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The year was around 1950 when I remember Mr George Mackenzie as a tall. stern-looking man. striding along the corridor into the Hall for Assembly, his robes flapping and a sheaf of papers under his arm. He was the holder of a decoration from WWI. the Military Cross I think, and when we discovered this we tried to see him through different eyes. as a dashing young officer performing a deed of bravery but it didn't work. He was always referred to as Mr Mackenzie or the Rector and treated with the utmost respect.
Miss Smith - Madam - is the first lady teacher I recall and she was very worthy of her name! The Head Teacher of French, she was a strict disciplinarian and a hard task master (or mistress!) with French verbs and pronunciation. Her very presence in the corridors seemed to strike everyone dumb. Her eyes darted everywhere as she slowly strolled along and if you accidentally caught her eye you fell very. very guilty. All this seemed to improve your accent as she certainly got results, but how would she fare with some of today's pupils?
The girls P T teacher. Miss Burt. looked sweet and petite when she was demonstrating some graceful gymnastic action but on [he hockey Field she could outrun everyone else and bellow encouragement or reprimand so loudly it was not like the same person. She was a most understanding lady. an excellent guidance teacher, very proud of her hockey teams and if you were picked it had to be a very good reason to be excused. There were at least two girls who went on to play for Scotland so P L had reason to think highly of her hockey teams as well as her rugby ones. The boys owed Miss Burt thanks too when it came near Christmas and the inevitable practice for the school dances started - how patient she was. What came quite naturally to girls seemed to make the majority of the boys grow more and more clumsy as she battled with them. The one-two-three of the waltz was bad enough but when it came to the pas-dc-bas. it was a disaster! One year the story went around that Miss Burt had forbidden girls to wear patent leather shoes as boys would see the colour of our underwear in the reflection! Not many had patent shoes but I think we were innocent enough to believe it. She helped boys and girls alike with some form of the social graces of the time and was much liked and respected.
Another teacher interested in sport was Mr Scott of the Science Department. When Sports Day drew near and keen competitors were practising in the lunch break he would sometimes wander out and stand watching. A few of the older boys knew of his interest and would persuade him to demonstrate the long jump. He took off his jacket which they held while he rolled up his shirt sleeves. He was a very tall, thin man with long legs and it was quite a sight to see him setting off at speed, pounding down the grass with wide trouser-legs flapping and then take off and cover an enormous length over the sand. He had been a keen sportsman in his youth and still hankered after it. Apparently, he was also a brilliant mathematician but took his First love. Science, as his subject. A very gentle man, he spent a lot of time explaining his experiments in easy terms and almost seemed astonished himself at the miracles of science. I must add that his nickname was "Schnozzle" for obvious reasons but was always spoken of with great fondness.
The next teacher was also held in affection. Miss McLeod or "Rosebud" because of her rosy checks and gentle manner. She was just about to retire when I first knew her but that did not make her any less enthusiastic in passing on her great knowledge of shorthand, typewriting and book-keeping. The First lesson in shorthand amazed me as we were writing simple strokes to dictation by the end of it. This was long before the more modern methods of teaching Pitman's appeared and it was all the more surprising as she was very old-fashioned in outlook and dress. She organised the Scripture Union, holding meetings in the lunch break and it had quite a strong membership for a time but faded when she retired.
My next recollection is of sister and brother. Miss and Mr Penman. Jocky P is probably the more familiar one to Prestonpans as he lived at Gardiner Terrace with his wife and family. Cynthia and David. He was head of the Mathematics Department and was very much aware of his duty to bring all the 'A' stream classes up to a high standard. He did not take it kindly when we Commercial girls joined his elite for arithmetic and came out on top. This happened partly because Miss Penman took our Commercial Arithmetic class and the contents overlapped a bit!
Miss Penman was a brilliant teacher. She took quite a number of different classes. English. Geography, but it was in Mathematics she excelled. I don't know how many have mentioned over the years of their debt to her and talked of her patience and perseverance in getting over what. to some. was a very. very difficult subject. This era was long before one-to-one was known but she practised this with any who needed a little extra tuition and encouragement and such was her teaching ability no other pupil suffered neglect from it. When Ross High opened she moved there as Lady Superintendent and was a great success. She certainly deserved the position.
Another lady teacher was Miss Porteous of the Science Department. Puggie and she will be remembered by many as rather eccentric. She would stride around, taking long steps and peer at your work as she seemed to be short-sighted. Her moods varied a lot and would swing from friendliness to intolerance but she lived for her science. She loved to show how ordinary things worked and each year had a tank of tadpoles to grow into frogs. One year, so I've been told. some acid was poured into the tank and poor Puggie could not understand why there were no frogs. I don't think she ever found out it was human error and not the fault of nature or science. I cannot remember who the boy in question was but two were mentioned, one became a G P and the other a Headmaster!
My last memory is of Dr Allatt who had no nickname but should have been called Mr Music. He was totally devoted to his subject and must have often felt he had a thankless task trying to instil a love of music into his pupils but he did manage it with a few of us! We may not have been able to play any instruments but the enthusiastic way he spoke and played caught the imagination. He was quite short and tubby and wore pale grey spats over his boots in winter. Years later when I read of Agatha Christie's detective, Hercule Poirot, Dr AlIan immediately came to mind as they seemed to have quite a lot in common, not least that they did not suffer fools gladly!
In the music room there was an upright piano on wheels and. therefore, it was a little unsteady on the knotted wooden floor. Occasionally, trying to illustrate his point, he would thunder out a piece of music with his short stubby fingers and how he made that piano rock - and this was long before rock 'n' roll! He was a magnificent musician and impressed us all with his performance, especially if he played on Preston Church organ. His rendering of "Jerusalem" was unforgettable. One piece which he insisted that absolutely everyone learned, whether they knew Latin or not. was the school song "Gaudeamus" and if I hear it on television or radio I'm immediately taken back to the Assembly Hall at Prizegiving time.
Music was like Art in those days. It was not a subject which brought much fame or prestige to Preston Lodge so just as Mr Stevenson, the Art teacher, would appreciate the reputation of John BelIany now, so. I think, would Dr Allatt be immensely proud of the present day Music Department and all its success and I hope the year 2000 pupils will look back in thirty or forty years time with the same regard for the teachers of today.

Old Preston Lodge School

Old Preston Lodge School which was destroyed by fire in 1961

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