MARR College - whose green copper dome is a distinctive feature of the skyline of the little Ayrshire town of Troon - has been celebrating the 60th anniversary of its opening.

The occasion has prompted a group of the secondary school's original pupils to propose publishing, under the auspices of the Marr Trust, a comprehensive account of the college and the trust from their beginnings to the present day.

Marr College's origins were unusual. It was built through the money and vision of the Troon-born London coal merchant Charles Kerr Marr. He believed that the millionaire's daughter and the dustman's son should be educated together - and that, essentially, is what his school achieved in an era before comprehensive education became a political shibboleth.

From the start, the college - run by a board of governors but with additional public funding - offered free, comprehensive, co-education to Troon's young people in the best tradition of the Scottish democratic intellect. It drew its pupils from all levels of society and offered them high-quality teaching in a fine environment.

The imposing stone building with its octagonal library under the dome, its museum and art gallery, its bungalow for teaching domestic science, its 55 acres of sports fields and sports pavilion, its wooded grounds, gardens, and tennis courts, and its finely equipped specialist classrooms, provoked both wonder and envy in the 1930s.

Everything from classics to woodwork was on offer to local children - whether they passed ``the qualifying'' or not. Generations of young people of working-class background (a sociological term they would probably not have recognised) studied with, and often bested, their middle-class contemporaries before moving on to university and the professions. Girls were expected to perform on a par with boys - and did.

The founder rector, Dr Alfred Murison, had a distinguished academic background in classics as well as maths and natural philosophy. His regime contrived to be both disciplined and enlightened.

Former pupils range from actress Susannah York and artist William Crozier to a clutch of distinguished academics, including Professor James Armour, formerly vice principal of Glasgow University, and the legendary rugby-playing Brown brothers.

Marr College lost its anomalous direct-grant status in 1978 and became a Strathclyde Region school. Its present roll of some 1500 pupils is several times the size of its first intakes. In the recently published tables of Scottish school examination results, it vies with Belmont Academy as top performer for fifth-year Highers in the Ayr Division of Strathclyde and is also high in the national tables.

The account of Marr College's first 60 years will, its organisers hope, be very much a living and lively history of the period. To this end, anecdotes, reminiscences, memorabilia, and the like, from former pupils, teachers, and their families, are being sought.

Any such material may be sent to, or personal contact made with: Mr Douglas Cotter, c/o the English Department, Marr College, Dundonald Road, Troon.

Material will be returned, whenever possible, after use.