The High School of Dundee

(Dundee High School)

High School of Dundee
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

High School of Dundee

A low Neo-Classical edifice in Euclid Crescent, which serves as the visual termination of Reform Street in Dundee, the High School was built in 1834 to bring together three local schools; namely the Academy, the Grammar School and the English School. The combined school was originally known as the Dundee Public Seminaries, with the name High School only adopted in 1859. Today, it represents the city's only independent school, with a roll of 985 boys and girls (2012), aged 5 to 18, who live in Dundee, Angus and Fife. The school employs 106 teaching staff and 53 support staff.

The High School can trace its origins back to 1239 and the foundation of a Grammar School in Dundee, by the Abbot of Lindores, making this one of the oldest schools in Scotland. In 1589, this school occupied premises in St Clement's Lane, where it was to remain for two hundred years before moving to School Wynd to share a building with the English School (founded c.1700). The Dundee Academy was established in the Nethergate in 1785.

The present building came about as the result of an architectural competition, which was won by Edinburgh-based George Angus (1792 - 1845). The building was funded by Dundee Town Council, through a tax on beer. The ashlar facade is dominated by an eight-column Doric portico, with pavilions to the east and west. A two-storey technical and gymnasium block was added to the rear (facing Bell Street) in 1886 and the Margaret Harris Building was constructed as the High School for Girls, to segregate female pupils when they were admitted from 1890. Further extensions came in 1936 and 1971.

Famous pupils of the Grammar School were, reputedly, the patriot William Wallace (1274 - 1305), and certainly Hector Boece (c.1465 - 1536), the historian who was the first Principal of the University of Aberdeen, and 'Fairy Minister' Rev. Robert Kirk (1644-92). The mathematician Sir James Ivory (1765 - 1842) taught here. Notable former pupils of the High School itself include industrialist William Robertson (1825 - 1899), scientist and Principal of the University of Edinburgh, Sir James Ewing (1855 - 1935), engineers Sir Alexander Gibb (1872 - 1958) and Sir Robert Lickley (1912-98), philosopher George Elder Davie (1912 - 2007), scientist and first Vice Chancellor of the Open University Lord Perry of Walton (1921 - 2003), pop photographer Iain MacMillan (1938 - 2006), disgraced politician Mike Watson (b. 1949), political broadcasters Brian Taylor (b. 1955) and Andrew Marr (b. 1959), author A.L. Kennedy (b. 1965) and musician KT Tunstall (b. 1975).

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