A brief history of Leith Academy

Leith Academy is one of the oldest schools in  Scotland.  Its usual date of founding is given as 1560, but there are references to the "grammer scule of Leith" as early as 1521.  In 1560 Leith Grammar School was placed under the Control of the Kirk Session of Leith Parish, and remained there until 1806.

Leith Academy 1806-1931
The Leith Links Site, Leith Academy 1806-1931

During its first years, there is no information as to where the school was sited.  However, in 1636 the school is mentioned as meeting in Trinity House, where, apart from a few years when Cromwell's army used Trinity house for stores, it stayed until 1710.

After disagreements about the rent for Trinity House (£3 per year) the Kirk Session moved the school to the King James' hospital, which stood within the present ground of South Leith Churchyard. But by 1792, the school was "damp confined and otherwise unhealthy for boys". Following such protest from the local people, the Kirk Session agreed to build the new Leith High school on Leith Links. Public subscriptions raised almost £3000 and the new school was completed in 1806.

The Duke Street Site, 1931-1991
The Duke Street Site, 1931-1991

This building served the students of Leith for many years, changing its name to Leith Academy in 1888. But the increasing numbers of students finally resulted in the building of Leith Academy in Duke Street in 1931. The building remains as Leith Primary School.

The Present Site at Academy Park
The Present Site at Academy Park

The Leith Academy we know today was opened in May 1991, following a long campaign by parents, students and staff. Regarded as one of the finest school buildings in Europe, it is a fitting testament to the long and proud history of Education in Leith.

For an insight into the management and running of the Academy from 1803-1872 see pages 7 & 8 of the 1921 Leith Academy Magazine while a more comprehensive account of the first 400 years of Leith Academy can be found in Leith Academy 1560 - 1960 .