JG Trust & Alumni News

Women’s Liberation: 50 Years On – Evening Celebration
Friday, June 21:  5.30pm – 7.00pm Event poster

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Women’s Liberation Conference that was held at James Gillespie’s High School in Edinburgh in 1974, an important part of the history of the Women’s Liberation Movement in Scotland as well as Edinburgh’s local history. 
To celebrate this important milestone, GENDER.ED, the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities (IASH) and Women’s History Scotland are leading and facilitating a workshop for the students of James Gillespie’s High School on 21 June, which will be followed by an evening celebration event that you are all invited to! 
This event takes place from 5.30pm – 7.00pm at James Gillespie’s High School and will include a reception, as well as a panel discussion focusing on Legal and Financial Independence of Women. 
For further information and to register, please visit the link here. We hope you can join us! 

Website update – 5 May

This website is constantly evolving. The last few days have seen the addition of more school magazines and school photographs, some photographs from the April ‘Gillespie Gathering’, and news of the renaming of one of the paths on Bruntsfield Links in memory of Eric Liddell. If anyone has photographs from the ‘Gathering’ or other school related events we would be delighted to receive them.

‘Gillespie Gathering’ – Sat 27 April

Thank you to all 66 former pupils who attended the fantastic ‘Gillespie Gathering’ on Saturday 27 April. It was wonderful to see such a large turnout of alumni all enjoying the old school magazines, photographs and other memorabilia, and catching up with former school friends and making new friends. We are are also indebted to Olga Wojtas for her most interesting and entertaining talk. Special thanks to Olga. Thank you too to all those who brought along photographs and memorabilia to donate to the archive and to those who have, following the event, sent in applications to join our membership list. We are always happy to welcome new members especially from leavers from the 70s, 80s, 90s, 00s and 2010s. Our next alumni event is on Saturday 5 October in the afternoon and we look forward to another amazing day of reminiscences and catch-up for all JGHS alumni who are able to come along. Keep an eye on the website for further details later in the summer.

Thanks to JGTrustee Bruce Crawford for taking this group photo.
More photographs of the event can be found on the Alumni Reunions and Meetups page

March Newsletter update

New page: School magazines and photographs

A new page has been added with selected school magazines, concert programmes and session information. On this page will also be added group photographs (some with names) and school photographs as they become available.

National Women’s Liberation Movement Edinburgh Conference 50th Anniversary Commemoration Event

In 1974 the National Women’s Liberation Movement held their annual conference in Edinburgh and at James Gillespie’s High School. This conference may have been attended by pupils from JGHS. There are plans for a 50th Anniversary celebration this year on the evening of 21st June 2024. Arrangements are still at the planning stage and more information will be posted here in due course.

Spring Appeal for School Memorabilia

As we are now into April and the season of ‘Spring cleaning’ and computer ‘housekeeping’, we are appealing for any items of James Gillespie’s school memorabilia that you might be willing to donate to James Gilliespie’s Trust Alumni archives. We would be delighted to hear from you with as much information as possible about the items concerned.

Our archives contain photographs, school magazines, trophies, awards, certificates, badges, uniforms and miscellaneous items. Of particular interest to the Alumni team are school magazines, programmes and photographs from the 1970s to the present day . With the move from paper copies to digital, much of this memorabilia has moved onto phones and computers and can easily get lost over the years. The Alumni team are happy to accept digital photos, scans of documents, videos, recordings as well as physical items that will add to our archives. (However, we already have some blazers, scarves, ties and hats and we are not looking for any more at this time!)

Physical items that you are willing to donate can be brought along to the ‘Gillespie Gathering’ on 27th April, sent to the school at 120 Warrender Park Road, Edinburgh EH9 1DD, marked clearly for the JGTrust Alumni Section, or it may be possible to arrange for collection from a local address. Digital items can be sent to alumni@jamesgillespiestrust.com Thank you.

Alumni Events 27th April 2024

Two important alumni events are taking place on Saturday 27th April.

In the morning the ‘Gillespie Gathering’ from 10 am to 12.30 pm in the Muriel Spark Building at the school. The ‘Gathering’ is free of charge and we look forward to welcoming many former pupils to this reunion event. Gillespie Gathering Do please let us know by email if you are planning to come along. Thanks. alumni@jamesgillespiestrust.com

In the afternoon the 68-74 50th anniversary reunion from 1.30 pm to 5.30 pm. This event is for former pupils from the 68-74 cohort. 68-74 Reunion

History of James Gillespie’s (cont.)

Elaine Cochrane’s ‘History of Gillespie’s’ has now been published in full on the ‘School and its History’ page.

Alumni Newsletter – March 2024

The JG Trust Alumni Newsletter March 2024, is now available on the Trust Reports and Newsletter page

A truly High school

Chapter Four of Elaine Cochrane’s ‘History of James Gillespie’s’ has now been published on the ‘School and its History’ page. It covers the period 1914 to 1936 and identifies the start of some Gillespie traditions such as the house system and the school song. There is also a reference to James Gillespie’s being the Edinburgh school that is probably the highest above sea-level. A check of a topography map of the city confirms this. Edinburgh is built on seven hills and the area around Marchmont, Bruntsfield and Morningside, is the residential area with the highest elevation. We also know that ‘our’ school is one of the highest achieving in the city and, according to the City Council website, it has the highest notional capacity and the highest school role. A truly High school! 

History of James Gillespie’s (cont.)

Chapter Three of Elaine Cochrane’s ‘History of Gillespie’s’ is now available on the ‘School and its History’ page. The remaining Chapters 4 and 5 will be posted over the next few weeks.

Dates for your diary

Following the Alumni team meeting on Saturday, and confirmation today that the school is available on our chosen dates, we are delighted to announce that there will be two ‘Gillespie Gatherings’ this year.
The first is on Saturday 27 April 2024 in the Muriel Spark Building in the morning 10 am to 12.30 pm. Further information will be posted nearer the time. If you are going to the 1974 leavers reunion this will be held on the afternoon of the 27th at a different location.
The second is on Saturday 5 October 2024 also in the MSB but this time in the afternoon 1.30 pm to 4.30 pm. Come along, look at old school magazines, photographs, memorabilia, chat, meet your friends and former schoolmates. All welcome.
Further information will be posted in due course.

James Gillespie’s School news page

Each week JGHS Head Teacher, Neil McCallum, publishes a HT Friday update for staff, pupils, parents and carers. Some of the items are school-specific and some relate to the wider JGHS community. This new page will feature items that might be of interest to Trust members and JGHS Alumni.
James Gillespie’s School news

History of James Gillespie’s (cont.)

The Preface and Chapter Two of Elaine Cochrane’s ‘History of Gillespie’s’ are now available on the ‘School and its History’ page. The remaining Chapters 3, 4 and 5 will be posted over the next few weeks.

Ellen King at the 1924 Olympics

2024 is the centenary of the 1924 Olympic games and the Olympic debut of Gillespie’s former pupil Ellen King who was selected to represent Great Britain in the 1924 Olympic swimming team. Ellen was the youngest member of the British team at the age of 15. She went on to win numerous Scottish, European, British Empire and World medals and records and, after she turned professional in 1934, dedicated her life to swimming teaching and coaching in Edinburgh. Ellen was born in 1909 and died 30 years ago in 1994. The 1924 James Gillespie’s School Magazine features Ellen King with a photograph and some results.

Happy New Year

All very best wishes to all our readers for the coming year 2024.

We are delighted to report that, as promised, the first chapter of the History of James Gillespie’s, written in 1953 by Elaine Cochrane, has now been posted on ‘The School and its History’ page. Further chapters will be posted in due course

History of James Gillespie’s

Thank you to all who responded to the previous post regarding Elaine Cochrane. In 1953 a detailed ‘History of James Gillespie’s’ was written by Elaine Cynthia Joan Cochrane, S3, as a school essay writing project. We have now been in touch with Elaine and she has kindly given permission for her essay to be published on this website, chapter by chapter. Look out for it from January 2024.

Elaine C. J. Cochrane

I wonder if anyone knows anything about Elaine C. J. Cochrane who was in S3 in 1953 and wrote an essay about the history of the school. I cannot find any birth, marriage or death records and wonder if she may have moved abroad. Any information would be much appreciated. Thank you.

JGHS 1968-1974 Reunion

Shockingly, next year, 50 years will have passed since the 1968 S1s at James Gillespie’s High School for Girls left sixth year. An informal reunion is planned for Saturday 27th April 2024 in the afternoon, somewhere in central Edinburgh.
Planning is in the early stages but it seemed important to get a date before the festive season when people may be getting in touch, and holidays being planned.
I’m hoping to get a wee group together (maybe one from each house) to collate the names of people that are interested in finding out more and also who have contact details for others. There will be many more decisions and help needed I’m sure!
Please email me Sheila Wragg at alumni@jamesgillespiestrust.com with ‘JGHS Reunion 68-74’ in the title:

  • if you would like to be kept in touch about the reunion
  • with the names of people you have been able to pass  this information on to
  • would like to be involved in the planning (no matter how small a role you would be able to play)

Even if you can’t come, please get in touch.
Hope to hear from you and see you in April.
Best wishes, Sheila

Alumni update November 2023

As many of you may know Jean Knox stepped down earlier this month as Alumni administrator for the James Gillespie’s Trust and, on behalf of the James Gillespie’s Alumni, I would like to thank Jean for her many years of dedicated service.   
This role has now been taken over by a small team of former pupils and the new ‘James Gillespie’s Trust Alumni Team’ is having its first meeting on Sunday 3 December 2023 to discuss prospective alumni activities and events. We have some ideas, but we would very much like to garner suggestions and thoughts from our fellow alumni and invite you to let us know what kind of plans you would like to see the Alumni team developing for the benefit of our alumni and the James Gillespie’s Trust. Please let us know at alumni@jamesgillespiestrust.com   If possible by 3 December but we are always happy to hear from you with suggestions and ideas.
The James Gillespie’s Trust Alumni team maintains a database of about 1000 former pupils from the 1930s to the present day. This contact information is used with discretion to communicate about events and to facilitate communication for reunions and gatherings. If you are or if you know of former pupils who might be interested in joining the alumni database, please complete the application form on this website and/or pass on our contact details. There is no membership fee.     
We have heard that many of you already have your own groups: classmates, year groups, sports teams, friends, etc. and that some of you meet weekly, monthly, annually or for major reunions every 10 years or so. The Alumni team would like to help you find any of your friends or classmates, listed on our database, and to facilitate communication, if you so wish. We have already received two enquiries about a possible 50-year reunion next year for leavers from 1974 and, while we cannot offer to organise reunions, we are happy to help in any way we can. Do let us know if you would be interested in organising or attending such an event.   
The James Gillespie’s Trust website and Facebook pages will be undergoing some changes in the coming weeks, and we will be preparing a newsletter for circulation early in 2024.  We are excited about making contact with alumni from the primary school, the boy’s school which closed in 1973 and the High School, expanding our alumni database and to hearing from former pupils interested in the work of the Trust.   
Fiona Donaldson, on behalf of the Alumni(ae) team

Our New Alumni Team

We now have a small team of alumni who have volunteered to work together to deal exclusively with matters relating to the alumni of James Gillespie’s High School and the archives. You can find them on our About Us page and contact them at alumni@jamesgillespiestrust.com

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