George Watson's College
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|George Watson's College|
Ex Corde Caritas
("Love from the Heart")
|Colinton Road (Merchiston)
|Established||1741 (as George Watson's Hospital)|
|Principal||Gareth Edwards, MA|
|Houses||Cockburn-Greyfriars, Lauriston, Melville-Ogilvie, Preston-Falconhall|
|School colour(s)||Maroon, white|
|Sports||Rugby, hockey, cricket, rowing, badminton, squash, football, sailing, rifle shooting, skiing, athletics, tennis, rock climbing, polo, surfing, fencing, curling.|
|Rival||George Heriot's School|
|Publication||The Watsonian, Caritas, Recorder, Tick Talk|
|School fees||£1,218 - £9,426 (2010/11)|
George Watson's College is a co-educational independent day school in Scotland, situated on Colinton Road, in the Merchiston area of Edinburgh. It was first established as a hospital school in 1741, became a day school in 1871, and was merged with its sister school George Watson's Ladies College in 1974. It is a Merchant Company of Edinburgh school.
The school was established according to the instructions of George Watson (1654–1723) who bequeathed the bulk of his fortune of £12,000 – a vast sum in 1723 – to found a hospital school for the provision of post-primary boarding education.
Watson was never a member of the Merchant Company of Edinburgh, but he was impressed by their running of the Merchant Maiden Hospital and so he chose the Company to implement the terms of his will. After some years, the Governors bought land known as Heriot's Croft, located off Lauriston Place in Edinburgh, close to the Meadows and opposite George Heriot's School, and engaged an architect. The foundation stone was laid on 22 May 1738, and the building was completed early in 1741. (At the time, there was concern that this site was too far from the city, but today it would be regarded as close to the city centre.)
The school opened as George Watson's Hospital on Whitsunday, 17 May 1741. The initial roll consisted of 11 boys, aged 9–10 years; by 1749 there were 30, while in 1842 pupils numbered 86, this figure being maintained until the end of the Hospital system in 1870.
In accordance with Watson's will, the governors were responsible for former pupils up to the age of 25; they were helped to find apprenticeships and paid an allowance. Watson's stated preference was for allowing the hospital's charges to become skilled workers, though the governors also allowed boys who showed an ability to pursue medicine or academia.
Re-establishment as a day school
By the 1860s, the hospital school system had fallen into general public disrepute, while the Merchant Company was fearful both of government intervention in the schooling system and of its own decline. The solution was to re-found Watson's, and the three other hospitals under its governorship, as day schools. In July 1868 the Company applied to Parliament for powers to reorganise their schools and make different use of their endowments to as to make education more widely available.
Watsons' was thus completely transformed, reopening on 26 September 1870 as a fee-paying day school with a roll of 800 boys, initially called George Watson's College Schools for Boys.
In 1869, the original hospital building was sold to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh. When the infirmary sought to expand in 1871, the school moved a short distance west to the former Merchant Maiden Hospital building in Archibald Place. The original hospital building was incorporated into the infirmary, and the chapel remained in use as the hospital chapel until the infirmary was itself moved away. The remains of the building were demolished in 2004 during the redevelopment of the infirmary site by the Quartermile consortium, which also redeveloped the site of the Archibald Place buildings, which had in turn been demolished in the 1930s after the school moved to its present site.
In the years following World War I, the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary needed to expand once more and was interested in the site then occupied by Watson's. At the same time, the Archibald Place building was cramped and in need of modernisation, as well as being distant from the school's playing fields at Myreside. In 1924 the Merchant Company announced that they had taken the decision to sell the Archibald Place building to the Infirmary for a "fair" price.
In 1927, agreement was made to acquire the site of Merchiston Castle School – adjacent to the Myreside playing fields – and a competition was held to design the new school building. The winner was announced in June 1928 as James B Dunn, himself a Watsonian, with a plan described as "simple, direct and masterly".
Building work on the new site commenced in August 1929. The new building, facing Colinton Road, was in a neo-classical style and sandstone-faced. It is H-shaped, extending over two stories, with a large central Assembly Hall which seats up to 1835.
The new building was completed in 1932. It was opened on 22 September by HRH Prince George (later Duke of Kent).
Adjacent to the main building is the PE block, featuring gymnasia and a swimming pool, and also the school boiler house with its large chimney. Beyond the PE block is the Elementary building (now Upper Primary).
The Golden Jubilee of the creation of the 1932 buildings fell in 1982, and was marked by a number of celebrations. These culminated on 29 June by a visit from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth. The Queen spent two hours touring the campus, including a short concert, and she unveiled a commemorative plaque.
George Watson's Ladies College
The reforms, which saw the hospital's transformation into a day school, also saw the Merchant Company wish to open a school for girls. In July 1868, the Company applied to Parliament for powers to reorganise their schools and make different use of their endowments to as to make education more widely available.
In February 1871, the Company took over the lease of Melville House in George Square, Edinburgh and used it as the location of the nascent George Watson's College Schools for Young Ladies. It was renamed to George Watson's College for Ladies in 1877, and to George Watson's Ladies College in 1890.
In 1967, the Merchant Company announced its plan to combine the two Watson's Colleges to form a single co-educational campus in Colinton Road. Building work was required to house the combined school. The main building was expanded with further science labs; the PE block grew a covered Games Hall; a new "Design Centre" was built to house art, technical and home economics departments; and a new Lower Primary building (for primary 1-3) was built adjacent to the existing Elementary (Junior School) building.
The first joint assembly of the amalgamated school was held on 1 October 1974. The school found itself in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest co-educational school in Scotland, with a roll of over 2,400 pupils.
Since then the school has remained co-educational, and now serves day pupils only; previously various boarding houses were maintained from time to time in the Tipperlinn Road area, and on-campus at New Myreside House.
Each autumn a group of students at George Watson's College attend The Harley School in Rochester, New York for two weeks, during which they are hosted by the families of Harley students. The Harley partners are then sent to Edinburgh for two weeks during the spring to live with their hosted Watson's students.
George Watson's College Centre for Sport was the result of a 6-year major refurbishment of existing sport facilities. This was the largest capital project undertaken by the school in over 70 years.
The Murray Family Pavilion was opened in January 2006 as Phase 1 of the redevelopment. It consisted of new changing rooms at the Myreside playing fields. Phase 2 - a new multi purpose sports hall located next to the existing PE building - was completed in January 2008.
In early 2009, the school took the decision to delay work on the final phase of the redevelopment, owing to the economic downturn. Work on Phase 3 - a full refurbishment of the existing PE building - began in July 2010. Flagship points of the redevelopment were the Ergo gym and a new social area to be known as The Hub which was designed to provide a view over the refurbished swimming pool. The modern fitness room was to be situated in the fully rebuilt central section of the existing building. Other facilities in the building were also to be remodelled and relocated.
The final phase was completed in May 2012 and the Centre for Sport was opened to the public shortly after by former pupil Sir Chris Hoy.
Pupils at the school are separated into four groups, known as "houses", a practice common in many British schools. Originally, the Boys' and Ladies' colleges had their own sets of houses, which were merged when the school amalgamated in 1974. The houses are:
- Cockburn Greyfriars
- Preston Falconhall
- Melville Ogilvie
The school operates a house competition where members can earn house points through participation in various sporting and other events including dance, choir, cinema, general knowledge and drama. They can also be awarded points for participating in and winning various sports events held within the school including house rugby, badminton and football. The first event in the academic year where House points can be earned is the longest indoor golf chip competition (affectionately known as the '9-iron blooter'), and the final event is the annual Sports Day. The pupil heads of the winning house are awarded a trophy at the school's annual prize-giving ceremony.
Sports and affiliations
Sport plays a significant part in the life of the school.
The main sports of the school are rugby and hockey for boys, and hockey for girls. The school also regularly competes in many athletics, tennis and alpine events.
In 2007, the U15 Rugby Team won the Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup. They beat Edinburgh Academy 12-5 in the final. The school won the cup again in 2008. They beat George Heriot's 7-5. While being recognised as a bastion of Scottish rugby, the 1st XV took 10 years to win the U18 Brewin Dolphin Scottish Schools Cup.
The school is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.
George Watson's College Pipes and Drums
George Watson's College Pipes and Drums is a very successful pipe band affiliated with the school. It is regarded as one of the best juvenile pipe bands in the world, and has had much success in competitions. They have played abroad several times, as well as playing at the 2009 Edinburgh Military Tattoo.
- Sir Eric Anderson, KT, provost of Eton College
- Ian Anderson, MBE, musician with Jethro Tull
- The Very Reverend David Arnott, Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland for 2011–2012
- Peter Baikie, Scottish comedian and composer
- Martin Bell, skier, and four times participant of the Winter Olympics
- Sir Robert Brown (Robin) Black, GCMG, Governor of Hong Kong, 1958-64
- Douglas Percy Bliss, painter
- Colin Boyd, Baron Boyd of Duncansby, PC, QC, Lord Advocate, life peer in the British House of Lords
- Kate Clanchy, writer
- Gillian Cooke, athlete and bobsledder
- John Corrie, politician, MP, MEP
- Finlay Currie, actor
- David Daiches, Scottish literary historian and literary critic
- Jack Docherty, Scottish writer, actor, presenter and producer.
- Jamie Drummond, Edinburgh-born Canadian sommelier and amateur dramatist.
- Donald Runnicles, noted conductor
- Sir John Charles Fenton, lawyer, Solicitor General for Scotland
- Jimmy Finlayson, actor
- Jo Fraser, Painter
- Keith Fraser (skier), Olympic Athlete 1992
- David Maxwell Fyfe, Viscount Kilmuir, Barrister, Home Secretary and Lord Chancellor
- Frances Guy Diplomat (British Ambassador to the Yemen and Lebanon)
- Gavin Hastings, OBE, rugby player
- Scott Hastings, rugby player
- Robert Horne, 1st Viscount Horne, Chancellor of the Exchequer
- Sir Chris Hoy, MBE, Six-time Olympic gold medal winning track cyclist
- Moray Hunter Scottish comedian, writer and performer.
- David Johnston International rugby player and professional footballer (Heart of Midlothian)
- Martha Kearney, BBC broadcaster and journalist
- Malcolm Martineau, pianist and recital accompanist
- Keith Moffatt, physicist
- Ronald King Murray, PC, politician and judge, (Labour Party)
- Myles MacInnes (known as Mylo), singer-songwriter, music producer, and DJ
- Keith McIvor (known as JD Twitch) music producer, and DJ
- Paul Nuki Chief Editor at NHS Choices.
- Ian R. Porteous, mathematician
- Hugo Rifkind,journalist
- Sir Malcolm Rifkind, KCMG, QC, politician (Conservative Party)
- Henry Peel Ritchie, First World War Victoria Cross recipient
- Ian Robertson, Rugby Union player and commentator
- Gerald Russell, Professor of Psychiatry
- Chris Smith, Baron Smith of Finsbury, PC, former British MP and Cabinet minister (Labour Party)
- Elizabeth Smith, MSP
- Robin Smith, mountaineer
- Sir Basil Spence, architect
- David Steel, Baron Steel of Aikwood, KT, KBE, PC, politician (Liberal Democrats), MP, former leader of the Liberal Party
- Tun Dato' Sir James Beveridge Thomson, KBE, SSM, PMN, PJK, lawyer and judge, Chief Justice of the Federal Court of Malaysia.
- Craig Sutherland, professional footballer
- George Pirie Thomson, naval officer and Britain's Chief Press Censor in WWII
- Joseph Wedderburn, mathematician
- Rebecca West, writer and campaigner
- Robin Williamson, musician with The Incredible String Band
- Jason White, rugby player
- Christopher Wood, painter
- John Howard Wilson, International Rugby Player
- Stan Paterson, glaciologist
- John Steele (oceanographer)
- Sir John Anderson, 1st Viscount Waverley, Home Secretary, Lord President of the Council, Chancellor of the Exchequer
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