Planasker School (1880-1973) served the families of Marvig and Calbost and replaced an earlier thatched building on the foreshore. The ruins of this original school can still be seen in the undergrowth just below the newer school. Prior to the establishment of the new school there was some education offered in Marvig courtesy of the Gaelic School Society.
The new school building dates back to the late 1870s and is now a listed building which has been extensively restored by the current owners. At the time seven schools were built by contractors from Skye all to a similar design. Ballachulish slate came in by sea and there is still some left over on a small island in the bay. The school has a bell tower but the bell is no longer in place.
One of the first headmasters was a William Kerr and the area was known as Ard Alasker. Kerr was know for his plans, including one to build a channel close by, and the name Planasker is sometimes held to have referred to “asking Kerr about his plans”. The name appears to predate his arrival in Marvig, however, and Angus ‘Ease’ Macleod offers a more usual explanation, namely that it derives from Blar an Eas Duibh, the plain of the black waterfall. There is an Eas Dubh nearby.
Kerr supposedly had a great sense of humour; he came from Perthshire (by way of Caithness) and had some expertise as a market gardener with some of his plants and bushes having survived to the current day. He also had a cow and geese and a parrot which used to steal from workmen working round the school.
Although Mr Kerr was believed to be a very intelligent man, he didn’t seem to pass much of it on to his pupils as they spent more time in the garden and at his boat than they did in school.
When John Macarthur (Iain Mor) took over, he asked the boys, ‘Why were all these maps on the wall?’ they replied, ‘Oh, they are just pictures’. Iain Mor was married to Mary Mackenzie (Mairi a’Cheannaich) 14 Marvig.
The last head teacher was Miss Janet MacDonald, Cromore. According to oral tradition, the first pupil to be enrolled in Planasker was Alasdair Macleod, 9 Marvig (A’ Putan).
The old school toilets are still standing complete with graffiti from years gone by. Even the old toilet roll is still on its holder. When the school was being refurbished recently some comments written by the original builders about their time in Marvig were found written on the walls. Most referred to the fact that Marvig was a very “dry” village.
The roll peaked at 120 in the 1890s and in 1953 the role was 11; in 1973 it was 12.
Teachers and Headmasters at Planasker School
Roderick Mackenzie, Assistant Teacher, Leurbost, appointed on the 23rd July 1880 at a salary of 30 per annum.
Alexander Wright, Dunbar, appointed on the 1st July 1881; resigned in September 1882.
James MacDougall, Stornoway, appointed in November 1882; Mr MacDougall had completed twenty-six years as a teacher in Stornoway and stayed for four years.
Alexander Shanks, Achmore School, appointed in August 1886; resigned in January 1888.
John Macleod, Assistant Teacher, Carloway School appointed on the 30th of March 1888; resigned in October 1888;
William Kerr, Perthshire & Caithness circa 1895-1905
Iain Macarthur (‘an Mhor) Tolstaidh Chaolais 1920-1927
Donald Macarthur, Steinish 1927-1946
Alex John Maclean, Balantrushal 1941-1946
Kenneth Macleod Coeshan, Calbost 1946-1953
Margaret Smith, Cromore 1953-1956
Janet Macdonald, Cromore 1956-1973
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