Urban detectives create digital record of Kilmarnock Academy

A new dawn is fast approaching for Kilmarnock Academy, which moves to the William McIlvanney Campus in the spring – its fourth site in its illustrious 210 year history.

Ahead of the move, a group of S1 and S2 pupils, supported by school librarian Valerie Black, have become ‘Urban Detectives’, recording the built heritage of the Old Academy building.

‘Urban Detectives’ is a Historic Environment Scotland project which encourages people of all ages to explore their urban environment and record their finds.

The work can include taking photos of roofs, window shapes and designs, interiors such as staircases and other interesting features.

During their detective work, the pupils learned the first Kilmarnock Academy, opened in 1808 at Green Street. A small part of the original building forms some of the Grand Hall which can still be seen today.

The school subsequently moved to North Hamilton Street and then to its present site on Elmbank Drive. The tower and observatory is the highest point in Kilmarnock.

The old Academy building has numerous historic features with separate boys and girls entrances, slate pencil sharpeners fixed to the sandstone wall and even an original gas lamp at the Boys’ entrance.
Inside there is the ornate wood crafted janitor’s office and a magnificent memorial which commemorates former pupils who gave their lives during both World Wars.

The pupils selected their favourite photos and uploaded them with a commentary on the architectural feature to a dedicated website for the project – creating a permanent digital record of the old Academy building.

Also included in the archive are scenic views of Kilmarnock, taken from the top of the old school tower.

Kieran Kerr (S2) said: “It was a fantastic to have a chance to dig deeper into our school’s history and get a glimpse of school life from days of old, long ago.”

Hayley Atherton (S2) added: “It was an amazing opportunity and so much fun. I’m pleased we have taken part in a project that helps remember our school’s heritage.”

Once the work was finished, the pupils invited Head Teacher David Rose along to a special presentation where they described what they had learned. Mr Rose presented each pupil with a Heritage Hero Award certificate; recognising their contribution and wider achievement.

Councillor Fiona Campbell, Cabinet Member for Skills and Learning said: “I’m delighted the pupils have had the foresight to record the features and views at the old Kilmarnock Academy building.

“All too often, change happens around us and we miss it as it progresses.

“The pupils’ digital archive will become an important learning resource in the years ahead, giving pupils a chance to look back and remember the old Academy – as they look forward to the fantastic learning opportunities which lie ahead at the new William McIlvanney Campus.”

You can view the images uploaded by the Urban Detectives here:

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