The Next Chapter Opens – The Park Approaches

With new St John’s settling into its magnificent new building, the construction machine has started preparations for completing Treverlen Park.  As happened with old Portobello High School, the area round the main school building is being readied for clearance.  The final disconnections of services are underway and zones are marked on the former playgrounds for the various processes.

We expect the first to go will be the aluminium former nursery, built in 1949.  See our article explaining how the post war programme of aluminium buildings came about.  That corner of the site will be centre of the Sustainable Urban Drainage System to prevent water draining off the site.  It will be fed by “swales” or ditches which will run parallel to Hamilton Drive – already visible in the Phase I part of the Park behind new St John’s.

The demolition should be straightforward – the main building is brick, with concrete facings and harling.  The existing entrance to the site from Duddingston Road will remain – giving access to the park site from behind old St John’s.

Big changes to come in September.

Open on Time

The new building for St John’s Primary School opened at 8.50am on Monday 20 August 2018 as planned.  A bright morning and a great air of calm.  The entrance for pupils is from the playground behind the school so the milling crowds that used to gather at the old school are now away from the roads.

Streams of children were photographed by the huge new school sign.  The traffic was much more dignified than expected.  By 9.10 Duddingston Road was almost clear of cars and peace reigned.  Inside children were finding that each classroom is furnished differently and distinctively, appropriate to age.

Congratulations to Holmes Miller, Architects and Grahams Construction – a fine school right for the way we want to bring up our children.

The school will shortly have new leadership, as Barbara Service is leaving from her role as Head Teacher in September. Deputy Head Jaqueline Kelly takes over pending a permanent appointment.

Phase 1 of Treverlen Park is almost complete behind the school and the rear entrance through the Park from Hamilton Drive is open.

Getting Green

There has been a post and wire fence along the street face of the school for some weeks – not quite what we were expecting.  But now plants are arriving –  troughs of hedging, already over a metre high, are being planted to hide the post and wire. In other parts of the site lots of planting is underway.

This will be a truly green school.

Back at old St John’s the climbing frames and ropes have been excavated ready to move to the new school – they are recent additions to old St John’s and worth keeping.

Big question – will the teachers be ready in in 3 weeks time to unpack ready to open for business on Monday 20 August? Their new school will definitely be ready and looking great.


Pedestrian but not ordinary

The road side view is approaching maturity.  There is new top soil along the verge and signs of more planting.  The new trees put in months ago by the new pitch are prospering.  The staff car park is almost complete so the view from the street is almost complete.

Old St John’s is in a state of limbo – it is not clear what happens if we get to 20 August and the new school is not ready.  It might have to re-open until, perhaps half-term, but so far there is no news.

Beginning of July

The children left old St John’s on Wednesday 27 June and said good bye.  It was a quiet end; the school had been winding down for a couple of weeks.  Ms Service announced that she expected to see everyone at 8.50am on Monday 20 August at the new school.


Meanwhile, the builders are already working as hard as they can to make that possible.  The outside looks almost complete but it is a while since  we saw inside – probably like a swan on a pond, gliding serenely while its legs are going at a rare pace.

Now the hoarding is down, the quiet dignity of the new building is obvious.

The cherry tree survives

42 days to go…..

Hoarding down, Road up



Gas, water, telecoms, power, cable TZ, sewer – all exposed and in the way.


Everyone is beginning to see how the new school will be an elegant addition to the area; the exterior is all but finished.

The next step is to take down the high grey fence/hoarding so the front area of the school can be laid out. To do this, Grahams are seeking permission from the Council to close the pavement on Duddingston Road alongside the site from 25 June – much as was done in May for the services connections.

The work in Hamilton Drive is taking a little longer than expected – what was under the road was complicated so Grahams are applying to the Council for an extension of the closure. The new plan is for the road to re-open on 18 June, with final tarmac-ing on 14-15 June. Many people have said how they don’t mind (perhaps enjoy) the closure but if there are any concerns, let us or Alan Wilkinson know.


The way to newSt John’s through Treverlen Park.

Paths are converging

1 June 2018 – activity at both St John’s buildings.  Old St John’s held an open day for past and present pupils, friends and neighbours to see round the school 26 days before it closes for summer for the last time.  Pupils were taking people round on conducted tours and there were many exhibits in the hall recalling many years.  We saw how hand-writing is taught – a skill not yet lost.  Classrooms showed that the Egyptians and Romans were being intensively studied and there was masses of amazing art.

Talk like an Egyptian


Hot Summer

Chairs were on tables, to help the cleaners. In 3 weeks time this will come to an end.

Clean under the table

Meanwhile at new St John’s, the grand sign at the front door is up and the nursery garden is in preparation, with the old car park cleared ready for Treverlen Park, Phase 1.

The Main Entrance and the Monolith Sign
Nursery Garden


Pulling it all together

The whole site has changed in the last couple of weeks.  The “nursery entrance” which was the main access for the site has been closed and everything now goes through the entrance near the former janitors houses.  Donald has been moved.  This enables the clearing of the site between the school and Hamilton Drive, ready to connect the main drains into the system running along the Drive.  Then the first steps in building Treverlen Park will be taken: the footpath entrance from Hamilton Drive, the only part of the Park which will have lighting.   Hamilton Drive will be closed for a time from 21 May while this is done.


Main Entrance

The main entrance will be between the school and the 4G pitch and the 16 parking spaces have already been built.  The main services, like water and electricity, come in this way too.  The white building in the centre of the picture is the site office – to be replaced by a view of the Park.  Pupils, parents and others will enter through the door just behind the empty arch and then turn left into the main passage through the school.

The East face

The white empty arch is to the left in our photograph.  The blank wall is for the school gym and dining hall.  The fence surrounds the 4G pitch.  The ground floor windows are the school offices.

Everything is still on course for the new building to open on 20 August.

St John’s Primary School term dates adjusted

We are not hearing of any delays to the new St John’s building but  this has been issued:

20th April 2018
Dear Parents/Carers


I am writing to you to inform you that we have been granted exceptional closure approval, by the Scottish Government, for St John’s RC Primary School on the following dates:- Thursday 28th June (afternoon) , Friday 29th June ( morning ) , Monday 13th August and Tuesday 14th August (In-service days – exceptional closure not required) Wednesday 15th August ( full day ) , Thursday 16th August ( full day ) and Friday 17th August ( morning only ). Pupils will return on Monday 20th August. If there is to be a change to this, although a delay is not expected, I will of course keep you informed.

The new St John’s RC Primary building is scheduled to open in August 2018 and securing these days will enable a smooth start to the session.
The exceptional closure will allow time for packing, unpacking and re-siting of furniture and for the classrooms and offices to be prepared for pupils at the beginning of the new term.
I hope that this prior notice will enable families to put childcare provision in place for these dates.

Yours Sincerely
Barbara A Service
Ms Barbara A Service
Head Teacher


In with the bricks!

Or rather, up with the bricks.  The main facades are now almost complete – covered in sheets of perfect bricklaying, separated into panels by expansion joints.  Most windows are in, leaving only the slightly mysterious “columns” framework, incorporating the main entrance, to be completed.

Already, we can see it will be a gentle and calm shell for what should prove a lively new school.  Today, of course, there is mayhem as the main connections to water, sewerage and power are made.  To do this, Duddingston Road is reduced to one carriage way, with traffic light control.  Even with this, parents continue to park to drop off kids, oblivious to the dangers to themselves and others. Life will be different when St John’s main entrance is on a main road.

Everything is still on track for the new school to open at the beginning of the autumn term on 16 August 2018.