Dunblane school gym reduced to rubble

Thursday 11 April 1996 23:02

The Dunblane primary school gym where Thomas Hamilton massacred 16 children and their teacher was demolished yesterday.

No more than a pile of rubble remains on the spot where Hamilton carried out his slaughter on 13 March, before killing himself with his own gun.

A group of journalists was allowed into the school to witness the final stages of the pounds 30,000 operation to tear down the 1960s building and replace it with a temporary garden.

A mechanical digger has been feeding a shuttle fleet of trucks which ship the rubble away to an undisclosed landfill site.

The pounds 10,000 cost of the demolition itself was provided free by a local contractor.

The only remaining sign that the low pile of rubble was once a school building was a blue wall, with five radiators now incongruously exposed to the elements. Once it was an inside wall of the gym, but now it forms the gable end of the school assembly block which abutted the demolished building.

This will be turned into an outside wall, decorated to match the rest of the school.

The demolition operation has been carried out in privacy, behind wire- mesh barriers and with police standing guard at the school entrances.

But two bereaved families had turned up briefly to watch the demolition in progress.

Mike Robbins, chairman of the school board, said yesterday: "The removal of the gym is a significant step.

"It allows the parents of Dunblane to draw a line under the events, and enables us to look to the future to build upon what's happening here today."

He went on: "It takes away that focal point and allows the teachers in particular to think ahead and to plan for the kids coming back on Monday after the Easter holiday."

When the site has been cleared a bed of fine golden gravel will be put down. This will be dotted with tubs of flowers, some supplied by the nearby Gleneagles hotel.

Some of this temporary garden will be in place by Monday when the school's 700 children return from the Easter break, and it should be completed later in the week by men working outside school hours.

A memorial garden will be created on the site and a new gym will be erected elsewhere within the school complex.

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