Side Schools in Uig I: Ardbheag

From research undertaken by Maggie Smith for Hebridean Connections and the Stornoway Gazette.  See also Part II and Part III.

After the Education Act of 1872, children throughout the country were entitled to an education, and a side school could be provided in remote districts where there were at least three children; a single junior teacher, under the supervision of a village school, would teach in a building or room temporarily provided for the purpose.  If there were insufficient pupils, a single child or two would often be sent away to live with a relative to attend a village school, and occasionally a child would be ‘imported’ to a remote district to make up numbers.  In Uig, there were side schools at Ardbheag, Morsgail and Scaliscro, attached to Lochcroistean School, and at Linshader, attached to Breasclete School.  The Hamnaway sides school was attached to Mangersta, and the Luachair school on the Lewis-Harris border at Kinresort was under the Scarp school.

Ina Macdonald, born in 1935, went to a side school in Ardbheag, where her father was a crofter/fisherman and part-time postman.  The school was in operation from 1939 to about 1948.  Her elder sisters lodged at first with their grandparents to attend Mangersta school, but when they were four in the family a teacher was established in Ardbheag, usually a young person from Uig who had spent some years at the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway.

One of the teachers was Angus K Macdonald (Prabos) from Carishader.

At the age of fifteen in 1942 I had left the Nicolson Institute with an Intermediate Certificate.  The headmaster at Lochcroistean School gave me a job teaching in the side school in Ardbheag.  It was ten miles from anywhere and I only stayed a year; none of the teachers stayed there for very long.

There were only two houses in Ardbheag, Iain Macdonald’s and his mother’s house.  I lived with the Macdonald family and the attic was the school room.  I had a curriculum outline and followed it faithfully; classes began at nine, one hour for lunch and the day finished at four o’clock.  When I wasn’t teaching I helped the family with the croft work, and sometimes to pass the time on a Saturday, I took on Iain Macdonald’s job as postman.

At the end of my year there Christina the eldest daughter sat and passed the qualifying exam and she went to continue her studies in Morsgail.