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A New Site


The burgeoning of the school under Dickie's leadership meant it needed better facilities. Pupils came to the school from all over east and central Ayrshire. A fresh site was acquired and a grand new building was erected. The new Kilmarnock Academy cost £23 000 and its foundation stone was laid on 31 October 1896. Such was the pressure for extra space, it was used from 12 September 1898, before it was completed, and was not formally opened until 9 February 1899 by Major-General Sir Robert Murdoch Smith , a former Academy pupil.

Since the erection of the school on the present new site, it has continued to develop. Early in the twentieth century it had two talented headteachers, David Murray (1904-7) and Dr James Clark (1907-26). Clark continued to promote the Academy's excellence in science teaching. It was under the latter's direction that the new Kilmarnock Technical School on Dick Road was opened in 1910 and it functioned as an extension of the Academy. In the Edwardian period there was some interest in Scotland in the German model of a technical education and it is doubtless significant that Clark had studied in Germany and had formerly been in charge of the Cornish technical schools. With the new laboratories and rooms for art, cookery, laundry and engineering, the school proudly boasted that it was “one of the best equipped educational institutions in the country.” Eventually the building of a separate Technical College in Kilmarnock meant that the ‘Old Tech' was used solely by the Academy pupils.

It was also during Clark 's time as rector that the school suffered its greatest cataclysm. In the carnage of the First World War 143 former teachers and pupils were killed. A war memorial, designed by local architect W.F. Valentine, in Carrara marble was erected. The design and references on it are heavily influenced by Classical models of the heroic age. It copies Roman architecture and the date is in Roman numerals while the Greek inscription on it is from Pindar and literally translates:

Both over land and across the sea afar does their name fly; it leaps even to the Ethiopians.

After the Second World War, in which the school lost 72 former pupils, a book of remembrance was placed in front of the monument to the earlier war and the Memorial Library was established next to it.

Such was the status of the school by the early twentieth century that when Alexander Cumming was appointed rector in 1926, the post of headmaster of Kilmarnock Academy was regarded as one of the leading educational appointments in the country. In the later twentieth century the school was ably led by three distinguished rectors: Robert McIntyre (1938-64), James Hislop , (1964-77) and Frank Donnelly (1977-97).