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
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.)
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:
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,
The Academy in Woodstock St .
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.