Updated 10 January 2010

This mosaic of pupils' faces on a corridor wall was like the event experienced by visitors: smiling faces working together towards a common goal, the celebration of symbols of the school, the high-achieving Duxes of the past.

Armadale Primary School's new Dux Board was presented to the school by The History of Armadale Association
and unveiled by the last Dux, Dr Heather Shields nee Mallace, on Friday 8 March 2009.

The occasion was a happy one, attended by many former recipients of Dux awards and / or their families / representatives.

We would like to thank Mrs Alison Phillips, her staff and pupils for their warm welcome and hospitality, and we would like to congratulate the pupil representatives whose patience, attentive politeness and communication skills were a credit to themselves as well as their school.

Below are some of the moments from that special day...


Armadale Primary School awaits its visitors!



Speech delivered by Ron Dingwall, Chair of The History of Armadale Association

The History of Armadale Association was delighted to sponsor the new Dux Board for the School. Armadale Primary has a long history and history is important for us all. These are not just names on a board as we have here today some of the previous Duxes, relatives and even descendants of those featured over 100 years ago.

We have tried very hard to fill in the gaps that were on the old boards but Councillor Borrowman can confirm it wasn’t an easy task. There were many prizes given out in both the primary and secondary departments of the school and some confusion has arisen. However we tried our best and I hope that everyone thinks our efforts were worthwhile.

The old boards will hopefully be restored and be given to West Lothian's Museums Service for display.

The new board is to be unveiled by Heather Mallace, better known to most of you as local dentist Heather Shields. She was not the first dentist from Armadale School as the Dux in 1902/03 was a Joseph Blair Syson who also went on to become a dentist.

I’d now like to hand over to Heather Shields to unveil the new Dux Board of Armadale Primary School.



Visitors who attended the Unveiling Ceremony

(Only a list of those who signed in)

Moira Niven, Head of Education
Councillor Jim Dixon
Councillor Stuart Borrowman
Rev Ian Walker
Jim Sibbald
Andrew Smart, Armadale Community Council
Mary Falconer Flynn, History of Armadale Association
Margaret Reid, sister of John Leitch Dux 1949
Duncan A R Wallace, husband of Doreen Russell
Doreen Wallace, Dux of 1962
Peter Reid, Dux of 1947
James Lambie, History of Armadale Association
Betty Hunter, Secretary, History of Armadale Association
Alison Hossack nee Peden, Dux of 1960
Ian Hossack, husband of Alison Hossack nee Peden
Duncan Sommerville, Dux of 1941 -2
John Wells, Armadale website
Heather J V Shields nee Mallace, Dux 1971
William Syson
N. M. Heriot, Edinburgh
Ron Dingwall, Chair, History of Armadale Association
Ann Taylor nee Smart, Dux 1946 and teacher
Isobel Colquhoun, Ann Taylor's sister, also former pupil
Jessie B Kerr, wife of Robert Kerr, Dux of 1939
Gordon Ford, Director of Education and Cultural Services
Patricia Brown, niece of Russell Warnock, Dux 1920
Ian Brown, husband of Patricia Brown
Louise Macintyre nee Louden, 1953 pupil
Jemima Redpath, History of Armadale Association
Tom Wilson, Armadale Primary School Parent Council
William Ross, Dux 1967
James Ferguson, History of Armadale Association, 1935 pupil
William Ferrier, ex-Provost, History of Armadale Association
Nan Armstrong nee Brown, niece of Annie Brown, Dux 1925
James D Campbell
Janet G Campbell
Ann Hume
Davie Kerr, History of Armadale Association
Rosie Wells, Armadale website and History of Armadale Association
Gavin Young, Dux 1949
Margo Young


Duncan Sommerville proudly displaying

his Dux watch


Speech delivered by Dr Heather Shields nee Mallace, Dux 1971

Mrs Phillips, Councillor Borrowman, distinguished guests, boys and girls.

On behalf of all those whose names appear on the Dux Board of Armadale Primary School, it is my privilege to have been asked to today's unveiling ceremony for what is after all part of Armadale's wider history and that of the school in particular.

I would like to offer specific thanks to Mr Ron Dingwall and to all members of The History of Armadale Association for their input and financial backing without which this would not have been possible.

It is good to see so many Alumni of Armadale Primary School here today.  For those of us whose names appear on the Dux Board, our achievement of being Dux would have remained but a distant memory if it were not for the efforts of Councillor Stuart Borrowman in having the Dux Board restored to its rightful place.

I am sure that I speak for all Alumni present today in thanking him for all his hard work in achieving this.

I hope that his efforts will go some way to help today's pupils focus on the benefits of education and, in particular, the pride and satisfaction that comes from striving to do their best for themselves, their families and their school.

However, it would not be possible to do one's best without the support and dedication of the many teachers who are entrusted with the task of educating those in their charge.

I would therefore like to pay special tribute to all those teachers who have taught in Armadale Primary School down the generations from 1880 to the present day and without whose efforts there would have been no Dux.

The number of names on the Dux Board is a testament to their sterling efforts, their dedication, and, above all, their pride in their chosen profession.

Whilst there is no Dux today, nevertheless I would wholeheartedly encourage today's pupils to honour their own teacher's efforts and dedication, to have pride in Armadale Primary School, and to represent the interests of the school to the best of their abilities at all times.

Finally, I hope that, in restoring the Dux Board to its rightful place in the school, it will serve as a continuing focus for teachers, parents and pupils to fully appreciate the fact that a good education, and good educational qualifications, allow all of us to find worthwhile employment and to make a positive contribution to society.

In today's modern world it may sound somewhat dated but I would urge all pupils to subscribe to the ideal that if




More moments from the morning's event...


Two Armadale Academy Dux representatives joined Mr Sommerville to see his Dux watch awarded in 1941/2

Armadale Primary School

hospitality was much appreciated!




At the first formal end-of-session ceremony at the new Armadale Public School in July 1879, it was announced that John Moffat, proprietor of the Barbauchlaw estate would, the following year, present medals for the top pupils in the boys’ class and girls’ class.  The medals were awarded for “general excellence”. The award was made to pupils who had completed nine years’ schooling (that is, aged 14).

After Elizabeth Chalmers and James Meek won the medals in 1880, it was announced that this would become an annual award.  However, Mr Moffat died after the 1881 awards and there was some doubt about them continuing. 

But George Readman, the new proprietor soon announced that he would continue with the awards.

In 1888, it was agreed that the award would be switched to a younger age group (12) as it was recognised that many pupils left then and so all could compete for the medals.

For a time, the award became the result of a public examination so that  some pupils won more than one Dux prize. Where there was a close result, the papers would often be sent to benefactor for adjudication.

As some pupils then went on to other schools, some Armadale Dux Award recipients also won awards elsewhere and, for example, Joseph Syson is believed to have been Dux of an Edinburgh private school.

In the 1890s, a watch seemed to have become the preferred prize.

Other benefactors contributed prestigious awards.  The upper school continued to have a prize and T. M. Durham, proprietor of the Boghead estate awarded a medal for excellence in agricultural studies.

Eventually, the Dux medal began to be associated with coalmaster James Wood.   After his death in 1932 the James Wood Bequest funded the prizes at the school.

It is the winners of the prizes from this bequest who are honoured on the Dux Board until the award ceased in 1971 when Robert Hunter and Heather Mallace (now Dr. Shields) were the last winners. 

The Dux idea was also used by other schools and there was also a Junior Secondary Dux with a prize awarded by the Goth.  We are finding it harder to come by details of the winners of those awards.

Armadale Academy has revived the Dux award in recent years, and that can (and has) been won by Blackridge pupils as well as Armadale pupils.

See HERE for Dux Board details.  Please notify me of any errors or omissions.


Unofficial webpage with current details about Armadale Primary School as well as photos of former pupils.