686: Gravir School, Pairc

One of the earliest schools in Gravir was at what is now croft No 20. It was a black house known as "Sgoil na Leddies" and was set up in 1854, funded by the Ladies Highland Association. There is, however, reference to an earlier Gaelic school that may have been on the croft at 21 Gravir. The teachers in these early schools were Christians and the first one was Donald Macleod from Ross-shire (Coigeach) who later became a Free Church minister. He was followed by a Rev Chisholm, who was also a teacher.. He didn’t stay at Gravir for very long.

The old school building was also used as a Church before the Park Free Church was built in 1882. This building was lived in until about 1968. It was demolished recently and the stones used to make a breakwater for the main pier at Gravir.

The Education Act of 1872 heralded a change. The first meeting of a newly formed School Board was held in Soval Lodge on the 9th of April 1873 in connection with the building of new schools. Enquiries were made as to the number of pupils in each village from ages five to thirteen and Gravir’s total was 83 in 1873. (During its lifetime, the School Board was continually in financial straits. The last meeting of the Board was held in Knockiandue Primary School on the 13th of May 1919.)

The school was opened in 1881 with up to 100 pupils on the roll. It still stands and now serves as the Gravir Museum at the end of the loch.

Gravir School was a three-teacher school until the 1940s, after which it was reduced to two teachers. The pupil numbers on the roll peaked at 120 in 1917. Numbers declined after than and on at Easter 1945 the Headmaster noted in the log that school was forcibly reduced to two teachers.

On 17 June 1957 the teacher Mr Macdonald recorded in the school log:

The school gained 5 firsts (including a relay), 2 seconds and 7 thirds at the sports [Rural Interschool Sports, held in Stornoway]. This is very good considering that the only practice ground, apart from the road, is under the sea at high water.

On 8 March 1960:

Mr Leach HIMS for physical training, accompanied by Mr Young, PT Organiser for Lewis, visited the school. He was amazed at the lack of facilities.

By 1963 plans were being made to reorganise the school in Pairc. Gravir School closed in 1970 and pupils travelled to Lemreway, before the new Pairc School in Gravir opened in 1973. This now serves the whole of the Pairc area.

See also the list of teachers at Gravir, and the school pictures.

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Building or Public Amenity
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