Warriston School was founded in 1899 by Mr F.W.Gardiner at "Holmpark" in Ballplay Road, starting with 5 boys.  It became one of Scotland’s leading prep-schools. Mr F.W. Gardiner retired in 1932. The school was taken on by his son Fred Gardiner and fully revived post 1945 again as a Prep school it continued as this but firstly now in premises St Ninian's, Well Road, and including Dundanion the adjacent house. Extending into a further house "Warriston House" now the "Well Centre" Well Road in Moffat. It extended to take boys 14-18 from Sept. 1963 onwards. Within a short space of time Mr Fred Gardiner sold out to Mr D G Mann who ran the school. Believed to have closed 1984/85). St Ninians (pre 1940 a separate School set up by the Dowding family (Air Marshall in 2nd World war) is now being used as a residential home for retired service men. Apparently, they have quite a few ex- pupils visiting, particularly in the summer. They did have a signing in book available for students to sign, as it proved popular. The School had a sister establishment Burnbraes School (occupying the pre war home of Warriston) set up by Mrs Fred Gardiner, in existence 1945 - 1970's.

This is one reason why the Well Road Centre has such remarkably extensive accommodation and facilities. The other reason was its conversion to a private school - one of several in Moffat.  Warriston House was the main building of Warriston School for Boys, named after the famous Covenanting lawyer Archibald Johnstone, Lord Warriston. Other now-demolished buildings stood where modern housing was constructed over the past twenty years. The school had pupils from all over the world, keeping going under the name of Warriston up until its closure as a school in 1979.  There is a picture in Jane Boyd's "Old Moffat" with the building of the Well Road Centre in the background. The picture is dated at 1863 and features "Vicarlands", another big building. As there is a date inscribed 1879 on the Well Road Centre, either the picture was taken later than is thought, or the 1879 date was added after the building's completion. The answer to this puzzle has still to be resolved.

In early days, Warriston House was the main building of Warriston School For Boys, named after the famous Covenanting lawyer Archibald Johnstone, Lord Warriston. Other now-demolished buildings stood where modern housing was constructed over the past twenty years. The school had pupils from all over the world, keeping going under the name of Warriston up until its closure as a school in 1985.   There is a date inscribed 1879 on the Well Road Centre.


As far as we have researched, Professor Ian DONALD, the pioneer of Ultrasonography (Obstetrician and Gynaecologist) a famous former Warriston student.

Hugh Fraser, 1st Baron Fraser of Allander (15 January 1903 – 6 November 1966) was the grandson of Hugh Fraser I, and the father of Sir Hugh Fraser, 2nd Baronet.

He inherited his father's shop and built it into the large retail chain now known as House of Fraser.

Career: Born in Partick, Lanarkshire (now in Glasgow), Hugh Fraser was educated at Glasgow Academy and Warriston School near Moffat.

In 1919 he joined his father's business, a shop in Buchanan Street in Glasgow. He became Managing Director in 1924 and Chairman on his father's death in 1927.

He expanded the business by acquisition buying department stores throughout Scotland as well as the John Barker Group and Harrods in England and Argentina.

In 1948 he established Scottish & Universal Investments ('SUITS') to acquire non-retail businesses including the Glasgow Herald.

In 1945 he purchased Mugdock Castle from the Duke of Montrose. He was created a Baronet, styled "of Dineiddwg in the County of Stirling", in 1961, and was subsequently created Baron Fraser of Allander, of Dineiddwg in the County of Stirling, in 1964.   He died in 1966 at Mugdock Castle.


Also, see the achievements of other Warriston students, Sir Keith and Sir Ross Smith (esteemed international aviator / pioneers in Adelaide, Australia).

L. G. Crawley of Brancepeth Castle.  Former Warriston Headmaster.

A tribute to a former Head Boy – Lawrence Haggerty.  http://www.lastingtribute.co.uk/tribute/haggerty/2648726

If you kow of other noteworthy achievers, please submit details.


St. Ninian's Boys Preparatory School

The most famous of the vanished Moffat private schools - due to associations with Air Vice Marshal Hugh Dowding 'Father of the RAF' - was Dowding's father's school of St. Ninian, now converted to the RAFA home for ex-servicemen. The Dowding family had moved to Moffat in 1879 when his father left Fettes College in Edinburgh after three years as an Assistant Master. Arthur Dowding and his colleague, a Mr. Churchill, established St. Ninian's Boys Preparatory School in Moffat.  Hugh Dowding was born in Moffat in 1882, living in Moffat for his first fifteen years. He went to Winchester College on a scholarship and later joined the Army. His family moved in 1897 down to England, where by 1901 Dowding was able to note the achievements of the early aviators such as Orville and Wilbur Wright and Louis Bleriot.


It is believed Moffat grew in the 1600s, possibly as a strategic stopping point before the Devil‘s Beef Tub where stolen sheep and cattle were often hidden from their sassenach (English) owners. The sleepy border village developed into a little market town with prosperous Victorian spas from the healthy stream waters. It was during this time that many of the buildings you see today in Well Road were erected as permanent dwellings by their wealthy visitors. The fine architectural features including ornate plasterwork, fire places, woodwork and elegant 6-panel stained glass window are typical examples of the craftsmanship and attention to detail of the time. The fact that the building survives to this day is testimony to its sound construction.

Moffat was built at the point where two major routes through Scotland meet. It is not clear what prehistoric settlement may have been there, but certainly the Roman Legions came this way. At a later date, the early mediaeval divisions in the Border between Scotland and England turned the area into a semi-lawless place where even royal authority was flouted.

The 'Devil's Beeftub' north of the town is a deep valley where cattle stampeded from England or elsewhere were corralled by the reivers. Tower-houses were built from the late mediaeval period by nobility and churchmen for safety from raids by warring families. The Union of the Crowns in 1603 saw the reiving decline, but it was not until the 1750s that it died out completely.

With the land reasonable peaceful, Moffat entered a period of prosperity as a market and droving town for sheep and cattle, as is shown by the magnificent ram on the Colvin monument. However, this in itself caused such difficulties that the roads from Lockerbie north to Elvanfoot were remade many times until (in the days of Telford and McAdam) a good road from Carlisle to Glasgow was made, and a new route from Moffat to Twwedsdale built for Edinburgh traffic.

Moffat continued to prosper from its position on the West Coast routes to Glasgow and Edinburgh, with stage and mail coaches to cater for. The discovery of Moffat Well in 1633 and its shrewd marketing for a spa, transformed Moffat from a marketing and droving town into a tourist center.

People came to take the waters, then discovered the beauty of the surrounding area and came regularly to enjoy it. The railways bypassed Moffat except for its long-closed branch line, whilst now the M74 passes a mile west of the town.

Visitors still come for themselves as a break from the thunder of motorway traffic, whilst others use the variety of local guesthouses and use Moffat as a touring base for visiting Dumfries and Galloway and the Borders. It is hard to predict the exact future of the town, but no doubt it will continue to give its usual warm welcome to visitors.


Lord Warriston - Archibald Johnston, (1611–63). Johnston was born in Edinburgh, educated at Glasgow University, and became a lawyer. He helped to frame the national covenant in 1638 and was appointed procurator of the kirk. In the temporary lull of 1641 Charles I appointed him to the Court of Session as Lord Warriston. He was much employed in negotiation with the English Parliament and strongly disapproved of the Engagement in 1648. After the Cromwellian conquest of Scotland, he was deprived of all offices, but in 1657 was reappointed lord clerk register [S], a post he had held 1649–51. He also attended Cromwell's House of Peers and was a member of the Council of State in 1659. After the Restoration, Warriston fled to the continent, but was seized at Rouen, taken to Scotland, and hanged at the market cross in Edinburgh. Burnet, his nephew, wrote that Presbyterianism was ‘to him more than all the world’. His son James was secretary of state [S] from 1692 to 1696.


MOFFAT: The prosperity that came with Spa status has blessed Moffat with a rich built environment.

A walk along the High Street will introduce you to the Annandale  Arms Hotel and the Balmoral Hotel, both of which were major coaching inns at one time, the Moffat House Hotel (illustrated above) built for the Earl of Hopetoun in 1762 and designed by the famous Edinburgh architect John Adam. The Town Hall, built in 1827, formerly the ‘Bath’s Hall’ which provided hot and cold mineral baths for visitors to ‘take the waters’.

You will see the recently restored Colvin Fountain, the Buccleuch Arms Hotel, Arden House, Dickson House and several others which have strong connections with the towns’ spa and coaching history.


A Favourite Haunt of Robert Burns: Jumping back in time we have the Black Bull Hotel, built in 1568, for a while the headquarters of ‘Bloody Clavers’ and his dragoons.   In more peaceful times it was a favourite haunt of Robert Burns.  A short walk away you can see two paved circles with a cross of stone set within, these being markers for the market place, a charter for which was granted in 1662.

Visitors through the Ages: Located amongst idyllic countryside on a natural transit route between England and central Scotland, Moffat has always attracted travellers. An ancient bow left behind in a peat bog in the Moffat hills some 6000 years ago suggests that even pre-historic man came this way!  The Romans passed through, the Knights Templar built both fort and chapel here in medieval times and the infamous Reivers came this way to hide their stolen cattle in the ‘Devils Beef Tub’ just north of the town.

Bloody Times: Legend has it that William Wallace arrived here a lone traveller and left with six men from Corehead, the first recruits for his army of rebellion. And continuing in warlike mood we should mention John Graham of Claverhouse, known as ‘Bonnie Dundee’ to his friends…but as ‘Bloody Clavers’ to his enemies.  Claverhouse (illustrated above) made Moffat his base whilst he hunted down Covenanters during ‘the killing times’, a period of religious persecution that followed Charles I self-proclamation as Head of the Church in 1635.


Delightful Times: On a lighter note, Robert Burns was a frequent guest of Moffat folk, and in 1817 Grand Duke Nicholas of Russia stayed here during his grand tour. In fact he was so delighted with the facilities offered to him that he paid double his account.

Moffat benefits from its “smallness” and relative remoteness from other towns by enjoying a vibrant community spirit.  Although the population is only around 2,200, there are some eighty societies, groups and clubs. Some cater for the ‘not-so-young’ generation whilst there are numerous activities available for the more active and young.

The whole community is catered for, therefore no-one need feel excluded if they are prepared to ‘join-in’.  The community video of Moffat and its people, made to celebrate the Millennium, is now available in DVD form and can be purchased from Thingummyjig, High Street, Moffat.

The Advent of State Education: Even when the State education system made free schooling available to every child Moffat continued to offer private education through several boarding schools of repute, the last closing in the late 1970’s.

Today Moffat Academy meets the town’s educational needs. Having occupied its present site since 1834 it offers all through schooling from nursery age to sixth year.  A new school for children of all ages is scheduled to be built, starting in 2007.  The neighbouring village of Beattock also has a primary school with nursery provision.


Travelling in Time - An Important Staging Post: It wasn’t just the Spa that brought fame and good fortune to Moffat but also her location. With improvements in trading conditions, fast communications were vital between Scotland and England and Moffat was ideally placed to become an important staging post for passenger and mail coaches and all manner of merchant’s carts.

Much of the coach trade ceased when the main rail line between Carlisle and Glasgow opened in 1848. However visitors still had to travel by coach into Moffat until 1883 when a single-track branch line was introduced between the town and the main line at Beattock. In the 1890’s there were twelve trains a day, fifteen on busy summer days, and even a through train, ‘The Tinto Express’, that ran to Glasgow every morning, returning late afternoon.