School days are recalled

A back-to-the-future tale of a building which once formed part of Galashiels Academy has evoked 70-year-old memories from a former pupil.

By Paul Kelly
Wednesday, 2nd December 2020, 1:08 pm
Updated Friday, 4th December 2020, 1:50 pm
Galashiels Academy drama group outside Thorniedean HOuse in 1951, in dress rehearsal for Pygmalion.
Galashiels Academy drama group outside Thorniedean HOuse in 1951, in dress rehearsal for Pygmalion.

An application to convert category C-listed Thorniedean House on Melrose Road to a family home was agreed last month. Built in 1868 as a mill owner’s home it later formed part of both the academy and Borders College.

Its return to residential use has sparked the interest of an ex-pupil.

Stephen Bunyan, a retired teacher at Dunbar Grammar School who was awarded the MBE in 2015 for his community work, said: “I remember clearly how interested some of us were when the school acquired Thorniedean in 1949. We were allowed, or perhaps just not prevented, from exploring it. It was difficult to integrate it to the main building because of the lane which separated them. The school was already faced with a remote gym and dining hall near the railway and a large section at Roxburgh Street.”

Mr Bunyan, now 87, added: “The house was not much used at first but the senior art class was allowed to work outside in the garden, as I recollect, unsupervised. I came back for a student placement in 1958 and again to teach in 1963 but have no particular recollection of how much the house was being used then. The whole school moved to a site in the Gala House policies and the new school was formally opened by HM the Queen Mother in September 1964.

“It is amazing that after 70 years Thorniedean is to be restored as a family home.”