This week we wanted to acknowledge the far reaching impact of Inverness Royal Academy which until the introduction of a comprehensive education system and local authority catchment areas in the 1960’s and 70’s, welcomed pupils from as far away as the islands of Barra, Uist and Harris. Many pupils boarded in Inverness and accommodation was provided in two hostels within the city (one for boys and one for girls) at Hedgefield House, Culduthel Road (named the Inverness Academy War Memorial Hostel), and also within Drummond Park House.

This meant the school had strong links with the Gaelic culture of the Highlands & Islands both through it’s students and staff. Therefor we’ve chosen to share a short audio clip from Peggy Mackintosh (known as Peggy MacLeod in school) from the isle of Raasay near Skye. Her Father was the bootmaker on Raasay and you’ll hear reference to herself as ‘Peggy Shoemaker’ in this clip.

Peggy came to the Academy in 1944 aged only 12 and a half. She had only left Raasay once before to have her appendix removed in Broadford Hospital a few months prior to her departure. She describes her journey to Inverness as ‘difficult’. Her father was by her side and they travelled by boat, then train, it was her first ever train journey.

Some of Peggy’s brothers had attended Portree Academy, but the MOD had removed the steam boat service that took them there. Her father knew the Rector, DJ MacDonald and asked if her older brother and she may attend there. Angus went in 1939, Peggy followed and then her youngest sister a year after her.

A resident of Hedgefield Hostel, Peggy only got home a few times per year. She met her husband Andrew at the school and his mother took her under her wing. Peggy would go to his for tea sometimes after school, but to do so, she would have to ask the hostel Matron at lunch time.

Peggy recalled the hostel dances where the 4th-6th year girls would select some 4th-6th year boys that could attend the dance, the list would then be taken to the Rector who would sign it off. Lucky for her, Andrew got to come along when she was in 2nd year. They won a dance competition; the prize was tickets to the Palace theatre, where they had double seats to cosy up in.

A lot of the girls wouldn’t have their own dresses. Peggy recalls Ms Yule’s kindness in finding dresses for them all; “she was fantastic…she used to take dresses up from Edinburgh and share them out amongst the girls who had nothing…she was good to us…they were good to us really.”

This interview and research was untaken by Kerry Duncan in 2018.

“Here is a photo of the Royal Academy 1st Hockey XI of 1949-50 with Peggy third from the left in the front row, next to team coach Maude Yule. As a PE teacher, including back at the Royal Academy, Peggy went on to become an eminent hockey coach and referee. Peggy went on to marry the school’s Howden Medallist of 1948, Andrew MacKintosh.” Charles Bannerman

Photo credit: Paterson Collection.

“Peggy (my mother) played in the school’s Senior Hockey team from S1 onwards as goalkeeper. She says the main reason she was chosen for that position was because she had played shinty from an early age at home on Raasay with her siblings and was used to stopping the ball with her feet! Her younger sister Alice, who went on to become a Gaelic teacher, is on the right end of the back row.” Callum Mackintosh

Our heritage programme is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund

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