Fettes College
Fettes College is an independent school for boarding and day pupils in Edinburgh, Scotland with over two thirds of its pupils in residence on campus. It is sometimes referred to as a public school, although strictly speaking this only applies to the English schools covered by the Public Schools Acts.

To perpetuate the memory of his only son William, who had predeceased him in 1815, Sir William Fettes (1750”“1836), a former Lord Provost of Edinburgh and wealthy city merchant, bequeathed the then very large sum of £166,000 to be set aside for the education of poor children and orphans. After his death the bequest was effected and invested and the accumulated sum was then used to acquire the land, to build the main building and found the school in 1870. Fettes College thus opened with 53 pupils (40 were Foundation Scholars with 11 others boarding & 2 day pupils). The Headmaster who provoked most controversy was Anthony Chenevix-Trench (1971”“79), formerly of Eton. The investigative journalist Paul Foot wrote an expose in Private Eye detailing his excessive use of corporal punishment while he was a Housemaster at Shrewsbury School. Tim Card, a former Vice-provost of Eton College, said Chenevix-Trench's resignation from that school was caused by his heavy drinking and his overuse of the cane. An all-boys school until 1970, when female pupils were first admitted for the final year, Fettes has been fully co-educational since 1983. In recent years, some journalists have described Fettes as "the Eton of the North", meaning for its high profile and prestige.
  • In 1998 Fettes was placed 4th in the Daily Telegraph league table of Schools.
  • In 1999 Fettes was placed 5th in the Sunday Times list of top mixed independent schools in the UK.
  • In 2001 Fettes was declared "Scottish School of the year" by the Sunday Times.
In 2002, three incidents, two involving drugs, occurred and were dealt with by the school. Three sixth-form boys were excluded from the school over drugs: two were caught with cannabis at a school event, while the other failed a drugs test while on a school trip. In April of that year, a pupil was shot at with an air pistol by another pupil - the incident was dealt with by school authorities. In early 2007, videos made at the school- which were apparently based on the television programme Jackass were posted to the video-sharing website YouTube. These videos featured stunts such as pupils smashing branches over their heads and walking on banisters, as well as nudity and the consumption of alcohol. Fettes pupils wear distinctive chocolate and magenta coloured blazers. It is said that Fettes "used to have a hearty, rugger-bugger, Caledonian image". In 2009 Fettes won the Bell Lawrie Scottish School's Cup, at Murrayfield Stadium, for the first time. In April 2009 Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) published a report on Fettes that evaluated the school as “excellent” in four out of five Quality Indicators and “very good” in the other one. In October 2009, 5 pupils were expelled for smoking the drug cannabis on school grounds with a further 15 suspended for smoking the drug off campus or possessing it.

Fettes College follows the English rather than Scottish education system. Pupils take GCSEs rather than Scottish Standard Grades and, due to the recent removal of the Scottish Highers examination, students now have the choice between the A Level exam system and the new International Baccalaureate Diploma, but cannot take Scottish exams. Fettes is an IB World School, one of only three schools in Scotland to have attained this status.

Boarding houses
There are currently eight houses; four for boys, three for girls and one for boys and girls. The houses are named after the estates of the first Trustees. The male houses are large period buildings which stretch from East Fettes Avenue to Carrington Road; two of the female houses are in the upper floors of the main College Building and the third is in a modern building in the eastern part of the grounds. An innovation, reflecting the changes in responsibilities of teenagers in the school and society, is the Upper Sixth Boarding House, for both boys and girls in their last year at Fettes, which opened in September 2007.

  • Carrington
  • Glencorse
  • Kimmerghame
  • Moredun

  • Arniston
  • College East
  • College West

Boys and girls
  • Craigleith, Mixed Upper Sixth Form House

  • Dalmeny was renamed to Carrington in 1873 due to a post office confusion.
  • Inverleith was the previous name for the Preparatory School, now an entity in its own right.
  • School House split into College East and College West.

The college's main building by David Bryce (built 1863-9) blends the design of a Loire château with elements of the 19th century Scottish Baronial. According to the school's website, the combination of styles and the site of the building led a modern architectural expert to praise it as "undeniably one of Scotland's greatest buildings". The war memorial, a fine bronze figure of a fallen officer telling his men to "carry on" is by William Birnie Rhind, 1919.

Coat of arms
The school crest is a bee because it appears at the top of Sir William’s Coat of Arms and his Seal (for letters etc) was also a Bee. When the College Arms were granted, they were Sir William’s with the colours reversed. Nowadays a more modern image is used but it is still the same Coat of Arms. The bee is the origin of the school's motto 'Industria'. Its motif features prominently around the school. Beehives appear over the now-unused East and West doors of the College. A Bee in stone watches over the front of Malcolm House (1880) and the Prep School. A large bee fronts Kimmerghame (1928) and there is an original lead bee in the porch of the Headmaster’s Lodge.

Fettes tartan
A school tartan was designed in 1996 at the prompting of the Headmaster, Malcom Thyne. It is a fine balance between the traditional kilt colours of green, blue and black and the Fettes colours of chocolate and magenta, with white stripes to add brightness. The Fettes tartan is worn as a kilt by boys and as a kilt skirt by girls who do not have a family tartan. The first showing of the kilt was on the hockey/lacrosse tour of Australia and Japan in 1998.

Fettes in fiction

Body Politic
In his first crime novel Body Politic, published in 1997, featuring detective Qunitilian Dalrymple and set in Edinburgh in 2020 , Paul Johnston features Fettes College as a ruin, “blown to pieces in 2009” after it became a base for drug traders.

James Bond
Whilst expanding on James Bond's back story, Ian Fleming wrote in You Only Live Twice that the spy had attended Fettes College, his father's old school, after having been removed from Eton. "Here the atmosphere was somewhat Calvinistic, and both academic and athletic standards were rigorous. Nevertheless, though inclined to be solitary by nature, he established some firm friendships among the traditionally famous athletic circles, at the school. By the time he left, at the early age of seventeen, he had twice fought for the school as a light-weight and had, in addition, founded the first serious judo class at a British public school." While Fleming never claimed there was any other source for the name of Bond than James Bond, an American ornithologist, there was a real life James Bond who did attend Fettes. He was a frogman with the Special Boat Service, much as the fictional character Bond has a naval background. The school had his "Who's Who' entry copied and framed over the Second Master's office door in one of its main corridors. This has since been removed.

Captain Britain

Later to become Marvel Comics' Captain Britain, the British equivalent of Captain America, Brian Braddock was born to aristocratic parents in the town of Maldon, Essex. After falling upon hard times, Brian's family had lost their place in society, leaving Brian a lonely yet gifted child who immerses himself in the study of Physics. A prodigious talent, Brian is selected to attend Fettes College where he excels in his studies. Following the death of his parents (Sir James and Lady Elizabeth) in what seemed to be a laboratory accident, Brian accepts a fellowship at Darkmoor nuclear research centre. When the facility is attacked by the Reaver, Brian tries to find help by escaping on his motorcycle. Although he crashes his bike in a nearly fatal accident, Merlyn and his daughter the Omniversal Guardian Roma appear to the badly injured Brian. They give him the chance to be the superhero Captain Britain. He is offered a choice: the Amulet of Right or the Sword of Might. Considering himself to be no warrior and unsuited for the challenge, he rejects the Sword and chooses the Amulet. This choice transforms Brian Braddock into Captain Britain, the champion of the British Isles.

There have only been nine headmasters of the school since it was founded:
  • 1870 - 1889 Alexander Potts
  • 1890 - 1919 William Heard
  • 1919 - 1945 Alec Ashcroft
  • 1945 - 1958 Donald Crichton-Miller
  • 1958 - 1971 Ian McIntosh
  • 1971 - 1979 Anthony Chenevix-Trench
  • 1979 - 1988 Cameron Cochrane
  • 1988 - 1998 Malcolm Thyne
  • 1998 - to date Michael Spens

Notable Old Fettesians
  • Lt-Col William Herbert Anderson, VC
  • Tommy Armour, golfer
  • The Viscount of Arbuthnott, KT, CBE, Director of Scottish Widows (1978”“94); Lord High Commissioner of the Church of Scotland (1986”“87)
  • Major General The Viscount of Arbuthnott, CB, CBE, DSO, MC
  • Frank Barnwell, Chief designer of the Bristol bomber, Blenheim fighter, etc.
  • Fereydoon Batamanghelidj, Persian/Iranian doctor
  • John Hay Beith, (Ian Hay) writer
  • Sir John Blelloch, KCB, Former Permanent Secretary at the Northern Ireland Office
  • Hugh Enes Blackmore, performer in the Gilbert and Sullivan operas in the late 19th century.
  • Tony Blair, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 2 May 1997 to 27 June 2007, now the Quartet on the Middle East's envoy; the Leader of the Labour Party from 1994 to 2007 and the MP for Sedgefield from 1983 to 2007.
  • Sir William Blair, High Court judge and elder brother of Tony Blair
  • Frans ten Bos, rugby player and businessman.
  • Lord Coulsfield, Senator of the College of Justice in Scotland; Lockerbie trial judge; Privy Counsellor
  • Norman Cameron, poet
  • Alan Archibald Campbell-Swinton, electrical engineer and television pioneer
  • Hugh Crichton-Miller, psychiatrist, founder of the Tavistock Clinic
  • General John de Chastelain, CMM, Canadian. Chairman Independent International Commission on Decommissioning, Northern Ireland peace process
  • Angus Deaton, Professor of Economics and President of the American Economic Association
  • Sir William Hamilton Fyfe, Principal of Queen's University and of the University of Aberdeen
  • Sir Bill Gammell, Scottish rugby international and CEO Cairn Energy plc
  • Josias Cunningham - Northern Irish businessman and politician.
  • Nicholas Hammond, CBE, classicist and spy
  • George Campbell Hay, poet in English and Scottish Gaelic amongst other languages, who wryly called Fettes College a little piece of "Forever England".
  • William Theodore Heard, Cardinal (1959), Dean of the Roman Rota (1958)
  • Cdr Alexander Mitchell Hodge, GC VRD, awarded George Cross
  • Lord Jamieson, former Scottish Unionist politician and judge
  • Paul Johnston, Novelist
  • Richard Lambert, Former Editor of The Financial Times; Former member of Bank of England MPC; Director-General of Confederation of British Industry from 2006
  • Ross Leckie, writer (not to be confused with Canadian writer of same name)
  • Lord Selwyn-Lloyd, Baron Selwyn Lloyd CH PC, Foreign Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Sir Robert Bruce Lockhart Author; British rep. to provisional Czech Govt.(1940”“41); Dir.-Gen. Political Warfare Executive (1941”“45)
  • Vice-Admiral Roderick Macdonald KBE (G35) Chief of Staff to C-in-C Allied Naval Forces (1973”“77), artist
  • Lieutenant Donald MacKintosh, VC, awarded Victoria Cross
  • Lieutenant Hector Lachlan Stewart MacLean VC, awarded Victoria Cross
  • Lord MacLean, Member of the Judicial Appointments Board in Scotland. Former Head of School
  • The Rt. Hon. Iain Macleod, Minister of Labour, Colonial Secretary and Chancellor of the Exchequer
  • Lord Drumalbyn, Under-Sec. of State, Scottish Office (1955”“60); Parl. Sec., Board of Trade (1960”“62)
  • Major Matthew Fontaine Maury Meiklejohn, VC, awarded Victoria Cross
  • Justin Melck, rugby player for Western Province, the Super 14 side Stormers, Munster Rugby and now Saracens
  • David Murray, Chairman & Managing Director, Murray International Holdings; Chairman, Rangers Football Club plc
  • Lord Normand, Lord Justice General; Lord President of Court of Session (1935”“47); Lord of Appeal (1947”“53)
  • David Ogilvy, founder of Ogilvy, Benson & Mather, advertising pioneer
  • Air Chief Marshal Sir George Pirie, former Inspector-General of the RAF
  • David Reid, Chairman of Tesco
  • Sir Sidney Rowlatt, judge and chairman of the Rowlatt committee
  • W. C. Sellar, co-author of 1066 and All That , Head of School 1917 and taught at the school.
  • The Rt. Hon. Viscount Simon, in Churchill's Government, Home Secretary, Foreign Secretary, Chancellor of the Exchequer, Lord Chancellor, former Head of School.
  • Tilda Swinton, screen actress and Oscar winner, attended in her sixth year.
  • D. R. Thorpe, political biographer, including lives of Selwyn Lloyd (Old Fettesian), and the Prime Ministers Sir Alec Douglas-Home, Sir Anthony Eden and Harold Macmillan.
  • Michael Tippett, composer
  • Ruthven Todd Scottish poet and novelist, known also as an editor of William Blake and as an artist
  • Sir John Ward, former Chairman of Scottish Enterprise
  • General Sir Robert Whigham, former Adjutant-General to the Forces
  • Lord Woolf, lawyer, Master of the Rolls and Lord Chief Justice
Four Old Fettesians have won the Victoria Cross and one the George Cross, please see the above list for details. Former pupils of the school sometimes refer to themselves as "OF" and can use the post nominal "OF".

Captain America "Uh, it's Captain Britain, right? Tony was telling me all about that submarine rescue you guys did a few weeks back. That was pretty amazing." Captain Britain "Oh, Tony's hilarious, isn't he? Everyone here just absolutely loved him. We've all been very excited about meeting you too, Captain. Did you know I used to have a poster of you on my wall when I was a pupil up at Fettes College in Edinburgh?" " The first meeting of Captains America and Britain

Building Activity

  • removed a media
    about 6 years ago via OpenBuildings.com