The Old Banff Academy

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Old Banff Academy at Market Place

Records of a “grammar school” in Banff go back 470 years, to a legal document of 1544 signed by William Clerk, but the direct history goes back to the granting of a charter for a Grammar School in Banff in 1585.  This school was administered by the Town Council but with the  teaching being the duty of the church.  The school buildings were in the “Gledisgreen”.  This is the building on Market Place which is currently occupied partly by Banff Tyre Services.

By the end of the 18th century, the then rector was warning that the “room is insufficient” and later comments were made that it was “unhealthy and subject to frequent inundations”.  Funding for a new building came from James Wilson.

Banff Academy Walker Avenue

James died in 1799, leaving his fortune as a “charitable trust” to the town of Banff.  This was used in 1835 to build an “Institution” for boys and girls which would include an Infant School, the Grammar School (still boys only), a museum for Natural History and lecture rooms; the Grammar School moved into its new buildings on Walker Avenue with, its distinctive pillars in 1838.  However girls were only admitted to the Grammar School from 1866.

With the passing of the Education Act in 1872, the Grammar School became known as Banff BurghSchool, finally becoming an Academy in 1903.

Meantime, the Academy itself, still serving both primary and secondary pupils, continued to develop.  In 1911, a new block with a large hall was opened.  Although the 1838 building was severely damaged in a fire in 1921, the façade was saved and rebuilding was complete within 2 years.

 In 1934, the Junior Building of Banff Primary was opened in Walker Avenue; it remained the main part of the primary school until the new building incorporating the original 1838 façade was completed in 2002.

By the late 1960s, the Academy needed much more space than the original building provided and a great deal more specialised provision for science and other subjects.  In 1967, therefore, work began on a site in Bellevue Road and was completed in November 1969 with the official opening taking place in 1970.

The buildings and grounds remain substantially the same although there have been modifications and considerable refurbishment.  Work is scheduled to start soon on community and sports centre provision adjoining the school and swimming pool.