Blairmore School

Last updated

Blairmore School
Type Private
Boarding school
MottoCapta Majora
(Latin: "Strive for better things")
Age8to 13
Colour(s)Navy blue

Blairmore School was an independent boarding preparatory school in Glass near Huntly, Aberdeenshire until its closure in 1993. The site is now owned and used by a Christian organisation called Ellel Ministries International [1] as a prayer, training and healing retreat centre.

Preparatory school (United Kingdom) in the UK, school preparing children for secondary level

A preparatory school in the United Kingdom is a fee-charging independent primary school that caters primarily for children up to approximately the age of 13. The term "preparatory school" is used as it prepares the children for the Common Entrance Examination to secure a place at a private independent secondary school, including the British public schools. They are also now used by parents in the hope of getting their child into a state selective grammar school. Most prep schools are inspected by the Independent Schools Inspectorate (ISI), which is overseen by Ofsted on behalf of the Department for Education.

Huntly town in Scotland

Huntly is a town in Aberdeenshire, Scotland, formerly known as Milton of Strathbogie or simply Strathbogie. It had a population of 4,460 in 2004 and is the site of Huntly Castle. Its neighbouring settlements include Keith and Rothiemay. Both Huntly and the surrounding district of Gordon are named for a town and family that originated in the Border country.

Aberdeenshire Council area of Scotland

Aberdeenshire is one of the 32 council areas of Scotland.



Blairmore School was established in 1947 as an independent prep school for boys aged 8–13 by Colonel D.R. Ainslie D.S.O., B.A., a keen educationalist, Cambridge graduate and retired Seaforth Highlander. The school turned co-ed in 1975.

Seaforth Highlanders military unit

The Seaforth Highlanders was a historic line infantry regiment of the British Army, mainly associated with large areas of the northern Highlands of Scotland. The regiment existed from 1881 to 1961, and saw service in World War I and World War II, along with many numerous smaller conflicts. In 1961 the regiment was amalgamated with the Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders to form the Queen's Own Highlanders, which merged, in 1994, with the Gordon Highlanders to form the Highlanders. This, however, later joined the Royal Scots Borderers, the Black Watch, the Royal Highland Fusiliers and the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders to create the present Royal Regiment of Scotland.

Pupil numbers peaked at 90 in 1989 but the economic recession of the early 1990s caused a decline in UK prep school subscriptions and in June 1993, with fewer than 30 pupils enrolled for the coming academic year, Blairmore became impossible to sustain financially and the school was forced to close.


The school was small and isolated in the country. Pupils were encouraged to spend time outdoors, taking advantage of the school's extensive grounds and rural surroundings. Daily sports were an integral part of the curriculum, while Scouting and camping were a key part of Blairmore life. Blairmore had its own riding school and stables at some stage, a woodland assault course, a ski-slope and Britain's only school ski tow.

Scouting World-wide movement for the education of youth, founded by Robert Baden-Powell in 1907

Scouting or the Scout Movement is a movement with a strong focus on the outdoors and survival skills that aims to support young people in their physical, mental, and spiritual development so that they may play constructive roles in society. During the first half of the twentieth century, the movement grew to encompass three major age groups for boys and, in 1910, a new organization, Girl Guides, was created for girls. It is one of several worldwide youth organizations.

In the evenings and at weekends, the woodlands around the school provided an ideal playground for the young boys and girls. Dressed in their "Woods Clothes" (as casual clothes were known), pupils played conkers, climbed trees and constructed dens, known as "cols" (short for colonies), from which raids were launched against rival groups.

Conkers childrens game

Conkers is a traditional children's game in the British Isles played using the seeds of horse chestnut trees—the name 'conker' is also applied to the seed and to the tree itself. The game is played by two players, each with a conker threaded onto a piece of string: they take turns striking each other's conker until one breaks.


The school was divided into four houses, named after rivers in the North-East of Scotland: Deveron (red), Dee (green), Spey (yellow) and Don (blue).

Boarders slept in dormitories in the main school building, although for a period senior boys were accommodated in the neighbouring Glebe House. Dormitories were originally given simple topographical names but were later renamed with an ornithological theme. The boys' dorms included: Tower (which became Buzzard), South (Eagle), East (Harrier). The girls' dorms were: Side (Lapwing), Middle (Heron), Back (Plover). The dormitories in Glebe House were given local place names: Cairnie, Cabrach, Botriphinie.

Blairmore had its own tartan. [2]

The school had a long-standing rivalry with nearby Aberlour House. Other regular sporting opponents included Drumtochty Castle, Rannoch School, Croftinloan School, Lathallan, Gordonstoun, Peterhead Academy, Ardvreck School, Aberdeen Academy, Aberdeen Grammar School and The Gordon Schools, Huntly.

Aberlour village in Moray, Scotland

Aberlour is a town in Moray, Scotland, 12 miles (20 km) south of Elgin on the road to Grantown. A burn (stream), the Lour burn is a tributary of the River Spey, and the surrounding parish, are both named Aberlour, but the name is most commonly used in reference to the village which straddles the stream and flanks the Spey – although the full name of the village is Charlestown of Aberlour.

Drumtochty Castle

Drumtochty Castle is a neo-gothic style castellated mansion erected in the year 1812 approximately three kilometres northwest of Auchenblae, Aberdeenshire, Scotland. This castle stands on the southern edge of Drumtochty Forest. Other noted castles in Kincardineshire are Fasque House, Fetteresso Castle, Dunnottar Castle and Muchalls Castle.

Rannoch School

Rannoch School was an independent boarding school, located on the south shore of Loch Rannoch in Perth and Kinross, Scotland on the Dall Estate, 6 miles (9.7 km) from Kinloch Rannoch. Dall House served as the main school building and a boarding house.


Former pupils

Ken Ballantyne was a Scottish athlete who specialised in the mile. He represented Scotland in international competition between 1961 and 1966.

Malcolm Sinclair, 20th Earl of Caithness Scottish clan chief

Malcolm Ian Sinclair, 20th Earl of Caithness, is a Scottish Conservative politician and member of the House of Lords as one of the remaining hereditary peers. He is also 20th Lord Berriedale, 15th Baronet Sinclair, of Canisbay, Co. Caithness, Nova Scotia, and chief of Clan Sinclair. He is the Chief Executive of the Clan Sinclair Trust.

Conservative Party (UK) Political party in the United Kingdom

The Conservative Party, officially the Conservative and Unionist Party, known informally as the Tories, and historically also known as the Unionist Party, is a centre-right political party in the United Kingdom. The governing party since 2010, it is the largest in the House of Commons, with 288 Members of Parliament, and also has 234 members of the House of Lords, 4 members of the European Parliament, 31 Members of the Scottish Parliament, 11 members of the Welsh Assembly, 8 members of the London Assembly and 7,445 local councillors.

Blairmore House

Blairmore House, the former school's premises, is a Victorian country house set amid 50 acres (200,000 m2) of park and woodland beside the River Deveron, 6 miles (9.7 km) from Huntly, 40 miles (64 km) from Aberdeen and 60 miles (97 km) from Inverness. The house was designed by the architect Alexander Marshall Mackenzie [3] and was built in 1884 as a private house for Alexander Geddes, a wealthy businessman and great-great grandfather of the former British Prime Minister David Cameron. Cameron's father, Ian Donald Cameron, was born in the house in 1932. Geddes made his fortune in Chicago in the US in the trading of grain in the 1850s, and a safe belonging to him which survived the Great Fire of Chicago was installed in the house's Billiard Room. During the Second World War it served as GHQ Home Forces for some of the Auxiliary Units based in Aberdeenshire and had a training area within the grounds of the house and nearby land. Auxunit Patrols was a special force consisting of between six and eight men trained in the utmost secrecy to a high standard. In the event of a German invasion, they would go to ground and carry out a clandestine war against the occupying forces.

After the school's closure, Blairmore House was run as a private hunting lodge for several years. [4] The building is now used as a prayer and intercession training school and retreat centre run by an evangelical Christian group called Ellel Ministries. [5] [6]

Blairmore House is a Category C listed building. [7]

See also


  2. "Blairmore Corporate School Tartan". Tartans of Scotland. Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  3. "Blairmore House". Dictionary of Scottish Architects. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007. Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  4. Ross Clark (26 January 2002). "Highlands for the high life". Telegraph. Retrieved 19 February 2012.
  5. "Ellel Ministries, Blairmore House" . Retrieved 4 April 2013.
  6. "Cool-Story" . Retrieved 7 February 2009.
  7. "Blairmore House (now Blairmore School) - Glass - Aberdeenshire - Scotland". British Listed Buildings. 11 September 1984. Retrieved 19 February 2012.

Coordinates: 57°26′44″N2°56′25″W / 57.4456°N 2.9403°W / 57.4456; -2.9403

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