History of Dollar Academy

History of Dollar Academy So Far

The Success of a Legacy
Captain John McNabb died in 1802. A wealthy London merchant, he had made his fortune on the seas. The interest on that fortune alone was worth around £60,000 (several millions today), and it was left by his will to provide "a charity or school for the poor of the parish of Dollar wheir I was born". There were disputes, but in 1815 the Rev.Andrew Mylne successfully promoted his idea of an academy to educate the poor of the parish and take in pupils from wealthier families as boarders. The poor would receive this as a right, along with clothing and medical care, but the wealthy would pay on a sliding scale (the maximum being 5/- per subject per term).

Top Architect Engaged
In the spirit of McNabb’s words, Dollar Academy was founded in 1818. The eminent architect, William Playfair, then designed a fitting structure with a splendid Doric façade. Besides the Playfair building, six houses were built to accommodate the teachers and boarders. In 1832, the Infant School was built. By 1868, a hall had been added to the rear of the Playfair, a gymnasium by 1893. In 1887, the introduction of compulsory primary education led to the refusal of the school’s right to provide free education to children under ten years of age, and the Infant School was handed over to a new school board.

The War Years

World War I claimed the lives of 166 former pupils, and 70 fell in World War II. By 1922 the school had run into financial difficulties and was temporarily administered by the council. Former pupils then raised enough to re-endow the school’s independence, and a new board of trustees was appointed. This board agreed to pay half of the fees for senior parish children, and scholarships ensured payment of the rest. A new fee-paying preparatory school was opened in 1936.

Rebuilding after the Great Fire
Disaster struck in 1961 when a fire burned out the interior structure of the Playfair block, destroying the splendid library (and some 12,000 books). Local people rallied to help. Education continued in local halls, and even in private houses. In 1966, concrete and steel were used to rebuild inside the surviving outer structure. Since then, other buildings such as the games hall, the swimming pool and dining complex, the new music department and auditorium (the Gibson Building), the computing and mathematics centre (the Younger Building), and the home economics centre (the Iona Building) have been added. The boarding houses have been modernized, and study bedrooms introduced. Three new science labs were added in 1998, and there have been additions to the prep school building.

200 Years from the Death of John McNabb

In 1979, the county refused to continue the agreement on fees, and the school was compelled to go completely independent. Dollar has survived despite the challenges, and today it provides pupils, some still boarding, with not only a sound academic education but also a great range of extra-curricular activities, making the most of all that has been developed. In the early 1930s, McNabb’s coffin was discovered in a crypt in a disused block in London. Former pupils cremated these remains, and the ashes of Capt. John McNabb now rest above the bronze doors which serve as the entrance to the Academy two hundred years on. This was the man who had made his mar: the great sea-farer left far more than a legacy, and many now sail in his ship.

Iuventutis Fortunas Veho