Cupar Academy was founded early in the 19th Century and subsumed Cupar Grammar School. The Academy was renamed the Madras Academy in 1853 following the generous endowment by Dr Andrew Bell. These schools were situated on Castlehill in Cupar. Dr Bell also endowed Madras College in St Andrews.
Lady Elizabeth Baxter was the wife of Sir David Baxter of Kilmaron Castle, Cupar. She and her husband had no children, but she was a firm believer in the importance of education for girls. In 1871 she donated money to found the “Baxter Institute for Young Ladies” at Westport.
In 1889 The Madras Academy school and The Baxter Institute for Young Ladies combined to form the Bell-Baxter School. This became Bell Baxter High School in 1955.
When the school first opened, there were 110 boys and 101 girls enrolled. 61 boys and 16 girls studied Latin; 7 boys and 16 girls studied German; 36 boys and 2 girls studied maths.
The first site of the school was at Westport in the centre of Cupar. The school occupied this site from 1890 with additional facilities added to the site in 1929.
St Michael’s Church, adjacent to the Bell Baxter High School Westport site, served for many years as the Bell Baxter Assembly Hall and gymnasium.
In the early 1960s, the old Westport site was bursting at the seams with numerous wooden huts in use. The current Carslogie Road site took some of the burden when it opened in 1962 for senior pupils. For the next 48 years, the school’s campus was split across the two sites, approximately three quarters of a mile apart.
Since being built, on-going refurbishments to the Carslogie site resulted in the school being able to operate from one site. In 2010, the school stopped operating from Westport. Since then the Westport buildings have been partially demolished with some facades still remaining. Offices and affordable housing now occupy the site. St Michael’s Church has been approved for housing. The metal railings of the original school buildings were likely previously removed for metal salvage during WW2.
Bell Baxter’s school motto is Ad Vitam Paror - I am being prepared for life.
With thanks to Bell Baxter Former Pupils' Association for their research in putting the article above together.
Other sites of interest:
Cupar Now - https://www.cuparnow.blog/
Madras College History - https://www.madras.fife.sch.uk/home/history.html