Kelso High School memories are brought to book

From left, Linda White, Hilda Adams, Evelyn Oliver, Charlie Robertson and Neil Hastie.
From left, Linda White, Hilda Adams, Evelyn Oliver, Charlie Robertson and Neil Hastie.

Some say your schooldays are the best days of your life – and the memories of almost 150 former and current Kelso High School pupils, gathered together in a book about its old Bowmont Street home, appear to back up that theory.

The brainchild of former school rector Charlie Robertson and the product of almost a year’s work, the book, called Kelso High School Memories 1939-2017, was launched last Friday.

2011 Laddie Phil Hume with 2006 Laddie Andrew haig and 2002 Laddie Scott McKenzie.

2011 Laddie Phil Hume with 2006 Laddie Andrew haig and 2002 Laddie Scott McKenzie.

Charlie, rector from 1999 to 2011 and principal teacher of history at the school from 1979 to 1998, headed up a group of volunteers at the school’s archive group to create the 220-page collection of memories and photographs.

He said: “There was a group of us, and what we wanted to do was a series of things to commemorate the closure of the old building, which was very popular in Kelso.

“We had an exhibition, open day and so on, then we thought it would be good to ask former pupils and staff to record their memories.

“We thought it would be relatively quick and easy, but that’s not how it turned out.

“We generated an enormous amount of material, and to just put it away in an archive would have been a great shame, and so our plan for an 80-page booklet, ready in time for the closure, grew and grew until it was three times bigger.”

The £10 book is a joint effort by the archive group, Kelso Connections and Kelso Heritage Society.

The finished product features memories from 146 contributors of all ages and details of trips, teachers, traditions and changes over the years.

It was launched at a reception in Kelso Town Hall on Friday evening, coinciding with the opening of a three-day exhibition there charting the history of education in the town created by the heritage society.

The listed building, currently for sale, closed its doors for the last time in November after pupils moved into its £22.5m replacement at Angraflat Road.

The weekend-long exhibition was formally opened by Kelso Laddie Sean Hook, and Kelso High’s headteacher of the last three years, Jill Lothian, proposed a toast.

She said: “When I took up my post at the school three years ago, I knew even then that it was going to be quite a historic time for the school and the town.

“I am very grateful to Colin and his team for keeping these memories alive and for really involving the school. It’s really brought home the importance to me of keeping the archive going so that there’s the same wealth of photographs and information, perhaps for version two of the book.”

A loan covered printing costs for a 1,000-copy run, and any profits made from sales of the book will be donated to the school’s Tom McConnachie Fund.

Charlie added: “It has been a wonderful experience and a tremendous legacy to leave behind.

“It was an awful special place, and we hope that this book will form a fitting tribute to it.

The book, also including 250 illustrations, is available now in shops around Kelso, Yetholm and Morebattle.