Nostalgia: Gillespie’s leading role

James Gillespie's High School sports day - girls with their dogs, May 1966.

James Gillespie's High School sports day - girls with their dogs, May 1966.

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WELL groomed and ordered to be on their best behaviour, it looked more like a scene from a dog show than a school sports day.

Four-legged friends in tow, these girls from James Gillespie’s High School enjoyed a sports day with a difference back in May 1966 when teachers allowed them to bring along their pets. As these pictures show, it was just one of many memorable occasions in the Marchmont school’s long and rich history.

Pupils at James Gillespie's High School for Girls in Edinburgh during their Founder's Day celebrations in February 1966.

Pupils at James Gillespie's High School for Girls in Edinburgh during their Founder's Day celebrations in February 1966.

James Gillespie’s hit the headlines this week when controversial plans for the school’s rebuild prompted neighbouring householders to launch a petition with the city council. Although the plans will keep the original 16th century Bruntsfield House as the centrepiece of the school, some neighbours are unhappy with the proximity of proposed sports buildings to their homes.

James Gillespie’s faced something of a rebirth back in 1966 too, when a new campus for the school – founded in 1803 – was built in Spottiswoode Street.

Architects rose to the challenge of designing a building for the 800 female students at the existing James Gillespie’s, homed at Bruntsfield House.

They grouped four new buildings around the 16th century house to create a “domestic” feel.

James Gillespie's School

James Gillespie's School

Pictured here, builders celebrated the completion in a “topping out” ceremony, toasting their work with a pint.

Their hard graft allowed Gillespie’s girls to start their first term in August 1966, although the school was officially opened some months’ later by the Queen Mother. The pupils had a state-of-the-art gymnasium, swimming pool and tennis courts in their new school – which was praised for its “warmth” and “character”.

Let’s hope the new plans fit in as well with today’s community.

Topping out ceremony at the New James Gillespie's High School

Topping out ceremony at the New James Gillespie's High School

Pupils at James Gillespie's High School arrive to start the term at their new building in Bruntsfield House in August 1966.

Pupils at James Gillespie's High School arrive to start the term at their new building in Bruntsfield House in August 1966.