Fifty years ago today the very first cohort of pupils passed through the doors of the newly formed Perth Grammar School.
Occupying the temporary accommodation which was previously the home of Perth High School, the new Perth Grammar welcomed around 300 new S1 pupils onto the campus on August 24 1971.
Now, half a century and a few facelifts later, the school is marking its golden anniversary by kicking off a year of a celebrations.
“It was rickety old building”
Among the hundreds of S1 pupils who arrived through the doors on that first day was Niall McAllister – who now works as a janitor at the school.
He said: “It was a really old school – the old Perth High – which was built just at the start of the war so it was a rickety old building.
“There were portacabins outside and it was only the first years, so we were the first ones through the doors.
“Back then there were no mobile phones, nothing like that so everything is different now!”
The ‘unfit’ temporary accommodation which Niall and his peers were the first to attend was gradually replaced in a phased redevelopment completed in 1993.
Niall, who left the school in 1975, said: “I left before the new building was built so I only saw that when I came to work as a janitor
“Every now and then you remember what it was like back then.”
Another former pupil, who also works at the school and has done so for the past 25 years, is Margaret Dennis.
She has fond memories of her time of Perth Grammar – which she attended between 1973 and 1977 – and spoke of what it was like before new building was completed.
She said: “When I was a pupil it was the original old buildings and it had a big central hallway. You also had the portacabins where the languages were.
“There were also other huts where they had the science, technical and home economics departments. Now it’s a new, more modern building.”
The school has played a big part in Margaret’s life, and between being a pupil and now a staff member she sees the school as an integral part of the community.
She said: “It was strange when I first came back as some of the staff when I was a pupil were still here.
“I always liked home economics and it’s strange because my home economics teacher was then my son’s learning support teacher when he came to the school.
“It was nice meeting up with her again because she was one of the teachers I remember more. Now her son-in-law is one of the deputes!”
The school is planning to mark to half-centenary with events throughout the year, and began the celebrations on Tuesday by officially launching its very own tartan.
The tartan is based on the Fraser tartan from 1842 in honour of distinguished 19th Century graduate of Perth Grammar, William Fraser Tolmie, who was a surgeon, fur trader, scientist, politician and Hudson Bay Company officer.
Designs were voted upon by pupils and parents and that chosen features the school colours of black, gold and silver with red, blue and green bands for the house colours.
A small ceremony with current pupils and staff that were former pupils was hosted by head teacher Fiona Robertson to mark the occasion.
She said: “It’s important for a school to be able to identify with its past as well as look to the future.
“When I first took up the post here in 2016, I said in the interview that I recognised that the school would be 50 this year, so I always knew it would be really important to us.
“It’s a big thing for the school and it’s really nice to mark as we come out of the pandemic.”
The past year has certainly been the most unique in the school’s 50 year history, but with pupils back after the summer break and Covid restrictions hopefully easing for schools in the coming weeks, Ms Robertson is delighted.
She said: “I love Perth Grammar and it’s great to have our young people back. I’m thrilled to bits.
“There is a really nice atmosphere in the school. It’s calm and it’s almost as if the young people want school back in their lives.”