As Kilmacolm grew from an agricultural to a commuter village, following the introduction of a railway station in 1867, there was a demand for a school for girls.

Located in a purpose-built sandstone building on Duchal Road, St Columba’s was opened in 1897 as an independent boarding and day school to 54 young ladies. Boys were enrolled into the three youngest classes only and left by the age of eight. Pioneering educators, such as Georgina Kinnear and her protégés, Miss Young and Miss Waugh, were pivotal in shaping the School in those early days, ensuring that the girls not only received “an education not inferior to that of their brothers”, but one which allowed them to develop their individual talents and aspirations.

Shalott, an impressive Victorian mansion on Knockbuckle Road, housed first the School’s boarders and when boarding ceased in 1970, it was developed as the home of Junior School.


The idea of ‘service’ was established early at the School. During WWI pupils and staff supported the war efforts in various ways, including with a dramatic production to raise funds to establish a bed called ‘Old St Columbians, Kilmacolm’ at the Scottish Red Cross Hospital at Rouen.

When a House System was introduced in 1932, pupils looked to their neighourhood for inspiration and chose Kilallan, Strathgryffe, Duchal and Craigmarloch.

St Columba’s has been fully co-educational since 1982, with equal numbers of boys and girls at all stages and we now take children aged 3-18 years with full wraparound care.

* The information above was drawn from excerpts from Variety without Disorder A History of St Columba’s 1897-1997 written by Susan Milligan

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