Academy building from 1859 Ordnance Survey map

Irvine Royal Academy - History


Irvine Royal Academy is one of few schools in Scotland which contain the 'Royal' appellation.

The original school was located in the Kirkgatehead, at the end of Hill Street, near to the parish church In 1572, King James VI provided funds to found the King's School of Irvine.

A new building was erected in 1814-16, the foundation stone being laid on 22 April 1814. At the event there was a parade of two bands, members of the freemasons, town councillors, ministers, members of the local trades, 370 pupils plus others who had subscribed to the cost.

The new Academy building had been designed by the architect, David Hamilton of Glasgow. The school was opened on 3 July 1816, at which time the old schools in the burgh were closed. At the time, it was decreed that the 10 December every year should be a holiday for the pupils in Irivne, to mark the birthday of Hugh Montgomerie, 12th Earl of Eglinton.

A Royal Charter granted in 1818 for the directorship of Irvine Royal Academy, which included the Earl of Eglinton, eleven councillors and all who subscribed £50 or more. 

In the mid nineteenth century the school became more select, pupils paying fees to attend. In 1868 there were 160 pupils, who paid £460. Fess for the school were abolished in 1927.

The school was taken over by Irvine School Board in 1872 as a result of the Education (Scotland) Act.

The old school became unsuitable for education purposes and in 1899 it was demolished to allow the erection of a new building. This was designed by local architect, John Armour. During the period of construction, the pupils were educated in various halls in the burgh. The new school, built of red sandstone, was officially opened on 27 December 1901 by the Earl of Eglinton. At the time the name Irvine Royal Academy was revived.

A new building was erectedfrom Ballochmyle sandstone in the Grecian style. It opened on 27 December 1901.

After fees for secondary pupils wee abolished in 1927, the school roll rose and it became necessary to build an Annexe on Kilwinning Road, on the academy's sports field, in 1932. The school's primary department was closed in 1952.

A replacement building, which became Ravenspark Academy, opened in August 1969.

In 1983 the BBC made a documentary on the 'Save Our School' campaign which existed to prevent the closure of the old Irvine Royal Academy. This can be watched on YouTube here.

The old buildings remained open to serve pupils from Dreghorn and Kilwinning. In August 1992, the two academies were amalgamated into Irvine Royal Academy and in June 1993 the old school and its annexe were closed. The old school of 1901 was converted into offices. The Annexe was demolished and the site was developed for housing.

The new Irvine Royal Academy was officially opened by Councillor Elliot Gray JP on 22 March 1994.


Rectors/Headmasters/Head Teachers

Dux Pupils

Ravenspark Academy History