Former Royal High pupils reunite to mark fifty-year milestone

Fifty years ago, they were among the first students to arrive on campus at a renowned city institution. Now, they have reunited to recreate that '¨moment.

Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 6:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 24th April 2018, 9:26 am
Alan Blyth and Keith MacConnachie posed to recreate a photograph taken fifty years earlier. Picture: Ian Georgeson

The Royal High School is celebrating 50 years at its Barnton site, having left Regent Road which housed the school for around 140 years.

The relocation was a momentous occasion with around 725 boys moving to the brand new building. Now half a century later, the school has a number of events to celebrate this 

Alan Blyth and Keith MacConnachie were among the first students to have a look around their new campus when they were invited on April 24, 1968 while it was still under construction.

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Alan and Keith recreated this photograph taken 50 years ago.

During their tour they were snapped by an Evening News photographer and now 50 years on the former Royal High pupils have been reunited to recall their fond memories of the school. Keith, 62, who went on to become a solicitor after studying law at university, said: “I do have a memory of Alan and I being brought in a car here by the Evening News photographer and reporter.

“I haven’t seen Alan since I left the school at the end of S4 because I moved to Blairgowrie. We were all excited to go to the ‘big school’. It was a brand new building and everything was fantastic. It was a new experience starting off at the bottom in S1.”

The men met again on 
Friday, alongside others from their year, to mark the special milestone and it was the first time Alan had stepped through the school’s doors since 1974 after going on to have a distinguished career in America.

His Royal High School education led him to a degree in physics from Edinburgh University before earning a PhD in physics from Manchester University.

Alan Blyth with Marcus McDougall, Blanca Binny and Keith MacConnachie. Picture: Ian Georgeson

Atmospheric physicist Alan Blyth, 62, said: “When we came here it was amazing, it was a big school and brand new and all kinds of exciting things. It was a great time, one of the happiest I’ve had. I’m based in Leeds now at the National Centre for Atmospheric Science.

“They were wonderful teachers and it was a great environment – both social life and academically. It felt like it was a privilege. A lot of my friends were there and I met a lot of new people.”

The school’s famous alumni include Ronnie Corbett, Sir Walter Scott and Alexander Graham Bell. The next generation
will be making their way through the old doors in August, on the 50th anniversary.

Budding teacher Blanca Binney and wannabe footballer Marcus McDougall, both 11, represented the future of the Royal High School when they join in August from Clermiston Primary.

Alan and Keith recreated this photograph taken 50 years ago.

The school plans to host a number of anniversary events including a gala dinner in June, sponsored walk and procession in October and a Captains’ dinner in November.

Pauline Walker, rector, said: “It’s really huge. I think it’s important for the current pupils to understand the history of the school.

“We have had lots of famous former pupils and it was great to see them alongside the students who will join in August.

“These celebrations are really going to bring the whole community together to show there is something special at this school. It also shows the current crop of students just how special they are.”

Alan Blyth with Marcus McDougall, Blanca Binny and Keith MacConnachie. Picture: Ian Georgeson