A LARGS historian has mourned the loss of an iconic school building 30 years after it was destroyed by a monstrous blaze.

Sarah Goldie spoke this week of her sadness at seeing Kelburn Primary burnt to the ground in April 1990 despite more than 20 firefighters battled for hours to save the famous sandstone structure.

She said: "It was very sad to lose the building as it had lots of character.

"It was built in the early 1890s in Largs at a time of major construction work in the town including St Columba's Parish Church and Clark Memorial Church.

"My mother's cousin once told me that she recalled that there was a big march of schoolchildren in pairs from the original primary in School Street up Nelson Street and onwards to the new school building when it opened in 1892. She was disappointed to miss the march as she had the measles.

"It was a beautiful red sandstone building which had been extended in 1936. Harry Melville was the headmaster from the 1930s until the 1950s and he retired the year that I graduated. It also saw the introduction of the ordinary grade exams so it had a lot of history behind it.

"My mum, aunts and uncles and myself were all taught there - and my mother could recall starting her schooling there in the 1890s.

"I remember the blaze when it happened - it was started accidentally by the workman - it was such a big loss to the town

The fire was believed to have been started by contractors who were working on the roof with gas-powered blowtorches at 5pm on April 2 1990.

Despite the efforts of a 23 strong fire crew, the inferno went on to engulf the school, which had just undergone a £300,000 refurbishment.

Ironically part of the large scale renovations had been to modernise the fire safety conditions.

Head mistress Mrs Elizabeth Bruce, staff and about 330 pupils had only moved back in a few weeks before.

Freshly decorated upper classrooms containing new tables, desks and chairs were obliterated as the school’s roof succumbed to the flames amid the intense heat and caved in.

Recently installed double glazed windows shattered, while firemen had climbed scaffolding which encased the building to blast the fire with water, and were forced to retreat as slates showered down.

Neighbours spoke of hearing a loud banging noise before clouds of smoke and flames engulfed the building built 1892.

Windows of nearby houses shuddered as what was thought to have been an explosion went off.

Ironically, the children, who were enjoying their Easter holidays, had only just moved back into the building from the neighbouring Largs Academy where they were accommodated during the refurb.

Several hours after the fire began it was brought under control, but the building continued to smoulder and two fire units stayed through the night to make sure that the blaze did not re-ignite.

A new open plan school premises was built shortly afterwards on the same site which was only knocked down two years ago, as the primary school moved up to Largs Campus.

The sandstone Kelburn Primary building was also the former Largs Higher Grade School which used to serve the whole town much like the Largs Campus does nowadays.

Colour photo: Eddie Dowds.