New Madras College handed over to council as building completed

Fife’s new Madras College has been handed over to the council – to the delight of a councillor instrumental in its creation.

Wednesday, 4th August 2021, 4:34 pm
The new facility.

St Andrews Labour rep Brian Thomson says the completion of the new St Andrews school by contractors BAM is a “significant event” following years of campaigning by local parents.

Thomson, who along with former councillor Bryan Poole initiated the most recent round of talks that led to the new school being built at Langlands, said: “This is the culmination of many years of campaigning – by many people – for a new-build single-site school that the young people of the local area, the staff and the wider community deserve.

“There have been a number of setbacks along the way, but the end result is a truly outstanding new school campus.”

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A new Madras College has been on the cards for over a decade but was stymied by multiple breakdowns in talks with the University of St Andrews to acquire land and a legal challenge by local environmental campaign group STEPAL.

The £50m building will unite all Madras pupils under one roof for the first time in over 50 years, with classes being taught out of buildings on Kilrymont Road and South Street a mile and a half apart since the 1960s.

A symbolic – and socially distanced – handover of the keys took place last week involving BAM’s construction director for Scotland Martin Cooper, new Madras rector Ken Currie, north east Fife area convener Donald Lothian and education convener Craig Walker.

Cllr Thomson added: “All who have campaigned for a new school deserve great credit, as do those who ultimately delivered the new school, namely senior officers and councillors at Fife Council, senior officials at the University of St Andrews, the Council’s Project Team, the design team and the contractor BAM.

“Whilst moving away from the historic South Street building in particular may initially take a bit of getting used to, it’s excellent that some features from both of the old buildings have been incorporated or replicated in the new building.”

Members of Parent Voice, a campaign launched in 2012 to bring a new Madras to St Andrews, have also warmly welcomed the completion of the school – while also rueing the time taken to reach this point.

Chris Wallard, of Parent Voice, praised Cllr Thomson for his work on the project.

He said: “We’d like to thank the hundreds of you who added your support to our campaign, as we joined our voices together to create change for the children of our community. It was a difficult – sometimes exhausting – journey, but a vital one.

“There were many individuals who helped us along the way. Politicians of all parties – mostly – backed the cause. The support of Willie Rennie, Bryan Poole and Stephen Gethins was invaluable to our campaign.

“However we do want to thank one person in particular – Councillor Brian Thomson. Brian was the one person we could always rely on to take time to meet us, to update us on council news and to raise – time and time again – Madras to the top of the agenda – even when others sought to silence his voice.”

Pupils will enter the new Madras College from August 18 after the summer break.