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The Old Tech

The Kilmarnock Technical School on Dick Road was opened in 1910 by Lord Howard de Walden. The money to build it was partly raised by public subscription and partly supplied by government funding. The basement had accommodation for Electrical Engineering, Hydraulics, Mechanical Engineering, Cookery and Laundry. The ground floor had separate laboratories for Chemistry, Physics, Mechanics, Textile Industries and Biology. On the first floor there were rooms for Art, Mechanical Drawing, Building Construction and geometry, textile industries and Mining students. There were also two gardens and a greenhouse. It was to house the Evening Technical Classes but also was intended to ease congestion in the Academy itself. Dr Clark , the then rector of the Academy and the Technical School 's first Principal, proudly boasted that it made the Academy “one of the best equipped educational institutions in the country.”

The Technical School was designed by local architect Gabriel Andrew (1851-1933), also responsible for some of the buildings on John Finnie Street . Andrew has been described by the architectural historian Rob Close as “perhaps the most imaginative of a group of architects practising in Kilmarnock in the early 20th century”, his best work “in a vigorous, almost Glasgow style” (Rob Close, Ayrshire & Arran: an illustrated architectural guide (Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland: Edinburgh, 1992), p.105). Andrew's design for the Technical School was in Edwardian classicism. The later building of an additional wing obscured its lines on the north side, particularly the fine art room windows. With the falling of Kilmarnock Academy 's roll, ‘The Old Tech' closed in 1997.

The Goldberry 1908


Building operations on the Technical School are being pushed rapidly forward, and sanguine hopes are expressed as to its being ready for occupation in September next. This handsome addition to the Academy buildings naturally attracts a considerable amount of attention, and there is a good deal of speculation as to the nature of the work to be carried on within its walls. It is, of course, generally understood that the Evening Technical Classes will find a local habit­ation there, and the plans of the building make it evident that ample provision is being made for their reception. The basement will provide an Electric Engineering Laboratory, a room for Experimental Hydraulics, and another for Heavy Machinery connected with the Engineering Course, together with accommodation for Cookery and Laundry Work. The ground floor will contain the Physical and Chemical' Laboratories on the one side, with . a large lecture hall between; and on the other, Engineering and Biological Laboratories, with accom­modation for ordinary classroom work. Most of the space in the centre will be occupied by a room 6o' feet by 30 feet for Mechanical Drawing and general assemblies.

The top, floor will supply a suite of rooms for the study of Pure and Applied Art , a. laboratory for Applied Mechanics, a room for Mining students, a room for Textile industries, with a large central room similar to the one on the ground floor and intended primarily for classes in Geometry and in Building Construction. It is obvious, therefore, that as far as the more important local industries are concerned, the Evening students in Kilmarnock will have splendid opportunities for laying a solid, practical, and scientific foundation for their future industrial or professional careers.

In addition, however, to providing accommodation for evening work, the Technical School will, it is hoped, greatly relieve the present con­gested condition in the Academy proper. Not only will the present Chemical and Physical Laboratories, together with the Art and the Cookery rooms, be liberated for other purposes, but it is expected that almost all pupils who enter the Higher Grade School with no intention of taking their Intermediate Certificate, will be promptly transferred to Day Supplementary Classes in the new building. As it is estimated that there are at least one hundred and fifty pupils in Classes I and II in this condition, the relief that such a scheme promises is as obvious as it is welcome. If supplementary courses could be established in Mechanical and Electrical Engineering, in Rural Industries, in Commercial and Civil Service work, and in Domestic Science, there would be strong temptation for responsible parents to keep their sons and daughters at such courses till the age of fifteen, instead of withdrawing them at fourteen, as so many do at present. Such preliminary courses coupled, of course, with a certain amount of literary instruction, would be an incalculable boon to the many whose future career lies along one of the several lines indicated, and would have a most gratifying influence on the quality of the work in the Evening Classes.