Free Church School

We are hoping that what follows is accurate but as always please be in touch if you can help us with any information.

Lord and Lady Murray, who lived in Strachur Park from 1838 – 1862 allowed the Free Church people to use a barn in Clachan, for meetings. It was known as ‘Murray’s Barn’ and was immediately adjacent to Strachur Churchyard. In 1844 the Rev. William Lauder became the Free Church minister and after a public meeting  in Murray’s Barn, Mr Lauder travelled to Edinburgh to petition for a Free Church School. Agreement was reached on a site between Tombuidhe and Glensluain and the new Free Church School at Balliebeg opened with 15 scholars on 22nd May 1848. James Kerr was appointed as school master on a salary of £20 per year.

‘Murray’s Barn’ is probably the one in Fergusson’s yard, SE of the Parish Church. Both this barn and the building to the NW of the Parish Church seem to have been connected to the Old Inn but presumably Lord Murray had the use of the one SE of the Church while living at Strachur Park. The building to the NW of the church was probably a coach-house and stable with a hay loft above used by the Old Inn.


Subsequent to James Kerr, Peter Munro became the next school master in 20th May 1850 and Archibald Weir is noted as School master in both the 1861 and 1871 census. He was 27 and lived in Clachan in 1861 and by 1871 he was at Ardendarroch Cottage

TBS1-005 Formerly the Old Inn Coach house and Stable with hay loft above, features on a plan of 1804


From  Durisdeer and Castleton to Strachur – Robert Anderson : A Farm Diary by Innes Macleod and Margaret Maxwell

Census records


SDLHS research

Local knowledge suggests this photo is of The Old Barn mentioned in the poem below – was this used as a Free Church School subsequent to the school at Balliebeg? The poem mentions Betty at the Bridge and we know from census records that Betty was living at Strachur Park between 1848-1871(see our page on Betty Jenkins Bridge). Betty Jenkins Bridge

Please let us know if you can add any information for this page.

The Barn, The Square, Strachur

Our Youthful Days or the Old Barn School

Let us recall to memory, our merry youthful days,
When we ran about the Burnies, and the heather covered Braes,
For playing on the hillside, and our splashing in the pool,
Made our youthful days quite happy, at the Old Barn School.

In fancy we may see ourselves assembled there again,
Each with a book, or copy, or in our hand a pen,
The Master glides among us, by his side the spanking tool,
An emblem of order, in the Old Barn School.

If the Master chanced to leave us, we would romp around the floor,
While he perchance was watching through the keyhole in the door,
And with a castigation rewarded our misrule,
Yet our youthful days were happy in the Old Barn School.

Through the window at the back we have often made a row,
And set the dogs a barking with their bow, wow, wow!
Then we’d turn round to our lessons, collected, calm and cool.
As if there were no kennels near the Old Barn School.

All playthings seen at school hours, were made forfeit in the Drawer,
Tops and Dolls and Jewish Harps, and pocket knives galore,
Then not until vacation time or the holidays at Yule,
Would they return to ownership, in the Old Barn School. And when released at mealtimes, we would hurry to the Brae,
To play our games and frolics in the glorious sunny day,
But often had to scamper off when our hearts with joy were full,
For disturbing “Phelak’s” Oschin at the Old Barn School.

Sandy with his Cuddy and Betty at the Bridge,
Jock and Jean, beside us, and Old Campbell at the Lodge,
Knew well we meant no harm, though with them we played the fool,
Twas only youthful sporting at the Old Barn School.

But now these days are gone with their pleasures rich and rare,
And in their stead the days have come of toil and anxious care,
Some schoolmates too have gone to rest whilst others strive to pull
Their weak craft through life’s Ocean from the Old Barn School.

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