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Dumfries Academy

Dumfries Academy
©2016 Gazetteer for Scotland

Dumfries Academy

The oldest and most notable of the town's schools, Dumfries Academy occupies a site between Academy Street and the River Nith. It can trace its history back to 1330 when the Burgh Exchequer Rolls record that a monk called 'Master John' was appointed as Rector of the school. The complex of buildings which it occupies today was begun in 1897, when the Minerva Building was constructed by local architect Frank Carruthers. This fine Classical edifice, with its grand Ionic portico and central cupola rising from winged lions, is now B-listed. It features a gilded statue of Minerva, representing 'Learning', which reaches skywards from the cupola, and fine carved stonework beneath the first-floor windows. Adjacent is another red-sandstone building, also now B-listed, which was constructed in 1936 in the Art Deco style by John R. Hill, the Dumfries County Architect, to meet the demands of a growing school. Inside are memorials to former pupils who lost their lives in the First and Second World Wars. Behind the Minerva Building is a utilitarian concrete and glass tower which was completed in 1982. Serving as a grammar school until 1983, the Academy is today a comprehensive secondary school run by Dumfries and Galloway Council, with a roll of 547 pupils (2015). Its motto is Doctrina Promovet, meaning 'learning promotes' and the pupils are divided into three academic houses taking their names from nearby geographical features; namely Criffel, Nithsdale and Solway.

The school has a lengthy list of notable former pupils including: savings bank founder Rev. Dr. Henry Duncan (1774 - 1846), explorer Sir John Richardson (1787 - 1865), sea captain Sir James Anderson (1824-93), psychiatrist Sir James Crichton-Browne (1840 - 1938), playwright Sir J.M. Barrie (1860 - 1937), artist Chris Fergusson (1876 - 1957), diplomat Sir Alexander Knox Helm (1893 - 1964), missionary Jane Haining (1897 - 1944), footballer Dave Halliday (1897 - 1970), actor John Laurie (1897 - 1980), cartoonist Alexander S. Graham (1911-91), artist Sir Robin Philipson (1916-92), singer John Hanson (1922-98), adventurer Jock Wishart (b.1951), and television presenters Stephen Jardine (b.1963) and Neil Oliver (b.1967).


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