Weston House Academy, Elgin - 1905
Weston House was one of Elgin’s historical educational buildings, founded in 1859. The premier boy’s school for the upper classes was under the patronage of the Magistrates of Elgin until the Education (Scotland) Act 1872. Under this act it was placed in the hands of Burgh School Board and since 1885 there have made many additions which made the Academy “the last word educational equipment”.
In 1863 aged 16, Alexander Graham Bell accepted a position at Weston House Academy in Elgin, Scotland, where he taught elocution and music to students, many older than he. At the end of the
term, Alexander returned home and joined his father, promoting Melville Bell's technique of Visible Speech, which taught the deaf to align specific phonetic symbols with a particular position of the speech organs (lips, tongue, and palate). Alexander Graham Bell went on to invent the telephone.
George A. Cooper, born 20th February 1856 was a pupil at Weston House and may have been taught by Alexander Graham Bell, aged seven. Fifty years later he presented the inhabitants of
Elgin with the Grant Lodge and forty acres of park land.
In that for nearly half a century it has been occupied as a private seminary. Within its wall many of our prominent citizens, and some who have risen to eminence in their professions elsewhere, received their early scholastic training. In 1905, the Misses Watson, who at present presided over this thoroughly equipped establishment, provides a very interesting curriculum. The objective method of teaching as advocated by the education reformer, Friedrich Froebel, is utilised by them to carry the youngest child through easy and pleasant stages in its education to the more serious advanced studies.
In passing through the classes, we found the smallest mites of children having their mental faculties unconsciously developed by attractive occupations, busy paper cutting, paper folding, mat plaiting, clay modelling, cane weaving, and brush drawing, while the older pupils of this department were in one class listening to the thrilling tales of Scottish history and in another mapping out their geography in continents of sand.
Leaving the kindergarten department, we found classes in which the young ladies were receiving instruction in one or other of the numerous subjects comprised in their liberal course of education: a course embraces all the usual branches of English, Science, Mathematics, Modern Languages, Music, Drawing, Painting, Needle work, Marquetry, Crystoleum and Design Painting, Beat Iron Work, Filigree and Repousee Work. Physical culture, too, receives due attention. A complete system of Swedish drill is taught, and out-door exercises are encouraged.
To see the scholars at work is very interesting, and the high tone which pervades the whole school delectable. Nowadays, however we have to judge by results; and, on enquiry, we found that scholars are prepared for the University of Aberdeen Local Examinations, the South Kensington Art Examinations, and the Trinity College Music Examinations. Besides a high proportion of successful passes obtained, several prizes in junior and senior divisions have fallen to Weston House pupils.
The Misses Watsons are doing splendid work, and are ably assisted by resident governesses and visiting masters. In Weston House there is ample provision made for a well equipped boarding establishment and quite a number of boarders reside there.
A special feature of the school has been that Christmastide for several years a Kinder spiel has been performed by the pupils; the benefits derived having gone towards charitable objects, such as the Children’s League of Pity, the Highland Orphanage, Inverness, &c. We reproduce a group of those who performed at the cantata entitled “Little Red Riding Hood” held in the Parish Hall, Elgin.
Last year a new departure was made in the form of a Christmas Magazine, the contributions being entirely the work of the pupils. Another is, we understand, to be published this year.
Weston House Academy faced onto Gordon Street and land at the rear fronted onto Hay Street. A garage showroom was built on this land and latterly converted to “Comets” a former electrical store.