A brief history!

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school image

John Newland is a man of whom little is known. He made his wealth as a plantation owner in Jamaica. This is not the place to undergo a review of the ethics of this, suffice to say that in his will, dated 1799, he left a considerable sum (£14500) to establish an academy in Bathgate. After much legal wrangling the trustees created a number of 'little schools' several in Bathgate and one in Armadale; the Academy itself being completed in 1833. The first Rector of the Academy was Mr James Taylor followed by the Rev John Smith. The first trustees went to considerable lengths to ensure an establishment of the highest educational quality. This, we believe, continues to this day.

The above information is extracted from the book 'John Newland' by Rev David Graham published 1901

Previous Rectors

The first person who supervised the original group of schools that became Bathgate Academy was Mr James Taylor, although not actually given the title of Rector. He performed this task for 14 years prior to the academy opening when he was appointed as the first Rector. Unfortunately he died after being in post for 1 year. The following is a list of Rectors in chronological order:

  • 1833-1834 Mr James Taylor
  • 1834-1836 Mr John Smith (resigned to take up clerical duties)
  • 1836-1844 Mr James Fairbairn (resigned to become House Governor of Heriot's Hospital)
  • 1844-1851 Mr Gilbert M Gibson (resigned)
  • 1851-1860 Mr Alexander Inglis (resigned to take up Chair in Prince of Wales College, Prince Edward Island)
  • 1860-1869 Mr Adam Smith (resigned)
  • 1873-1880 Mr David F Lowe (resigned to become House Governor of Heriot's Hospital)
  • 1880-1913 Mr Andrew Dunn (retired)
  • 1913-1940 Mr Robert A Brown (retired)
  • 1914-1918 Mr Andrew Dunn returned as Acting Rector as Rector Brown served in World War 1
  • 1940-1946 Dr H Robbie (resigned to take up post as Rector of Daniel Stewart's College, Edinburgh)
  • 1946-1954 Mr Roderick McCallum (died in post at school concert)
  • 1954-1967 Dr D K Somerville (resigned to take up post as Rector of Whitburn Academy)
  • 1967-1970 Mr James Brodlie (resigned)
  • 1970-1988 Mr Ian MacGregor (retired)
  • 1988-1994 Dr Norman Reid (retired)
  • 1994-2003 Mr John Irvine (resigned to take up post as Depute Director of Education, West Lothian)
  • 2001-2003 Mr Douglas Short held the post of Acting Rector whilst Mr Irvine was seconded to West Lothian Education department
  • 2003-Dec 2011 Mr Joe Boyd (retired)
  • Jan 2012 - (acting post) Mr Grant Abbot
  • March 2012 -August 2021 Mr Grant Abbot (took up post of Head Teacher at Linlithgow Academy)
  • August 2021 - present Mrs Eileen Paxton

Some key dates!

The following is a list of key dates in the schools history :-

  • Spring 1737 Birth of John Newlands.
  • 8 July 1799 Date of John Newland's will leaving legacy for the founding of a school in Bathgate.
  • 17 August 1815 Legal proceeding ended releasing £14500 from legacy.
  • 1817 Education of the 'youth of the parish' begins in several different school-across the parish.
  • 1824 Grounds acquired for site of the academy
  • April 1832 Contract agreed for building of the academy
  • May 1833 First Rector appointed
  • August(?)1833 Academy opens - 412 pupils
  • November 1835 School buildings fully completed
  • 1841 School library established
  • May 1843 Saturday lesson cease!
  • 1844 School library made available to the public (payment 1/- per quarter)
  • 17 April 1844 First Bathgate academy Newlands Day
  • 1856 Extensive repairs required along with a call for 'careful expenditure and ----strict economy'
  • 1862 Friction between town and trustees over the behaviour of pupils during the Newlands Day procession!!
  • 1874 Extension to the building
  • 1889 School fees abolished
  • 1906 North wing destroyed by fire.
  • 1918 Transfer of school to local authority
  • 1921 Newlands Bursary established from sale of school to local authority
  • 1932 West Lothian Educational Trust established and incorporates Newland Trust
  • 1933 Bathgate Academy is known as a senior secondary offering the study of -academic subjects
  • 1934 Telephone installed in Rector's office!!
  • 1935 Milk made available to pupils on payment.
  • 1948 Rector McCallum criticises method of selecting primary 1 pupils by 'a draw from a hat'! This must have been successful as numbers were increased-from 44 to 69!
  • 1948 House system introduced. Houses named as Balbardie, Polkemmet and Wallhouse (later renamed as Newland).
  • 1951 Holiday exchange scheme arranged with a school in Frankfurt, Germany.
  • 1956 First instance of invigilators being used in examinations.
  • 1957/58 Primary section of the school discontinued as the number of secondary pupils ----------------------continues to rise
  • 1962 School cruise to iBerian peninsula.
  • 1964 School holiday to celebrate opening of Forth Road Bridge!
  • 1965 New school building occupied by Lindsay High School
  • 1966 Lord Lyon Sir Thomas Innes grants the award of Arms.
  • 1967 Bathgate Academy and Lindsay High merge in new building.

To be continued