by their surroundings, no one mentioned it to the architects of Wester Hailes Primary School. Built on a post-war shoestring it was absolutely without distinction and might have served equally well as an abattoir or an army barracks or prisoner of war camp. I hasten to make clear that despite it’s shortcomings as an architectural ensemble, being there was not a disfiguring experience for me. Like many things in life, you just accept it at the time and criticism, in this case pretty gentle, is retrospective. So although it was some distance from being an old established hallowed pile, nevertheless, concrete walls and metal windows, tarmac floors and Stygian toilets in no way inhibited my formative years. In the classrooms huge coke burning stoves were fenced off in a corner, the sole source of heating in the winter. Dribbling some of our daily milk ration onto the circular top and watching the globules dancing and hissing around the rings until they evaporated completely was a beltable offence.(Continued in Part Two)

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