Greenock Academy

The Greenock Academy
The Greenock Academy Building as 'Waterloo Road' in 2012
Madeira Street

PA16 7XE

Coordinates 55°57′22″N 4°46′44″W / 55.956°N 4.779°W / 55.956; -4.779Coordinates: 55°57′22″N 4°46′44″W / 55.956°N 4.779°W / 55.956; -4.779
Type Secondary School (1855–2011)
Secondary and Primary School (1855–1976)
Motto 'Hinc Vera Virtus'
('From This Place Comes True Worth')
Established 1855
Closed 2011
as Greenock Academy 2015
(Waterloo Road Demolishment Building)
Local authority Inverclyde
Headteacher Moira McColl (2001-2011)
Gender Coeducational
Age 11 to 18
Colour(s) Maroon / white     (Greenock Academy Colours)
Maroon And Yellow     (Waterloo Road)

The Greenock Academy was a mixed non-denominational school in the west end of Greenock, Scotland, founded in 1855, originally independent, later a grammar school with a primary department, and finally a Comprehensive school only for ages eleven to eighteen. On 24 June 2011, Greenock Academy closed after a history spanning 156 years. Between 2012 and 2014 the school became the home of BBC One school drama Waterloo Road.


The Greenock Academy was opened as a fee paying secondary and primary establishment in September 1855 in Nelson Street, Greenock. The school lay at this central Greenock location for almost a century of its lifetime before the building was demolished and moved to a modern building in Madeira Street of Greenock's west end, on the site of the old Balclutha mansion. The Nelson Street site is now occupied by the Finnart Campus of James Watt College. The new Academy featured both a secondary and primary school with the later named 'south wing' area being the primary school. On 29 December 1968 BBC Scotland's version of Songs of Praise came from the school; the rest of the UK saw it from Holy Trinity Platt Church in Rusholme, Manchester. The school had a yacht club, and competed in the Clark Cup of Mudhook Yacht Club at Helensburgh.[1] Another similar school with a yacht club was Rothesay Academy on the Isle of Bute.

On 4 April 2015, the final stage in the school's history was brought forth as the demolition of the Madeira Street building was announced as being scheduled in September 2015, at an estimated cost of £164,000, following the end of filming use in the then anticipated date of May 2014.[2] Plans for demolition appeared to be brought forward, however, as work began on flattening the former school in February 2015. Future potential use of the Greenock Academy site is currently unknown, but it will be sold off by the council for redevelopment - the Glenpark Early Learning Centre was constructed at the top of the site and completed in 2018.[3]


View from Newark Street, looking up Madeira Street to the entrance.

The primary department was abolished in 1976 and the lower door handles and alphabet tiles still remained into the years as a secondary school. The Madeira Street campus remained open through into the new millennium as Greenock Academy clocked up its 150th year in 2005. Three years later, the school was named as the best non-denominational school in Scotland and still remained within the top 10% of Scottish secondary schools long after the announcement. The disrepair of the ageing building overthrew the academic performance of the academy and in 2011 the school prepared to close after 156 years in service. The Greenock Academy and Gourock High School merged into a new school in the Bayhill area of Gourock. The new school, on the site previously occupied by St Columba's High School, Gourock,[4] is known as Clydeview Academy and opened in 2011.[5]

Waterloo Road

On 27 October 2011, the BBC announced that they had selected the Madeira Street building of Greenock Academy to film a new series of the TV drama Waterloo Road, following the production's move up north to nearby Glasgow. The site was leased from Inverclyde Council [6] On 2 April 2014, it was announced that Waterloo Road was to be cancelled.[citation needed] Filming concluded on the set in August 2014.[7]

Rectors of the Greenock Academy

The principals of the Greenock Academy always had the title of 'Rector'. As of 2008, Alan McDougall and Moira McColl are the only two surviving individuals to have held the post. Upon the merger of Greenock Academy and Gourock High School, a new principal was appointed, Mr William Todd, who remains the incumbent Rector of Clydeview Academy.

Rector Start of office End of office Duration (years) Comments
Robert Buchanan 1855 1860 5 First rector of Greenock Academy. Resigned from office in 1860.
Archibald Montgomerie 1860 1872 12 Originally a Mathematics Scholar.
Edward L. Neilson 1872 1893 21 First Classics Scholar to take up the post.
Alexander Gemmell 1893 1930 37 Appointed at the age of 28, he was the longest serving Rector of the Academy, serving for 37 years, and was largely responsible for the beginning of formal 'Games' at the Greenock Academy.
William Baird Taylor 1930 1941 11 Previously the principal teacher of English at the academy and rector of Johnstone High School.
William Dewar 1941 1947 6 Resigned from the academy in 1947 to become rector of George Heriot's School in Edinburgh.
James W. Chadwin 1947 1967 20 Rector during the transfer of campuses of the academy.
Robert K. Campbell 1967 1990 23 At the forefront of banning corporal punishment in schools, he abolished the belt in the academy two years before it was officially banned at the national level. Campbell died in 2008.
Alan McDougall 1991 1999 9 The last male rector of Greenock Academy, he retired from the post in December 1999. His deputy rector, Patrick Innes, became the acting principal of the Academy until a permanent successor had been decided.
Moira A. McColl 2000 2011 11 The last rector of Greenock Academy and the only female rector in its history, she was still in office when the school closed in June 2011.

Notable teachers

Notable alumni

Grammar school


  1. ^ Mudhook Yacht Club
  2. ^ "Waterloo Road building to be knocked down following show cancellation". Digital Spy. 4 April 2014. Retrieved 4 April 2014.
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Vision of future for schools", Russell Steele, Greenock Telegraph, 4 March 2008
  5. ^ "Clydeview Academy Update". Gourock High School. Archived from the original on 16 January 2011. Retrieved 22 January 2011.
  6. ^ "School Report - School Reporters at the new Waterloo Road set". BBC. 14 March 2012. Retrieved 15 March 2012.
  7. ^ Killkelly, Daniel (21 August 2014). "Waterloo Road to film final scenes today after ten series". Digital Spy. Hearst Magazines UK. Retrieved 11 February 2015.
  8. ^
  9. ^ "Greenock Academy & associated Primary Schools" Archived 8 November 2016 at the Wayback Machine,
  10. ^ "The race to be Scots Tory leader", BBC News, 1 November 2005
  11. ^ Richard Wilson's Beacon Theatre hopes dated 27 Mar 2015 in Greenock Telegraph

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