Probably Dr Alexander Ross, circa 1879. Single storey and attic, 4-bay former primary school and schoolhouse, with later additions and alterations. Squared and snecked rubble sandstone with long and short sandstone dressings. Long and short quoins; overhanging eaves; timber bargeboards.
S (PRINCIPAL) ELEVATION: asymmetrical; gabled entrance bay advanced to penultimate bay to left, pointed-arched doorway, 2-leaf timber door with single pane fanlight; tripartite window to ground floor of flanking bay to right; gabled bay to outer right advanced, bipartite window to ground floor, pointed-arched window centred to attic floor, window to ground floor of right return; elongated gableted tripartite window breaking eaves to bay to outer left.
E ELEVATION: asymmetrical; window to ground floor of bay to left, gabled bay advanced to right, glazed timber door to ground floor with letterbox fanlight, pointed-arched window set in gablehead; bays to outer right not seen 1999.
N ELEVATION: not seen 1999.
W ELEVATION: asymmetrical; gabled bay to right with 2 windows to centre, flanked to left by elongated bipartite window breaking eaves with gable; bay to left advanced, window off-centre to left, window to ground floor of right return, flanked by small
4-pane window, 2 gableted windows to attic floor, left return and flanking bays to left not seen 1999.
Variety of timber sash and case and some modern PVCu windows. Grey slate roof, some replacement with lead and tiled ridges. Coped gablehead and ridge stacks with octagonal cans. Cast-iron rainwater goods.
INTERIOR: not seen 1999.
GATES, GATEPIERS AND BOUNDARY WALLS: random rubble boundary wall surrounding school to N, S, E and W, with semi-circular rubble coping. 2 pairs of square-plan gatepiers to S wall with pyramidal caps and cast-iron gates.
Statement of Special Interest
According to the New Statistical Account in 1840 "few of the natives (on Barra) can either read or write" (p216), and three schools, rather than the existing one, would be required to improve the state of education. It seems likely that this improvement, and the building of Castlebay Primary School, did not come until some 30 years later, following the
Elementary Education Act, 1870, where public, rather than private, money was used to provide schools and a basic level of education throughout the country. Dr Alexander Ross (1834-1925) an architect practising in Inverness and the surrounding area produced model designs and plans for schools which were then carried out, under his supervision, by the
Education Department. One of the most interesting features of Castlebay School is its boundary wall, said to have been laid out in the early 19th century to enclose exactly one
acre of land. The reason for this was that records of the size of local crofts were being made, so the residents needed to know what an acre looked like.