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A drawing of the Academy in Woodstock St .

Early Buildings

Kilmarnock Academy buildings which existed on previous sites were much smaller than the present school. The parish school which gave rise to the Academy was located in College Wynd, behind the Laigh Kirk, in the heart of old Kilmarnock (see Kilmarnock Academy: History). It was a very simple structure. In 1693 a thatcher was paid to cover the roof with turf and the following year it was fitted with glazed windows. The next site was probably the one of 1752 when the school moved to a single-storey house at the corner of Green Street next to the Corn Exchange that stood on the site now occupied by the Palace Theatre.

The foundation of the first building designated as Kilmarnock Academy was laid on 25 June 1807 and was opened on 26 April 1808. It was described by Archibald McKay as being:

of two storeys, containing four classrooms, and with its playground occupied most of the triangular space bounded by Green Street, London Road and the Kilmarnock Water (Archibald McKay, The History of Kilmarnock, 5th edn (Archibald McKay: Kilmarnock, 1909)).

(Parts of the original Academy building were incorporated into what became the side halls of the Grand Hall, London Road -pictured left.

The Georgian architecture of this part of the latter building, which is odds with the rest of it, shows that it is evidently a surviving fragment of the Academy.The Kilmarnock Water is on the other side of the wall on the right.)

The architect was Robert Johnstone, the person responsible for the new Laigh Kirk building which had been erected in 1802. The site is nowadays behind the Kilmarnock Grand Hall. The building cost is not known but it was insured for £600. By the mid-1860s it was in poor condition and a government report of 1868 noted:

The furniture is bad and worn out. The necessary repairs are not done in a liberal spirit by the heritors or the Town Council. There are gaps in the windows from broken panes of glass which seems no-one's duty to repair. The floors and the walls were uneven and dirtyÉ. Altogether the place presents an appearance of dilapidation and decay (Third Report, Argyll Commission, pp.250-1, quoted in William Boyd, Education in Ayrshire through Seven Centuries (University of London Press: London, 1961), p.154).

The Academy in Woodstock St .

It was the new Kilmarnock Burgh School Board, established in 1872, which erected a new building for the Academy (see Kilmarnock Academy: History). The architect was William Railton, also responsible for the initial planning of John Finnie Street and the Sheriff Court (now the Procurator Fiscal's Office), and he chose for his design the Elizabethan Gothic style.

The foundation stone was laid on 20 November 1875 and the new school cost £4 500. It stood on the corner of Woodstock Street and North Hamilton Street, on the site of the present-day Woodstock Centre, and was opened in August 1876. But within twenty years the new school was severely overcrowded and a bigger building was needed. The move to the present site - on the hill above the original Kilmarnock Academy building - proved to be far-sighted. The new location allowed for the growth of the school, and the physical expansion of Kilmarnock Academy closely mirrored the increasing access there was to education throughout the twentieth century.