The Badge

Extract from 1957 Ardrossan Academy School Magazine

"The badge was designed in the year 1935 by Mr Jay Lessells, D.A., F.S.A., formerly principal teacher of Art in the school. The badge is a tribute to Mr Lessells' heraldic knowledge, and it is one of the few to have been accepted without any alterations by the Lion Court at Edinburgh.

The fork in the shape of a 'Y', which is the main feature, does not stand for youth but is a shake fork or pitchfork which is the coat of arms of the Cuninghames, one of the great North Ayrshire families.

*The fork was introduced into their coat of arms following the entry into Linlithgow castle of King Robert the Bruce and his followers, concealed in hay carts. The English, who were occupying it at the time, were driven out and it is said that the Cuninghames fell upon them with their forks, tossing the English into the air like hay and shouting their cry 'Over, fork, over !' (Cuninghame motto).

The gem ring is taken from the Eglinton coat of arms, The Earl of Eglinton having been one of the founders of Ardrossan Academy. The castle is the Royal Castle of Ayr and not Ardrossan Castle as is commonly believed. This castle is based on the old Seal of the Burgh of Ayr, said to date from the foundation of the Burgh in 1202.

The book indicates our learning, and it is interesting to note that, according to notes made at the time of designing, the book might well have been replaced by a torch or a lamp, which were suggested as alternatives. The undulations at the foot of the badge represent the waves of the sea. The stars across the top have an obvious connection with the motto - 'Ad Astra'.

The heraldic description of the badge is as follows :- 'Argent, a shake fork between in dexter flank, a representation of the Royal Castle of Ayr in sinister flank, a book expanded ; and in chief, a ring, enriched with a sapphire all proper ; in base undy, are the waves of the sea of the first and azure ; and on a chief of the last four mullets of the field. In an escrol under is this motto, 'Ad Astra !' "

* There is an alternative explanation of the origin of the fork which is more widely accepted:

"A representation of an ancient shakefork (pitchfork) made from a tree limb with forked branches. Symbol for the clan motto: "Over Fork Over" which is a story of two Malcolms: Malcolm Canmore, Prince of Scotland and Malcolm, son of Friskin, a lowland farmer. As Prince Malcolm fled MacBeth's forces, he took refuge in a haystack while Malcolm, son of Friskin, covered him "over, fork over" with hay; using the shakefork. When Canmore later came to the throne as Malcolm III, he remembered how his life was spared and rewarded the Thanedome of Cunningham to Malcolm, son of Friskin".

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