Ex-pupils’ tribute to Falkirk High stalwart

Julia Wade spent two decades at Falkirk High
Julia Wade spent two decades at Falkirk High

Tributes have been paid to an influential teacher who died last month.

Julia Wade spent two decades at Falkirk High School where she was lady superintendent and latterly assistant rector.

She died at her Linlithgow home on June 13, aged 93.

Despite often been seen as an authoritarian, her determination that pupils should make the most of the capabilities was never in doubt.

Former Falkirk High pupil, the Rev. Dr John Cameron, now of St Andrews, said: “Today we are used to girls over-achieving academically but even in my 1950s generation, many of the most able pupils were girls and some came from very poor circumstances.

“Families with no background in education were usually willing to give their bright sons the chance of going to university, but they expected their daughters to leave at 15.

“It is not widely known that Mrs Wade spent countless evenings visiting sceptical and often belligerent parents to plead a girl’s case. Many Falkirk women who went on to highly successful professional careers owed a great deal to the formidable Julia who was almost impossible to discourage when on a mission.”

A native of Linlithgow, Mrs Wade was a member of its Town Council in the 1960s and ’70s, and held the office of Burgh treasurer.’

After being educated at Linlithgow Academy and then the Edinburgh Ladies’ College, now Mary Erskine School, she attended Edinburgh University where she achieved an MA (Hons) in French and German.

She spent 1938-39 in Nantes and Zurich, leaving the Swiss city on the last train through Basle before the border was closed prior to the start of the Second World War.

A year after marrying RAF Flight Lieutenant Christopher Wade in 1944 she became assistant teacher in French and German at Bo’ness Academy. In 1947 – the year her younger sister Jenny drowned in Lake Zurich – she was appointed principal teacher and remained at the Academy until 1959 when she moved to Falkirk High.

Mrs Wade, who divorced in 1951, eventually retired in 1979.

She was one of the first female elders at St Michael’s Church, Linlithgow, where her funeral was held last week, as well as a founder secretary of the town’s Arts guilds, eventually becoming chairwoman and honorary president.

A golfer from an early age, she gained her Blue for the sport while at university and in 1947 she joined Turnhouse Golf Club where she was seven time club champion. Later, she captained Glenbervie Ladies.

Mary Pitcaithly, Falkirk Council’s chief executive, is a former school captain of Falkirk High and well remembers the lady superintendent.

She said: “Mrs Wade was a very determined lady. She had strong views about how the school should be run and could be very firm about some things. I remember her measuring how short our skirts were. More than four inches from the floor when you were kneeling down and you were sent home!

“She clearly wanted to know that all pupils, and especially her ‘girls’, were behaving in such a way that they would bring credit to the school. But she also wanted us all to achieve our potential.”