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History of West Calder
Chapter XXIII. Educational Statistics and Post Office


When the Reformation dawned upon Scotland, the religious and social upheaval that took place upset the Church of Rome there, along with its universities, monasteries, nunneries, convents and kindred institutions, leaving, of necessity, a new order of things to be established The lands or endowments, which that church and its associates had inherited or acquired, in the course of ages, were then seized by the Crown. Thus the Crown enriched itself at the expense of the Church &c. But furious demands were forthwith made by the court nobles for portions of the spoil or inheritancs, which was lavishly bestowed upon them, thus creating a new class of proprietors, since known as the inheritors or heritors, upon whom devolved payment of the pittance which they have ever since grudgingly doled out to the clergy of the Reformed Kirk.

The reformers, however, more anxious to advance the true interests of the people than their own self-agrandisement, had set their hearts upon the purity of religion and morals, and so went to work to attain these ends as best they could. The fundamental principle upon which they acted, was to divide the lands into districts called parishes, sending to each a schoolmaster to teach the young, and a minister to preach the Gospel and administer its various functions. Thus at the outset Education for the, people was one noblest aims of the Reformed Kirk. This, under the blessing of God, has done more than aught else to redeem Scotland from faction, feud and blood, and raise it in the scale of civilization and consequent enterprise to the high position it has long enjoyed in the esteem of the world. This educational system was long the most perfect known, as every child in the land was entitled to education without fear, favour, or being a burden to any one.

In all history, there is nothing to equal what the Kirk of Scotland has done in this respect, and, although her parochial schools were recently taken from her at the instigation of busy-bodies and zealots, they can never rob her of this proud distinction—unless they succeed better in their attempt to burn history than they have yet done in their impious attempt to banish the Bible from the schools of Bible loving Scotland. Ah, one cannot help feeling thankful that, though the good old system is ended, the new Board School system has been forced co ‘swallow' and conform to Ciuse and wont for, doubtless, if ever it cease to feed or be fed on that diet it will forthwith. Having thus briefly noticed the origin and development of the old historical and renowned Scottish system of education, which ceased when the parish schools were handed over to the modern School Boards; I will only remark of the new one, created by Act of Parliament 1872, that it is still in its babyhood, and, though it has already been the cause of much screaming-mirth and comical-annoyance, yet one cannot help wishing it ‘health, success and long life.'

Dr Muckersy has given us the atate of education for the parish of West Calder as it was in his day. It is now my privilege to record its present phase. For this purpose, I have been favoured with the following particulars for the year 1884-5 by Mr John Mungle Jr., clerk to the School Board of the parish, which consists of seven members elected in April 1885, the election expenses being £13 14s 10d.

Educational Statistics, 1884-5.

The usual elementary branches are taught in all these schools at the following fees per Month, viz., infants or 1st standard, 10d; 2nd standard, Is; 3rd standard, 1s 2d; 4th standard, 1s 4d; 5th and 6th standards, 1s 6d. Children of school age in the parish, 1,744, of whom only 3 resort to Edinburgh schools. The school fees amounted to £821 3s 10 ; government grant, £939 1s 7d ; assesment (at 5d per £) £800—total, £2,560 5s 5d. While on the other hand, officers of the Board were paid £70; teachers’ salaries, £1,706 6s 11d; fuel, light and cleaning, £185 9s 9d, while the balance went for other incidental items.

In regard to the school at West Calder and the one at Cobinshaw, Mr Mwngle appends the following notes:—1, West Calder inspection taking place this year in January instead of February, as hitherto, the amount of grant received (£392 10s 10d), is for eleven months. 2, The average attendance at Cobinshaw appears small compared with the number on the roll; but this is accounted for by the large enrollment of pupils from Tarbrax towards the close of the school year, which did not thus affect materially the average attendance for the year.

Post Office, West Calder.
(Still Sub. Mid Calder.)

Through the street, I heard the post horn ring;
Say ! whence does this emotion spring?
My heart?
Old song.

Thirty years ago, West Calder was served by one arrival and one despatch daily ; and there was no telegraph, post office order or savings bank business attached to the duties of postmaster, the first of whom was Mr Robert Gibb, assistant to Mr A. Mungle. The duties of post-runner were performed for twenty-one years by Alexander Kelly, who came in the morning from Mid Calder, delivered the letters in West Calder and returned to Mid Calder in the evening. The advent of Mr Kelly about noon daily, was long the chief incident of the day, the premonitory sound of the long horn, which he always carried, bringing a flutter of interest to the hearts and pockets of lovers, merchants and the public in general, even the very children rejoiced at his approach and in response to the blast of his horn, encouragingly called upon him to repeat its cadence whilo they amused themselves gleefully shouting:—

Kelly, Belly, blaw the horn,
A’ the kye’s among the corn;
A’ bat the iron-taild coo,
And its mouth’s aye fu!

Mr John Mungle succeeded Mr Gibb as postmaster, but gave up the appointment in favour of Mr Thomas Thomson, inspector, who also gave it up on the introduction of the telegraph to Mr William Clarkson, by whom it was held for a few years.

About ten years ago, the post office, which had moved from house to house with the various appointments, was transferred to its present place, known as the Post Office Corner, on the appointment of Mr William Millar, who occupies the position as formerly, namely, si^-postmaster under Mid Calder.

Mails: four arrivals and four despatches in the course of the day, the business having greatly increased since the introduction of the oil trade. There is now an office at Addiewell in charge of Mr Alexander Fleming, storekeeper; one at Bells Quarry in charge of Mrs Lawrie; and one at Cobbinshaw, in charge of the station master there.


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