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The History of St John's R.C. High School

The history of St John’s R.C High School


The Marist Brothers came to Dundee in 1860 and directed the three Roman Catholic primary schools in the city (St Andrew's, St Mary's Forebank and St Joseph's). At that time, Catholic secondary education was provided by the Sisters of Mercy at Lawside Academy for both boys and girls.

When the 1918 Education Act came into force, the diocesan schools were handed over to the local authorities.

In 1931, a new "Central School" was set up to take the boys and girls of secondary age who did not continue to Lawside Academy. It was to replace the supplementary classes, or advanced division, which had been housed in the various primary schools. The new school was to be called St John's (after John the Apostle) and the Marist Brothers were asked to run the establishment. The new school was started in buildings in Park Place, occasionally some classes took place in Artillery Lane and Daniel Street. 

Park Place Building

The original houses were named after the local parishes: St Mary's Forebank, St Mary's Lochee, St Peter and Paul's, St Joseph's, St Francis and St Andrews.

1946 School Football Team

​(From left to Right, Front 2 - Jim Murpy was a Celtic Trialist. Front 4 - Tom McInerny played for Sheffield Wednesday)

1947 Girls' Class

The new school in Harefield Road opened in 1961. The science and CDT block (Iona) is the only remaining part of that original building. There was a fire in the central part of the building in 1978 and the main entrance, office, current chapel (which was then the library) was rebuilt.

Every head teacher up until Mr Haggarty in 1993 had been a Marist Brother. The first Head Teacher was Brother Liguori and the longest serving Head Teacher was Brother Bede who was in charge of the school for 26 years.

The school has a few famous former pupils. Dave Narey was the first Dundee United player to play for Scotland, he scored against Brazil in the 1982 World Cup.  Jenny Marra Labour MSP is a former pupil. More recently Mark Stewart has won a gold medal for Scotland at cycling in the Commonwealth Games.