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Merchiston Castle School


(Colinton House)

Built in the grounds of Colinton House, which had been acquired by the school in 1924 as their original premises at Merchiston Castle (now part of Napier University) could not be extended. The school buildings comprise a classical Main Building and Memorial Hall (built in 1928) and the original Colinton House (1806), which had been built next to Colinton Castle as the new home for banker Sir William Forbes of Pitsligo, but he died just before his house was finished. Colinton Castle dates from at least the 16th Century and was home to the Foulis family. It was destroyed by Oliver Cromwell (1599 - 1654) in 1650, but repaired only to be partially demolished on the instructions of painter Alexander Nasmyth (1758 - 1801) to create a picturesque ruin.

Merchiston Castle School was founded in 1833 by Charles Chalmers, younger brother of the academic and founder of the Free Church, Thomas Chalmers (1780 - 1847). He came to live in the 15th Century Merchiston Castle, which had been home of the Napier family and established an academy there for 30 boys. One of the early pupils was David Kirkaldy (1820-97), later a noted engineer who pioneered materials testing. The move took place when permission was refused for a Memorial Hall at Merchiston. This was built at Colinton and dedicated to the memory of the 176 boys and Masters who lost their lives during the First World War.

The estate, which borders Colinton Dell and the Water of Leith, extends to some 39 ha (96 acres) and includes playing fields, buildings comprising accommodation, a swimming pool, a Library (1972), Arts Centre (1975), Theatre Block and Sports Hall (1986), in addition to the castle ruins.

Other notable pupils have included architect John Honeyman (1831 - 1914), Air Commodore Colin Simpson Cadell (1905-96) and economist Sir John Cowperthwaite (1915 - 2006).


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