Tawse

I have been reading the posts with interest.

As a child in Scotland the Tawse was used regularly and given to both boys and girls. Various different types of belt… all very painful.

Keen to hear from anyone who was belted in school and very keen to hear from anyone who was in a Residential School or List “D” school where it was often given on the bottom. I actually have one of the 3 tail Lochgelly XH’s used in these special schools.

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Hi John McLean. I assume that you haven’t posted here before your post above and your very comprehensive response in the Survey thread. If so, my personal welcome to this estimable Forum.

I note your reference above to the use of the tawse in Residential or List “D” schools. A long time ago (well, July 2008 ) I had a thread called Scottish Approved School Punishment. This was prompted by an entry I found in a forum dedicated to Female Juvenile Detention Institutions in the UK. The entry didn’t refer to the use of a tawse, but it did refer to punishment on the bottom, with a birch in the 1930s in a Scottish Institution.

I posted the link in question, though I was somewhat suspicious of it. However it is suspected that someone connected with the Forum in question reads this Forum, and the entry was rapidly deleted so that my link no longer worked. Happily my esteemed fellow contributor here, Yetanotheranotherlurker, realised what had happened and recovered the article from his browser cache and posted its text. His is the third post in the thread. The thread can accessed by clicking on the red thread name above.

Later in the thread I linked a document on a Scottish Government site entitled ‘Historical Abuse Systemic Review: Residential Schools and Children’s Homes in Scotland 1950 to 1995’ (still to be found here. My link is actually to Chapter 3, but the entire document can readily be accessed from links at the top of that page. In view of what the Review says, while I doubt the birching story I find little difficulty in accepting that the tawse was used as you describe in those schools.

Sadly, as many did then, my thread eventually fell victim to what we in this forum refer to as fun pesters – idiots with little concern for accuracy and truth interested only in posting rubbish. If you read down it you’ll know when you get there, just watch for posts from Asquith. From then on there is the odd sensible post, but they are a bit thin on the ground.

Incidentally the forum from which my original, rapidly deleted, link came, ‘Female Juvenile Detention Institutions in the UK’, is still to be found here. The latest post I can easily spot is from 2009, so it may not be very active.


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Your descrriptions of the beltings you recived were interesting, and, if you don’t mind me saying so, frighteningly matter of fact!

Another Lurker kindly referred to my photo spread of ‘the valkerie'(!) Valerie Thornton. My interest in the tawse came from one completely unforgettable incident in my last few weeks at junior school . I wrote about the incident in detail on this forum at

http://www.network54.com/Forum/198833/t … led+power-

Ever since then I admit I have nothing but admiration for the Scottish kids who face the belt everyday! I was just unfortunate. As I now know the headmistress wasn’t a monster, but convinced she was right . I, of course, was equally convinced of the opposite!!!! Naturally she was wrong  whilst I was, of course, right 

My lea was not that far from the Scottish border, and many teachers migrated from the north. As they allowd the strap for punishment purposes it made sense presumably to allow Scottish teachers to use their familar belts rather than insisting on a specific model as some authorities ( eg ?Manchester , I believe) did .

I felt the picture spread was pretty accurate from my memories at least.


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Back in June 2009 I first mentioned of this formidable instrument of correction known as the “Huntly”. It is so wide that it would be impossible for it not to overlap a hand. It is extremely supple. It looks like no other tawse, if you are a collector it may be worth considering. How would it compare with others? By suppleness it would not feel like the dreaded ruler, I would imagine, that was used on my knuckles not for misbeahvior but for lack of effort learning the times table. My knuckles hurt wvwn more than when I put my Dukes up and fought by the Queensbury rules. 

A new hermeneutic has been given to that ruler on the knuclkes xperience by a long lost alumnus. He mentioned sexual abuse I was unaware of. I was taught that private were called privates for a reason and only your folks and a doctor can touch them but that didn’t keep me from touching them other that for hygienic reasons, when I was young of course  I’ve been told there is some advantage of being ambidexrtous while sinning against purity alone.  When I quickly corrected 11 X 12 by responding 122 and quickly corrected it by saying 132 she had already sentenced me to the ruler on the palm of the hand in her mind so she took my “correction” as talking back that merited it on the knuckles. While my memory hearkens back to swallowing screams and not like a bellowing banshee heard over the public announcement system that made me a hero of sorts; it was my staring down the Nun, a no no, for them at the novitiate to their mother superior. My father being an officer taught me to look a person straight in the eye.

I was a straight A student, maybe a B here or there, but I flunked music, art and penmanship, not surprising, having been switched foron the left or devil’s hand in first grade. It’s an advantage in tennis, protecting the alley when playing at the net position in doubles. Also, I’ve been told you can switch hands withiut missing a stroke. As I said before, the sister of no mercy said if you failed three courses you had to repeat the year. My father explained that those courses didn’t count for it was “readin, ritin and rithemetic”. They placed a red mark under any grade below 70; I guess to help parents whose rithmetic skills were wanting.

Given my knowledge and interests in school corporal punishment on both sides of the pond my ambidexteous abilities should not be gainsayed. I do not appreciate it when, too often not gently, I repeat myself, I have given the link on the Huntly tawse. All meaning is context derivative so if I didn’t repeat myself, a point I can’t argue, it would not be me, however annoying it may be to others and me an honorary member to boot, no pun intended.

IMO I have been taking to task, often unkindly for my redundancy, within and between postings, and writings as sans segue as my mind, my knickers are not atwist (;(;(; for it is not that unbearable. I hope some find this link helpful. The Huntly, supple though it be for it cannot stand on its own, it’s not meant for the hand IMO and one would be pressed to find tawse proof knickers.

Tawse Proof Knickers

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I’m not an expert on the tawse, but those who are advise me that narrower tawses were the most feared. Early Robert Philp and John Dick products from the 1950s were apparently very harsh.

Straps made by Donald Wright of Huntly were big, but were sometimes made of buffalo hide which tends to have an open, spongy texture. One person who has extensive knowledge and experience of these things has said, “Huntly tawses look impressive but have more bark than bite!”

Regarding the Polish bootmaker, my correspondent said, “No self-respecting teacher would have a Borak rather than a John Dick tawse. The students, however, would have a distinct preference for the former.”

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Perfectly described: open, spongy texture. Church Antique was ebay vendor of one that was a part of a historal collection that I held in my own hands so I can attest to it but not on the receiving end. The McRostie had a primary tawse that was very supple and light. Lochleggy, as a rule seemed rigid and not spongy.

As painful as hands are as a target it would appear no long term damage or is that historically true, however horrific in the eyes of prof n and

For the sisters the rulers became a universal image that lingers for generations. The ruler, however rigid, was, in our school and imagine most schools, lighter and while it hurt like hell, seemed mild in comparisons. With sisters of no mercy the girls were not mollycoddled by any means but were spared the heavier yardstick that became more the instument of correction chosen in 7th and 8th grade. Perhaps, unlike 5ive and Brides of Christ, it could have been that our classes were coed that girls were spared the yardstick on the bottom. Embarrassing for some girls and a near occasion of sin for some boys. 

On a lighter note, the sticks were graded in the principals office. We thought it had to with what grade you were in and not size so we speculated the girls got a grade younger but unbeknownst to us the developments of puberty would have changed that calculus and not to their benefit. It really was irrelevant with the change in the administration in sixth grade when we saw the outlines of the first colorful bra under one of the girl’s white blouse.  It was enough to give the poor girl a reputation. I was less aware from my POV for it was the hands and bottoms that attracted me

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An interesting account of a belting with a tawse from another forum , asking the question ” Did you ever get the cane at school” The poster appears to be female judging from her other posts and is from Lanarkshire.

“I got “the belt” quite a few times at school as well. I remember getting those “extra” hits too for drawing my hands away.

It was agony if the teacher hit you on the wrists.

One teacher I remember getting it from was a science teacher who used to keep the belt over his shoulder underneath his lab coat.

If you had never had it from him before it was always a real surprise as you’d be standing ready to receive it with him standing in front of you and as far as you could see he didn’t have a belt.

He would reach under his lab coat and bring it down on your hands just when you’re not expecting it. He was a right bastard”

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First of all, thanks for all the messages. I have been off line for a week or two and just remembered about the site.

Yes, when the belt was given it was applied to the length of the hand. I never ever saw it given across the hand. Mind you there were some strange ways to give the belt. I only ever heard of this being done to a girl but one girl who was a real trouble maker but could not take the belt (kept pulling away) was made to sit in front of the female teacher who was going to belt her. Her skirt was pulled up to reveal her bare legs and she was made to hold her hands out above legs (cross handed). Obvioulsy if she pulled away it would hit her thighs and be very painful.