Edinburgh Local

Preston Street Primary School Celebrates 125th Anniversary

Preston Street Primary School celebrated its 125th anniversary by enabling students to learn about its history through the University of Edinburgh’s heritage collections.  

The University worked with 36 primary-6 pupils over a period of five weeks in helping them celebrate the 125th anniversary of Preston Street Primary School. By engaging with the University’s heritage collections, students learned about the past, present and future of the school and explored new ways of understanding its unique history. Students and teachers rounded out this collaboration by holding an exposition to display student work, giving young learners the opportunity to share knowledge with friends, family and University of Edinburgh staff.  


Students smiling and showcasing their projects created based on University collections


P6 students looking at school projects created based on University collections

Items from the University’s collections and archives introduced students to the context of Edinburgh in 1897, when the school was founded. They learned about key events in the 19th century such as Charles Darwin coming to Edinburgh and the history of Burke and Hare. Students also listened to examples of oral histories to show the importance of recording everyday events, and learned how to conduct interviews so they can create their own archives for the school.  


"I quite liked seeing all the different historic documents, especially the small things that I wouldn’t have expected to see in the collection. It was really interesting!" -Tabitha G, Primary 6 Student


They visited St Cecilia’s Hall to learn more about musical instruments old and new; crowd pleasers included a flute made of glass and a wind instrument called the Serpent, which is namely shaped like a snake. Students also had a visit from the City of Edinburgh Archivist who showed them the logbook of the school that details information about how the school was when it first opened. They learned that it had over 700 pupils; more than twice the number it has now, and was used as a military hospital during WWI.  

Student holding a historic instrument from the University collections


"My favourite part of viewing the collections was learning how the musical instruments work. It was really fun to see the differences between old instruments and ones that are used today"- Kareem A, Primary 6 student


Throughout the exploration of heritage collections of Preston Street Primary School, students were able to discuss what matters to them now as young people and what they would like the school to look like in future. With lots of creative ideas about what the school might look like in the future, one thing is clear: the rich past behind Preston Street Primary School has laid solid foundation for a promising future ahead.   

Two P6 students looking down at school projects created based on University collections