Gregory’s Girl fans mourn as school demolished

Demolition work begins on Abronhill High School in Cumbernauld, the setting for cult Scottish film Gregory's Girl. Picture: Michael Gillen
Demolition work begins on Abronhill High School in Cumbernauld, the setting for cult Scottish film Gregory's Girl. Picture: Michael Gillen
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THE school featured in the Scots comedy Gregory’s Girl was demolished today despite a long fight to keep Abronhill High in Cumbernauld open.

The school and the new town accrued a curious degree of fame after the director Bill Forsyth chose it as the location for his 1981 comedy about a hapless goalkeeper, played by John Gordon Sinclair, who fell in love with a female footballer played by Dee Hepburn.

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Today bulldozers had started tearing the school apart and flattening the building with the front face already having been ripped off by workers. The demolition is expected to take approximately one week.

Parents and campaigners had planned to take court action in a bid to keep the school open last year and £5,500 had been raised to start a case against North Lanarkshire Council claiming the authority has not fulfilled its obligations under school closure legislation.

However in June 2013 Scottish Ministers rubber stamped a decision by the local authority to close the school and last December the Save Abronhill High group announced their campaign was at an end after taking legal advice about challenging the closure in the Court of Session.

Many of the scenes for Gregory’s Girl, which starred John Gordon Sinclair as Gregory, Dee Hepburn as Dorothy and Clare Grogan as Susan, were filmed at Abronhill High, which opened its doors in 1978.

Kat Drummond, 48, a psychiatric nurse whose brother Paul, 51, was an extra in the film watched as the work on the school progressed. She said: “I’m very sad to see it go, I’ve been in tears about it. It’s just not right, a bit of history is going and it was the heart of this community and will have a knock on effect, especially on the shops who relied on the kids spending money there. I was in the campaign to keep the school and was very vocal.

“We did everything we could and fought a long hard fight but unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be. The campaign pulled the whole of Abronhill together and we fought a long hard campaign and didn’t take it lying down. My brother was an extra in the film, he was in the cooking scene, up the back washing dishes. I watched it being filmed and it was a great laugh, I’m just so sad to see it go.”

Demolition crews had removed the front of the building exposing the inside of classrooms. A large digger was outside and was clearing piles of rubble which were on the ground.

Last year North Lanarkshire’s learning and leisure services committee approved the merger of Abronhill and Cumbernauld High Schools. After voting to close Abronhill, the council said the decision aimed to address the falling school roll and achieve annual savings of £1.3 million.

Under the plan, Abronhill was to close in time for pupils to start their education at Cumbernauld High School, with the promise of a new purpose-built school to replace both campuses. However, parents immediately appealed the decision to the Scottish Government, which called it in for review.

They were given a glimmer of hope when the government later informed the authority that it had concerns over the educational benefit of the proposed closure and said the merger move may “lack clarity”. However, in June ministers approved the council’s decision, albeit with a number of conditions covering aspects such as funding, the timetable for change and pupil safety issues.

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