A Victorian village school once known as the “Eton of the north” will be brought back to life as an educational establishment “for grown-ups”.
The new owners of Old Fordyce Primary School have pledged to bring some of the “world’s greatest educators in the social sciences” to the spot between Portsoy and Cullen as part of the revamp.
And, under their proposals, the north wing will be converted into nine en-suite bedrooms for people to stay in while they attend lessons there.
The old building, next to the new and in-use Fordyce Primary, went on the market in 2014 at an asking price of £80,000 and was bought by Maryculter farming couple Kate and Derek Cowie.
Papers now lodged with Aberdeenshire Council outline their bold plans for the newly christened Fordyce Academy.
They say: “Our intention is to refurbish the building as a place of learning – as a school, this time, for ‘grown-ups’ who want to do ‘grown-up work’.
“This new Academy will offer a broad curriculum of learning programmes in the fields of personal development, group development, organisation development and leadership development, and, for travellers with a tale, workshops in writing and storytelling skills.
“Other arts-based programmes may also be offered.
“The curriculum will be taught by some of the world’s greatest educators in the social sciences and be priced to make it accessible to as many people as possible.
“The refurbishment plans include one very large ‘classroom’ which I am envisaging as a both a teaching space and a performance space so that we can host arts-based community events.”
Global interest expected
The couple say the adult-only school will boost the local economy by calling on local firms for transport, catering, accommodation and other facilities.
It is expected that the residential courses will attract some international visitors and shuttle buses could be organised to bring them to Fordyce from Aberdeen or Edinburgh airports.
The school internal layout is of four large classrooms to the front of the building supported by two smaller rooms and an interconnecting corridor
Fascinating past of education in Fordyce
It came with a fund to cover, in perpetuity, an annual income sufficient to
provide 20 boys with higher education for five years at the school and
four at the University.
It served children living in the local towns and villages whose parents would not ordinarily have been able to afford such an education for them.
In time, it became one of the most important feeder schools in the country and was described as “the Eton of the north”.
Amongst its most celebrated alumni, it boasted two physicians to Queen Victoria, and after it admitted girls. the first woman to graduate with first class honours from Aberdeen University.
In the course of its existence, it was located in various premises in Fordyce, settling into its Victorian building in 1882.
It closed in 1964 after becoming integrated with the public sector in the 1940s. The junior department became the village primary school at that time.