DURING its 200 years as a town, Helensburgh has had a number or private schools — particularly for nursery age children.
Helensburgh Heritage Trust has received an inquiry from Robert Whitton, in Edinburgh, who has been researching one such school, Miss Ottman’s, and has unearthed much of the family tree.
Robert said: “I wonder if any Trust members or website visitors have any information about this school. It appears that some people who went to Larchfield School went there pre-school.”
He has discovered that Miss Ottman — Phyllis Elizabeth Ottmann — was the second youngest of five children born to Hugo Ottmann who was born in Germany in 1846 and died in 1906.
An iron ore and esparto grass merchant, on February 3 1880 in Clapham, London, he married Mary Greer Macdonald, who was born Glasgow on December 22-1857 and died in 1922 at 144 West King Street, Helensburgh.
The daughter of timber merchant Alexander Macdonald and his wife, Amelia Jane Greer, Mary had three sisters and one brother.
The spelling of the family name varied but they may have dropped the second ‘m’ because of the German connection.
Their eldest child was Amelia Greer Ottmann, born on March 19 1881 in Cathcart.
She was the secretary of the Woman’s United Service Club at 12 Drumsheugh Gardens, Edinburgh, and died on February 26 1935.
Next in line was Leah Greer Ottmann, who was born on August 27 1884 at 11 Lillybank Gardens, Hillhead.
A governess, she travelled to Hong Kong, New York, San Francisco, and France in the late 1920’s. She had an address in 1935 at 18 Queens Gardens, St Andrews, and in 1949 she was at 30 Holland Park, London. She died on June 20 1956 at Clyde View Eventide Home in Helensburgh.
The proprietor of the school, Phyllis Elizabeth Ottmann, was born in Glasgow on March 23 1896 and died in the burgh in 1975.
The family seems to have had a home in Glasgow in 1901 at 5 Windsor Quadrant in Govan and at Annachmore, Rosneath, from 1891, and at Arisaig, Craigendoran, in 1911 after her father died in 1906.
In 1912 Miss Ottmann was at Hermitage School where she gained her School Leaving Certificate, then in 1929 she was at the Royal Victoria Patriotic School, Wandsworth Common, London, where presumably she was a teacher.
There was also a son, Richard Henry Ottmann who was born in Glasgow in 1902 and who died on November 22 1963 in Willow Cottage, Carrbridge, Inverness. He went to Larchfield in about 1915.
He was a railway worker and in due course was divorced from his wife, Catherine Grace Rose Macdonald whom he married in 1933 at Duthill, near Carrbridge.
So that is the family — what about Miss Ottman’s School?
The Helensburgh Directory for 1939 lists Miss Ottman’s School as in the Victoria Hall in Sinclair Street (pictured), with her home at 38 West Princes Street. Pre-World War Two, the school might have been elsewhere in the town.
Any more information, and indeed memories, would be welcome.