Merchiston Castle School
|Motto||Ready Ay Ready|
|Type||Independent day and boarding|
|Headmaster||Andrew R Hunter|
|Deputy Headmaster||Peter Hall|
|Chairman of Governors||Malcolm Gourlay|
|Local authority||Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Education
|Staff||49 full time - 9 part time|
|Colours||Navy, red & white|
|Publication||The Merchiston Messenger
The Pringle Communicator
Merchiston Castle School is an independent school for boys in the suburb of Colinton in Edinburgh, Scotland. It has about 480 pupils and is open to boys between the ages of 7 and 18 as either boarders or day pupils; day pupils make up 35% of the school. It was modeled after English public schools. It comprises a Junior School (ages 7-13), Senior School (ages 13-16) and a Sixth Form.
In May 1833, Charles Chalmers took a lease of Merchiston Castle (the former home of John Napier, the inventor of logarithms) — which at that time stood in rural surroundings — and opened his academy, starting with thirty boys.
Over time, the number of pupils grew and the Merchiston Castle became too small to accommodate the school. In 1930, the governors decided to move the school to Colinton House four miles south-west of Edinburgh in Colinton.
Three years later, in 1933, Merchiston celebrated its centenary, attended by the Duke and Duchess of York. Fifty years on, in 1983, at a time of further expansion and with 350 boys on the roll, their daughter, now Queen Elizabeth II, visited the school for its 150th anniversary.
In 2013 82% of pupils achieved between A* and B at A-level.
Sports and games
A range of sports and activities is available at the school; particularly in rugby union, which over 60 Merchistonians have played at international level. The now defunct Merchistonian Football Club for former pupils of the School was a founder member of the Scottish Rugby Union and was involved in the very first rugby international, supplying three players. The former 1st XV coach, Frank Hadden, who was at the school from 1983-2000, was the head coach of the Scottish national team from 2005-2009. The school has won the Scottish Schools U18 Rugby Cup five times; 1998, 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2008. Merchiston also participates, with the Edinburgh Academy, in the oldest continuous rugby union fixture in the world, the first being on 11 December 1858.
Merchiston Castle's facilities include a swimming pool, a library, an arts centre, a theatre block and a sports hall.
The houses are:
- Pringle House
- Pringle Centre
- Chalmers West
- Chalmers East
Notable former pupils and staff
Former pupils are known as Merchistonians.
- Sir Donald Acheson - Chief Medical Officer to the Government from 1984-1991
- Air Marshal Sir John Baird - Surgeon General UK Armed Forces 1997-2000
- Sir Peter Burt - Governor & Chief Executive of Bank of Scotland from 1996 to 2001, Former Chairman of ITV
- John James Cowperthwaite - Financial Secretary of Hong Kong from 1961 to 1971.
- The 1st Viscount Craigavon, the first Prime Minister of Northern Ireland from 1921 - 1940
- Samuel Cunningham, businessman and Senator of the Parliament of Northern Ireland, 1921–1945
- William Lovat Fraser, international cricketer and rugby union footballer.
- Louis Leisler Greig - royal equerry and prominent member of Fascist January Group
- Lord Laidlaw - Scottish businessman, and Former member of the House of Lords.
- John MacGregor - Former UK Cabinet minister
- Sir David Milne-Watson, 1st Baronet, Businessman
- William Grant Stairs - Canadian explorer, soldier, and adventurer.
- Charles Wyville Thomson - professor of zoology and chief scientist on the Challenger expedition.
- James Wilson Robertson, former Governor-General of Nigeria.
- The Hon. Lord Robertson TD, a Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland, 1966-87. He was also chairman of the Merchiston Board of governors between 1970 and 1996.
- Danny Bhoy - Comedian
- George Baillie Duncan, evangelical minister and conference speaker
- Sir James Marjoribanks, career diplomat who presented Britain's successful application to join the European Community in 1967
- Halliday Sutherland, doctor and author
International rugby union footballers
Merchiston has produced international rugby union footballers for Scotland, for Ireland and for England. These include Roger Baird, Iain Fullarton, Phil Godman, Duncan Hodge, John Jeffrey, Craig Joiner, Jamie Mayer, William Neilson, Thomas Anderson, Peter Walton.
- Hely Hutchinson Almond - one of the umpires of the first rugby international between Scotland and England in 1871
- Frank Hadden - former head coach of the Scottish national rugby union team 2005-2009
- Kenneth Houston - International rugby union player for Ireland
- Arnold Spencer-Smith taught here at the beginning of the twentieth century. He lost his life exploring the Antarctic
Notes and references
- Merchiston Castle School. "Why Merchiston? History, Traditions & Ethos. Educating boys for over 175 years". Retrieved 8 June 2011.
- "Merchiston Castle School". Scottish Places. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "James Rainy Brown". Herald Scotland. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Merchiston marks the arrival of Prince George". 14 November 2013. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- "Merchiston Castle". Tatler Schools Guide 2014. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- Alex Gordon. "The first international rugby match". Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Rugby Football History. "Historical Rugby Milestones 1870s". Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- Schools Rugby. "Scottish Schools Competitions". Retrieved 8 June 2011.
- Chris Thau. "The oldest running rugby fixture in the world". Retrieved 8 August 2011.
- "Key fact Sheet". Merchiston Castle School. Retrieved 29 March 2014.
- Official School Website
- Profile on the ISC website
- UK Boarding Schools Guide Profile
- Merchiston Castle School's page on Scottish Schools Online