Alumni Archives & Memories

Snippets from the past

When the school moved from premises in Warrender Park Crescent to Lauderdale Street in 1966, some of the school records and memorabilia were destroyed. Most of the remaining school and alumni archives, including registration cards and student records, were given to Edinburgh City Archives in 2019 as part of a digitisation project. However, we still have some photographs, portraits and school magazines from 1913 to the early 1980s and a written history of the school to 1953, a selection of school trophies, uniforms, badges, and personal materials donated by former pupils. Many of these items are displayed when we have alumni gatherings and events.

From the 1924 Gillespie’s School Magazine:

30th Century – Lessons by Wireless by Jessie Henderson, Form 1B
An interesting article written one hundred years ago and envisioning the future.
Ellen King at the 1924 Olympics

Why the unicorn?

We learn from Elaine Cochrane’s ‘History of James Gillespies’ about the unicorn crest.  The Court of the Lord Lyon King of Arms calls it ‘a non-armorial device’ and not a ‘coat of arms’.  In Fairbairn’s ‘Book of Crests of the families of Great Britain and Ireland’ there is the following information: 

‘Gillespie, Scotland, a unicorn’s head argent (silver) armed (with a horn) or (gold).  Motto – ‘Fidelis et in Bello Fortis’. There is also a plate of a unicorn’s head which is almost identical with ‘our’ school badge.  The words ‘in Bello’, in the motto, were left out since they were not suitable for a school motto.  Just as a matter of interest, there was an old superstition that a unicorn’s horn was a good antidote against poison. 

Your school memories

If you have any special memories or photographs from your time at school that you would like to share with the James Gillespie’s Trust Alumni we will be happy to post excerpt(s) here and/or on the James Gillespie’s Trust Facebook page. Please get in touch. As a suggestion, what are your memories of your headteacher?

If there are any particular photos, school memories or school history references that you would like to see posted here please contact us:

Four former head teachers

Box Hats and Blue Stockings

This is a fascinating collection of memories of Gillespie Girls from the golden era of James Gillespie’s High School for girls, as it was until 1973, written by Norma Allan.  As now, the school was well-known for its high academic standards and achievements.  Packed with enthusiastic and wonderful memories, the book also has an abundance of old school photographs, as well as excerpts from the School Magazine of 1958, quotes from unforgettable teachers and, of course, the School Song!  It is available from the National Library of Scotland Shop, George IV Bridge or direct from the author (Norma Allan) at   Cost £10.00 (plus postage, if applicable). 

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