Neville H. Newhouse




Difficult Times - 1900-1929

The resignation of Joseph and Mary Radley in 1898, the end of the century, and the death of Queen Victoria were events heralding the tremendous changes of the next thirty years. In 1900, school life at Lisburn was still recognisably that of the small, rural, religiously-directed Quaker community' which John Gough had started on Prospect Hill 126 years earlier. The new century was not far advanced before it became a school John Gough would not have recognised - a much bigger, state-aided, half-secular institution where the mainly non-Quaker day-scholars easily outnumbered the boarders. And since at the same time the First World War and Partition of Ireland were racking Ulster and Britain, these many educational changes were painful. As we have seen, the Lisburn school had had difficulties in the past. Now it had greater ones than ever. Not that all schools were not sorely tried ; but for one which by foundation had hitherto aimed at a religious and `guarded' education, the strain was almost too great. It is surprising that the school came through.

Happily, the pupils knew little or nothing of the problems and tensions with which teachers and governors struggled. They rose at 6.30 a.m. and for half-an-hour before breakfast (7.00-7.30 a.m.) did mental arithmetic or Latin, if they were taking it. There were domestic tasks after breakfast and then lessons where, as Norah Douglas remembers, the boys and girls sat in the order of their last class grading which often placed a shy, awkward girl in the middle of a bunch of boys, or vice-versa. Class grading ended each term and took a long time while pupils stood to be praised or blamed and told their positions. The school-room was the undivided classroom on the Radley House (or New Dining Room) side of the entrance hall. There was no door at its far end and no wire over its windows, with the result that staff spent much time punishing those who climbed out on to the tennis court. In one corner beside the window was a blackboard covered with green baize ; it could be adjusted to any angle by means of wooden pins. The two hours after dinner were for games and then there were more classes before tea and Prep. The boys did their Prep. in the schoolroom, but the girls went to their own room (known to later generations of pupils as O.K.). A few day scholars returned to School in the evening to do their Prep. and use the school library.


There were two days in the week when this routine was varied. Each Thursday morning the whole school attended Meeting for Worship in the Meeting House in Railway Street. And Sunday was a day altogether apart : a number of Old Scholars have left vivid impressions of it. Oddly, they do not mention getting up an hour later, though the day did begin in this way. The boys, recalls Frank M. Johnson of the years 1919-20, ". . . had to wear stiff white collars and bowler hats, and before setting off in file; they paraded in the ball-alley for an inspection by James Woolman, whose keen eye was quick to spot a dusty hat or an untidy suit or a badly polished pair of boots or shoes". (Magazine 1944). The girls too dressed for the occasion and filed down to Railway Street just in front of the boys, smarting with them at the derisive cries of "Quack, Quack ! " from local children. Even in Joseph Radley's time, the boys' bowlers had been much disliked and Bulmer Hobson remembered playing football with them on the day their owners left school for good. In the early years of the century the girls, too, wore hard sailor hats. "Only fellow sufferers", lamented Norah Douglas in her Presidential Address to Old Scholars in 1938, ". . . can have any conception of how impossible it was for a small girl to enjoy sitting on high, hard-backed meeting benches with those hard and unsuitable creations perched on the top of her head, held there by an enormous hatpin, projecting like a spear on one side".

A good dinner was followed by letter-writing home, supervised with varying success by prefects. Then there was `club', when the boys and girls congregated in groups for such food as they could collect from parcels and lockers. Then the Sunday walk, which varied in length -"some masters", noted John M. Douglas wryly, "had longer legs than others. The girls never went as far as the boys ; in fact they waited until the boys went out and then the mistress took them in another direction. There were exceptions to that when they met half way and made catty remarks about each other as they passed". It must be remembered, of course, that until the Second World War Lisburn remained relatively unspoiled by cars and housing estates. The Magheralave Road was little more than a quiet lane. So even though pupils found the walks in some ways dreary, compulsory walking never having been popular with children, they often enjoyed relaxing at the turning point which might be Castlerobin, Jacob's Well, or a point on the Lagan or canal. For wet afternoons, the alternative was a Scripture-repeating class and an hour's book reading.

Evening meeting has hardly changed since 1900 except that films have replaced lantern slides and there are now racier Bible translations and a greater number of widely travelled Friends to share their experiences with Boarders. Lesley Parke, later Mrs. Knox, wrote of Sunday evening `Little Meeting' in this way

"It was held in the lecture room and was always interesting and helpful, conducted by the Head. The hymns were from the Fellowship Hymn Book [used after the First World War until the 1960's].... There were lantern lectures in the lantern room and these were popular . . . Harvey Theobald, a Quaker from England, was a great favourite with the junior girls and used to come into the big schoolroom and talk to the girls round the fire for a time if he happened to be visiting the school.

The title on one of his lantern lectures was "Hints from the Hoardings", and on another occasion we had as guests two of the original jubilee Singers from America : they entertained us with negro songs and spirituals". (From the manuscript in Lisburn strong room.)

One feature of Sunday until 1914 shows a great difference from the school of 1930. The time before going to Meeting was still the only time in the week when a few boys and girls were allowed to meet each other unsupervised. They were brothers and sisters, and they were permitted to walk together from the front entrance down the broad path to the Cottage, along the path to the Gate Lodge (pulled down in 1967) and back up the main drive. Otherwise the boys and girls spent their leisure time in separate parts of the grounds. The bovs enjoyed the full length of the track (i.e. the path between the rugby field and new building) for walking or cycling, or played ball-alley against the gym door. The girls, on the other hand, had only the hard tennis court to walk round (after 1965, the site occupied by the new dining Ball) or the path down the brae to the fields-this ended in a stile and ran between the swimming bath and Radley House through pleasant trees which died during the big building additions in the 1960's.


In the Dining Hall, girls and boys sat on different sides, after filing in under supervision from their respective rooms which were separated by the Headmaster's apartments. This strict separation made the mixed parties at the end of term the more enjoyable and was very occasionally relaxed for mixed hockey. No doubt it seems surprising now, but it should be remembered that apart from the Head and his wife there was then no married couple in the main school building, and for the most part pupils accepted the arrangement as natural. Other schools did not have even this minimal co-education. At least on Prospect Hill there was not complete segregation. Girls and boys saw each other at morning collect and in class, and it hardly needs saying that there were co-educational if unapproved meetings on corridors and in quiet corners, not to mention the passing of notes which is part of any boarding school life in any age.

From the school's foundation in 1774 almost up to the outbreak of the First World War, a span of 140 years, the ordered and severe discipline of the school changed very little. Complete silence, notes Norah Douglas, was the rule in the dormitories -". . . We would talk going to bed, but woe betide those who spoke after lights were out, or uttered one word dressing in the mornings, even if they were only enquiring about a lost brush or comb. In theory, we were supposed to be silent from 8.00 o'clock in the evening till sitting at breakfast at 7.30. Our practice varied somewhat, though not as much as you might expect". Lesley Parke remembers that "a punishment meted out for talking after lights out, consisted in being made to get up, out of bed, dress and write lines consisting of "My promises are like egg shells, made only to be broken". The boys were occasionally caned and, astonishingly, a flogging before the whole school took place as late as 1928. But most Friends did not hold with this form of punishment and usually boys were given lines to keep them in the building while the rest played outside. Inevitably, as Arnold Marsh noted, there was always a certain coarsening involved in boarding life : bullying, bad language, furtiveness - the same coarsening that everybody encounters sooner or later. But it seems to have been mild. Some staff had reputations for lapses into violence, the usually popular Tommy Maine being the most notorious of them ; some, even though respected as good people, could not keep order ; most were respected and liked. There was never at Prospect Hill the ferocity of punishment for which William Davidson had been famous at Brookfield (compulsory cold baths in mid-winter and forcible lifting by the ears, so legend has it). In any case, during the early years of the century, Charles Benington took to Brookfield the same kindly, strict but just rule that operated at Lisburn. Perhaps it is the third quality which matters most. Pupils will accept punishment if they know they have done wrong and if they recognise the consistency and impartiality of the punisher.

For both girls and boys dress continued to be Quaker-plain. No frills, no beads, no rings, no curls in the hair unless Nature refused to be denied, and a sober grey the over-all colour. In class, the girls wore long frocks with white pinafores over them ; for the afternoon leisure or domestic task, the pinafores were replaced by dark aprons. Between the pigtails at one end and the black stockings at the other there was a featureless expanse of grey. Sunday brought little variety, save for the Quaker bonnet kept in its special hat box in the Meeting House itself, and this, like the top hats and frock coats which the men wore for Meetings, persisted only until the 1914-18 War. The boys were waistcoated and wore knickerbockers fastened just below the knee over black stockings, and the wide, stiff and white Eton collar. For both girls and boys, shoes were heavy and useful.


Food, too, was plain, but in those days it was very much plainer than we are accustomed to. Writing in 1947, William M. Glynn listed as follows the foods unknown or rare in 1907 : bananas, grapefruit, tomatoes, corn flakes, macaroni, Ovealtine and margarine. Of course, Old Scholars who look back to, say, 1910, recall lumpy porridge, stale bread, and cold vegetables just as do their successors. Arnold Marsh catches well this schoolboy vein

One day we got a slice of bread, stale and nearly dry and up to three inches thick. Somebody put it into his pocket -Johnny Douglas I think it was - and got hold of the key of the museum case in the boys' schoolroom and fixed the piece between the jaws of a shark, with date and circumstances, and locked it up and left it. It was there for at least a year before 'Da' (Braithwaite) found it.

But whatever the truth of such legends, there were the compensations of food parcels from home and of illicit supplies brought in by day scholars. Then a tuck shop was opened. Once again Arnold Marsh remembers

. . . it was at the bottom of the boys' stairs, and the bargains in it were astonishing. Its only rival in cheapness was a wee shop in the wee thatched country village of Derriaghy, where fizzy drinks could be had for a halfpenny -which was a halfpenny cheaper than anywhere else, and a halfpenny would also pay for a bigger bag of sweets there than anywhere else.

Or there was the rush into town on the last day of term (at other times only day-pupils were allowed to go alone outside the school gates) when all remaining pocket money was spent on feasting "behind the curtains at Miss Armstrong's on cream buns and lemonade".

But the normal school diet cannot have been impossible. For one thing pupils could have their own jam and eggs, the latter placed in two wire baskets (one for girls and one for boys) in the old back kitchen (demolished before the Second World War). For another, there was always Sunday dinner-cold boiled beef, gravy turning to grease on a cold plate and mashed potatoes, `put through a sieve dusty from disuse during the previous week'. In the midst of the Dining Room was the stately dog, Sligo, who marched round for the scraps offered at nearly every table. At least there was always enough and to spare at Sunday dinner. In fact, for a number of years Sunday dinner has maintained a reputation for excellence. One pupil, Michael F. Pritchard, told the Head as late as 1962 that he made boarding life tolerable for himself by looking forward to it with eagerness from each Wednesday and back on it with remembered enjoyment from each Monday. The buns enjoyed by pupils on Lisburn Monthly Meeting Thursdays came to an end in 1914, though for some years Thursdays continued to be referred to as `Bun Day'. The even more desirable special Tuesday Committee Dinner of Shepherd's Pie ceased about the same time, partly as a war-time economy and partly because the pressures of twentieth century business made Governors give up their day-long meetings.


The appearance of the school remained much as Joseph Radley had left it. In 1901 a bathroom wing was built on top of the laundry, and bedrooms for domestic staff built over the bathrooms, all still there until 1973 ; and, again in 1901, the school waste was emptied into the town drainage system instead of into the cesspool. There were odd modifications to existing rooms, as when in 1902 a small teachers' sitting room became `a physical laboratory and classroom' (the small room with doors into both the old gym and L.M., the Geography room) ; and again in 1905 when the Chemistry Lab. was enlarged and provided with a balance room and store room. Then in 1907 more boys' toilets were built (opposite the Boot Room, as it had long been known). But those who approached the school by the main entrance saw little of these things. They were no doubt more impressed when in 1923 the dusty and uneven drive was tarmacadamed, along with the yard between the schoolroom and surgery, and the girls' play area (tennis court) beyond it.

All these improvements, though in some ways small enough, resulted from the unremitting efforts of the various Governors to ensure that the school's amenities did not fall below the continually higher standards of the time. William H. Turtle was particularly active, and it was largely as a result of his insistence and fund-raising that in 1929 school gas light was replaced by electric light. By this date, the Staff had moved into what most Old Scholars have always known as the Staff Room (previously a classroom for Prep. 2), and the 6th Form had moved into what had been the Staff Room (behind the Girls' Schoolroom). What we know as "the Nest" was a dormitory. There was no wood-work room -for that, the boys went to the Technical College in town. The boarding apartments, it will be noted, received little attention. There were two reasons for this the money was not there, and it was on the day-side that the expansion was taking place. For the next twenty-five years this big day-expansion was increasingly to cause the boarding side serious problems, a fact witnessed by one or two American and Canadian Old Scholars who paid visits in the 1960's and exclaimed, when they saw the girls' or boys' dormitories : "Why, it's just as it was in my day over fifty years ago".


Games, meanwhile, were moving steadily from the easy-going, pastime days of the nineteenth into the more competitive days of the twentieth century. Even though after two World Wars the sporting scene of 1900-1910 seems very leisurely to us, it was not like that to those who played games in those days. The much-liked and respected James Woolman expresses the point well

It is interesting to trace the evolution of Athletic Sports at the School. The first meeting in 1902 was very unpretentious. It was held on the Brae, and there were no visitors, and no prizes. During the next two years a great advance was made. We had a full programme of events, including the obstacle race, crowds of visitors many of whom had not been invited, tea, which was much appreciated by the gate-crashers, and a brass band. Prizes were given to the first three in each event . . .

The Sports became the chief social function of the year, and often the ground was so crowded that the centre of the field had to be roped off. The Sports so continued to be held until 1917, and then an unfortunate break occurred, and the meetings were not resumed until 1919. The programme was completely reorganised : the boys and girls were divided into two houses. Gough and Radley, and the points earned by each member or each house were totalled and the winning house won the shield for the year . . .

In 1902, cricket, as an organised game, was practically nonexistent, but we rapidly built up very good teams, and in 1904 we had the best team I remember. We played sixteen matches, drew the first and won the other fifteen outright. We depended greatly on good fielding and in Robert Armour and Cyril Pearson we had a pair of high-class school bowlers. . . . We had a longer season than you do now [1942] as the School did not close till the last week in July.

Hockey, too, prospered under the enthusiastic coaching of J. Arnold Benington. In those days it was played on the present rugby pitch which looks onto the Magheralave Road. The change from Association to Rugby Football was made twice, first about 1905 and then early in the 1920's. One night soon after the original innovation the posts of the new and (by some) hated game were sawn off. But one of the reasons for the change was quite simply that other nearby secondary schools played rugby and it seemed sensible to follow suit if only for the sake of the fixtures. In any case, rugby did not replace hockey as the school's favourite game, particularly as hockey involved travelling to Brookfield where legendary games were played in a long saga of rivalry. As travel became easier and more common, even distant Newtown became hockey opponents, usually at the half-way mark in Dublin. And where there were no school fixtures or practices, there were still the fierce games in the ball-alley and many another boarding invention imprinted vividly on Old Scholars' memories, not to mention a lively interest in English league football, the result of James Woolman's enthusiasm for sport `across the water'.

Then there was swimming which, ever since Forster Green's bath was opened in 1898, has remained an important aspect of most boarders' lives. During the early years of the century, the school secretary, Fred Bell, gave lessons to all new boys, usually with success. This was perhaps partly because he gave each scholar a shilling for his first swim across the width of the pool. He has long been remembered for this and other kindnesses which were born of his interest in pupils. One day, Arnold March recalls,

there was nearly a tragedy. The master on duty called all the boys out, and only then did they see one lying on the bottom of the bath. He was got out at once and by great good fortune the master knew something about artificial respiration and brought him round.

The boys, though not the girls, could take a pre-breakfast swim if they wished, and many did. These `dips' were better supported after 1919 when the pool was heated by the blowing of steam into the water. This luxury was not without its hazards. Any boy who jumped in too near the steam would go pink instead of the usual deathly white of the pre-heating days. Usually a, few boys were used as ,mixers' so that by the time the crowds arrived the warm water was evenly distributed. Fred Bell's self-appointed task would have been much easier in these days, for it was precisely the non-swimmers who benefited most from the warmth ; in the very cold water they had become more and more frozen while those who could swim kept some semblance of life in their limbs by thrashing about.


Lessons rarely had examinations in mind, and the academic pressures of the 30's and beyond were slow to take hold of Lisburn. Even so, the new age was dawning. In Joseph Radley's day none of the teachers had formal qualifications ; by 1909, four of the seven staff had degrees. At this time eleven out of nineteen candidates passed the `Intermediate Examinations', though the Head and Committee decided to abandon this system in favour of the Cambridge local examinations. The Intermediary Standard, according to the Head, was too narrow and insufficiently literary, and faced the school with the choice of not preparing candidates properly or of neglecting the majority who did not enter - a thoroughly sound argument in favour of the whole community. But secondary examinations were here to stay and by 1912 pupils had returned to the Intermediate system. It was the beginning of the school's slow but sure swing towards the academic grammar school tradition which it firmly followed in the second half of the century. Until then, the teaching did not need to have the drive and precision that were to characterise the grammar schools in their hey-day. The clearest and most orderly teacher, recalls William Glynn, was James Woolman, and with Conrad Gill (very briefly on the staff and then a lecturer at Queen's, and vigorous member of the School Committee) came a new university talk of careers. School was a place where m some haphazard, mysterious way, the whole character developed and grew, until one left for the great world. Teachers taught the pupils to do as they were told, to learn to write neatly and correctly, to memorise various often unrelated bits of knowledge, and to believe in the Christian revelation of the Holy Scriptures - all of which, added to organised and unorganised leisure time, made up the life of "the family", as it was still known.

The expression was by no means unrealistic, as the steady growth of the Old Scholars' Association showed. Building on the pioneer work of Alfred Halliday, Charles Bulla and others, several teachers urged leavers to keep in mind their one-time home. James Woolman, for example, held office in the Association for over twenty years. With travel growing easier every year, Old Scholars' Day was very well supported, and in the summer of 1914, just before `the lights of Europe went out', the first week-end gathering was held. James Woolman wrote of it

It was the largest we ever had, and the Headmaster and his wife, Mr. and Mrs. Ridges, spared no effort to make it a success. Over sixty old boys and girls spent three days at the school, and, in addition, on the Monday many visitors came for the day from Belfast and the West. I remember that day very well ; the tennis courts were crowded and gay, and as a background to the laughter and talk was the distant booming of the July drums. Many who were of this merry crowd were paying their last visit to Lisburn. Three weeks later the war broke out and amongst the names on the board in the diningroom who gave their lives are several who were there with us that day.

The fellowship born of this and similar Old Scholars' Days lasted many years and succeeding generations of leavers carried it on. It was typified as well as any where in `The Balloonies', a concert party which provided dramatic entertainment on many occasions between the two World Wars. The following was the cast for "The Village Concert", performed early in the 1930'

Sir Claude Dillwater ......................................................................... Leonard G. Green
Lady Dolly Dillwater ........................................................................ Kitty Allen
Mr. Sammy Sweetbread (retired butcher) ........................................ James Woolman
Miss Kitty Keating (district nurse) .................................................... Joy Simpson
Miss Noselie Parker (post mistress) ................................................. Vera Duncan
Mr. Billy Bellows (blacksmith) ......................................................... A. Crennel Bulla
Betty Blue and Tommy Tucker (children) ..........................................Dawson Manning and Connie Bass
Misses Black (physical culture experts) .............................................Dennis Barritt, P. Stanley Bass

To these names could normally be added that of Evelyn Green ; they all gave a great deal to the Old Scholars' Association.

The 1914-18 War was a time of great difficulty. The staff were mainly ladies, because men left for the Front and for essential war work. The number of boy boarders sank to twenty, though the girls' side was over-full. Food was scarce and plain. In October 1918 the widespread epidemic of influenza reached Lisburn. By the last day of October, a Saturday, all save seventeen were ill and all staff save two (Miss Budd and James Woolman) were in bed ill. On the same day there was news that a day scholar had died. During the next night, after only a few hours' illness, a girl boarder died. It was then decided to close the school, and the remaining sixteen boys and girls were sent home by train and hired cars. Those who lived in Dublin or beyond did not go until Monday. The school now became a hospital with its larger dormitories the wards. But they were wards without nurses. Miss McCullough, the housekeeper, and Frances Ridges, the Headmaster's daughter, both worked with heroic devotion and both lost their lives caring for the stricken pupils. Maria Marsh, too, gave invaluable voluntary help, later gratefully recognised by the Committee who gave her a `neck and shoulder' fur. As the patients recovered sufficiently, they were sent home, and when all had gone the Head and his wife went away for a rest. The deaths had been

Helen Clarke day scholar 31.10.18
Anne Magowan "           " 3.11.18
Sadie Walsh "           " 8.11.18
Mrs. McCullough Matron  
and Frances Ridges who was studying modern languages at Queen's University, Belfast.

The school did not open again until January 1919. It was a saddened and weakened community.

The Fire in the Workshop

One other event of many years earlier could have had tragic consequences but mercifully did not. It was the fire in the workshop four or five years after the turn of the century. It happened on a Sunday just after evening service. Someone, a pupil almost certainly, piled up some wood between a bench and the wall and set it alight. The school was 100 strong then, and once the fire had been seen and reported, many of the 100 seemed to be rushing hither and thither, while Fred Bell, the secretary, banged away at the gong in the entrance hall, and the Head, 'Da' Braithwaite and James Woolman were fetched to organise the fire fighting. Indeed, the Head was very effective. He summoned up all the buckets in the school, lined up the boys and moved the buckets along the lines. Then Fred Bell came in with a recently purchased fire extinguisher, directed it onto the heart of the blaze and, lo! there were only charred embers. It was not the end of the excitement, however. The Head was convinced (not without reason, many people thought) that a pupil had started it all. He held his own hostile and unpleasant interrogations. When these proved fruitless, he called in the inspectors and detectives who one night went on with their cross-examinations up to midnight and beyond, trying to break down resistance. It was no use ; they discovered nothing. From somewhere came a rumour that there would be no Christmas holiday. Neither that threat, if serious threat it was, nor the Head's stirring oration on the Sunday evening following the fire had any effect. At last, the after-effects, like the fire itself, burned themselves sullenly out, becoming part of the legend of school life in the early nineteenth century.

William D. Braithwaite

Between 1900 and 1929 there were three headmasters. All were English, all were faced with great difficulties, and all were in differing degrees overcome by them. The very success of Joseph Radley's long successful Headship was the first problem, the more so because the school had during his last years lost momentum. And as though the rapidly changing patterns of the new century were not enough, there was the added complexity of the relationship of the Ulster School to the English Quaker schools which, since the time of John Gough, had supplied so many of its Superintendents and Headmasters. Increasingly, English and Ulster Quakerism were taking on regional differences. This, in fact, was the first problem that faced the Governors as they set about the task of finding Joseph Radley's successor. The scholars themselves spoke - as Ulster people spoke anyone afflicted with an English accent, Arnold Marsh recalls, was greatly ridiculed. Yet the Masters

spoke English and used to condemn us for what they had the absurdity to call "bad English", as if they couldn't let us have our own language while they had theirs. We never criticised them, odd and all as they sounded, and their complaining made very little difference. We went on speaking in our own way.

The differences and even tensions which lie behind these words have remained with the school, and perhaps with Ulster, well into the second half of the twentieth century. In part it is a matter of class : it is somehow better to speak with an English accent and preferably a received English accent at that. In part, it is clearly a matter of past history and one's attitude towards it : of the English occupation of Ireland and the rugged independence of the North which made it different even before the Scottish settlement in the Lagan valley. But whatever explanations may be offered of the relationship of England and Ulster, it is a simple fact that no Headmaster, English or Irish, could at this time have found his task at Lisburn easy ; and he could not know, of course, that in twenty years' time the establishment of Ulster as a Province of the United Kingdom with its own parliament would make yet more difficult the whole business of English-Irish relations, even in schools.

Much the most likely local candidate for the Head's position was Charles Benington, Joseph Radley's second master. Born in England, he was nevertheless by now so thoroughly settled in Lisburn that it was easy to think of him as native and to the manner born. In his 86th year, a month before his death, Bulmer Hobson recalled with typical trenchancy the virtues of Charles Benington. `Apart from J.R., the only teacher in the place', he asserted and then remembered how the second master had once punished him unfairly, had discovered his mistake, and had apologised to him, `insignificant bit of a lad though he was'. What better qualification for Headship could there be than proven teaching ability and a sense of fair play that extended even to a slip of a boy ? "But then", he said, "the Committee was obsessed with appointing an Englishman". Others, too, had a high opinion of Charles Benington, among them Professor Isaac Swain of Cork who in 1941, nearly fifty years after the Committee had dismissed him as staff spokesman about the school meals, wrote this final tribute to a gifted teacher, affectionately remembered by the many pupils who came under his care, first at Ulster Provincial School and then at Brookfield where he went as Headmaster. soon after Joseph Radley retired

I see him now standing in front of the 1st class in the boys' schoolroom. It is a lesson in English literature. He reads the rule from Smith's Grammar-the use of ye for you in classical English-and we thunder for the response.

`More shame for ye, holy men I thought ye' : Malcolm Davies, on my left, is full of merriment as he declaims at the top of his voice.

Another class, this time Geography-The Map of England, the bays, capes, rivers, mountains, counties, and towns are gone over in order. Then we have fifteen minutes to memorise them. The atlases are shut and we draw in the outline and put down all we know for fifteen minutes. Many of us get from 100-200 names. Not the modern way, you will say, but without a knowledge such as this the modern method lacks stability.

It was in Chemistry, however, that we had our greatest thrills. The lesson is Oxygen Gas prepared by heating Potassium Chlorate. Phosphorus is burnt in a jar of this gas with great pyrotechnic effect and iron filings oxidise with a coruscating shower of sparks ; whilst experimenting he was explaining each step. John Ward, of the Medical Hall, Lisburn, came up frequently when these classes were on - I think for entertainment-and he was warm in praise of the success of the experiments. At the College of Science afterwards I witnessed similar brilliant experiments by Prof. Hartley, but then he had an assistant who prepared everything.

On walks we got all sorts of Natural History specimensNewts at Jacob's Well and Shells in the Lagan Canal, or we vied with one another in securing the first specimens of Spring Flowers. I make it a point still to look for the Lesser Celandine which begins to bloom early in February, though I have found it on Xmas Day here in Cork.

He painted too, chiefly in water colours. I well remember on a School Excursion to Larne his rapid sketch of the Coast Road. "Charles does very effective work", said Joseph Radley on seeing this. He, too, was skilful in handling the brush.
If the high water mark of good teaching is to arouse interest in the minds of the pupils - and I believe it is - then Charles Benington was a good teacher.

He was an excellent disciplinarian. I never knew a teacher who could manage to keep fifty boys standing in a row for five minutes or more without a movement of any kind, as punishment, like he could.

But he was fair, and we all respected him. In the first (highest) class, where he taught most, we got to know him more intimately and were more appreciative of his worth.

His addresses in meeting were simple and helpful, the chief points being drawn from his own experience, and we realized that here he was revealing something of the inner vision from which his work derived its inspiration.

The words recall far-off days when a man taught subjects as varied as English, Geography and Science, and then turned artist in his spare time, as though to show that the Renaissance ideal of the all-round scholar and gentleman was still possible.

Interestingly, there is in Lisburn Strong Room considerable documentation of the search for Joseph Radley's successor (as there is of other episodes in the school's history since 1900), but it is enough to say here that the Committee's choice eventually fell on William D. Braithwaite. He had taught at Newtown as an apprentice and later at Ackworth, and he became the first Lisburn Head to boast a degree, three in fact, B.A. (London), B.Sc. (London), and B.Sc. (Victoria i.e. Manchester). He was small, black morning-coated, and brimful of energy ; and he was determined to let the public know that there was a good school on Prospect Hill in Lisburn. Hitherto it had hardly been heard of, save among Friends - one wonders what he had known of it before coming to it. From the first, he was known as 'Da', or `Wee Da'.

If the school had had a wise governing body, W. D. Braithwaite might have prospered. As it was, his task was made difficult by the inability of some of his governors to restrain rather than oppose him when he let his enthusiasm run away with him. For the new Head looked on Ulster as a backward place in need of bringing up-to-date as soon as possible. He wore a gown as he bustled around the school, keen to stimulate pupils intellectually and anxious to let it be widely known that this was a place where things were on the move. There must be in future an annual Speech Day at which an outsider, not a Friend, would preside, and at which the guest should be well-known among English Quakers. There were to be books for prizes and they were to be stamped with the new school badge in gold lettering, "Quae Sursum Sunt Quaerite" (Seek those things which are above), Colossians ch. 3, v. 1 having been officially adopted as the school motto in 1904. The names of successful pupils were to be published in newspapers and widely advertised. The upright style of writing was replaced by the sloping one. Prefects were appointed in 1903.

Unfortunately, however, William D. Braithwaite's manner did not help his cause. To many Ulster eyes he was fussy and pompous, and when he confidently announced, as he frequently did, that it was his mission to banish the old-fashioned in favour of the new, he was resented. There are not many parts of the world where people welcome being told that they are out-of-date, and Ulster is not one of them. Nor did it help matters that Da's wife was Georgina Birrell, a relation of the well-known Augustine Birrell, the President of the Board of Education, 1905-8 ; for this well-connected lady played her part, too, in urging her husband not to relax his efforts to set the Province to right. So Ulster Quarterly Meeting found itself harangued and harried by a small Yorkshireman in a hurry. Like any other large body of people, the Quarterly Meeting needed careful, sensitive handling, particularly as it had for years had regular acrimonious divisions within itself. Da's treatment of it has been described by Arnold Marsh in vivid, partly amusing, partly sad words

He (had) reported on one good thing after another that he had done, and then admitted sadly that one fault remained to be corrected-"on this", he said, solemnly raising his right hand aloft, "on this I have not yet laid my reforming hand", and he lowered the ashamed little thing to the rail in front.

Winifred Squire supports the impression : "One of his Speech Day addresses included the words : "I might almost say like Nebuchadnezzar, Is not this great Babylon that I have built ?" So it was not long before some Quakers were expressing strong dissatisfaction with the new Headmaster, and some of them were members of Committee. It was Joseph Radley's situation all over again with the difference that Joseph Radley's splendid combination of toughness and sensitivity was no longer there.

There is no point in dwelling on the clash of these opposed forces and their ultimate collision. For the next ten years the critics of William D. Braithwaite became greater in number and more vociferous in their war against him. By 1910 they were able to seize on a matter of school discipline and make of it sufficient of a cause clbre to have him removed, though Quarterly Meeting was deeply divided over the business and some Friends took pupils from the school in protest. It was a blow which (typically) 'Da' was slow to see coming and it was really the end of him. For a brief time he opened a school at Blaris and, when that failed, repeated the experiment in York. It is interesting to note that William L. Glynn followed him to York, so appreciative was his father of `Da's' qualities. But this venture failed as well. As one sympathetic observer said : "W. D. Braithwaite died of a broken heart".

To his pupils, `Da's' troubles with the Society of Friends were of no importance. Many of them owed a lot to him -William L. Glynn, Arnold Marsh, and John and Norah Dougles, to name the most obvious. They recognised his weaknesses as school-children unerringly do. It was not right of him, they knew, to call them `little spuds' and compare them with `howling mobs of Yorkshire miners', or to single out Quaker children (who very properly benefited from rebates on fees) and address them as `you twenty pounders'. But, wiser than their quarrelsome elders, they knew that this inability to control his tongue, though part of the whole man, was not the essential man. Da was interested in them ; whatever his shortcomings, he wanted them to do well. Like his predecessor, he cared about the things of the mind. So even while they laughed at him, they gave him respect and affection. Norah Douglas recalls

As Da came into the class one of the boys called out "The white rabbit, sir, the white rabbit", and before anyone could do anything, the Head had disappeared down the passage and out through the side door in pursuit of his small son's pet that was more often outside than inside the hutch. He came back eventually, hot and breathless, without having seen or caught the small animal. `April Fool, Sir !' was the greeting the boy gave him on his return. To our great relief his only reply was to burst out laughing and congratulate his pupil on having caught him so well. Looking back through all the years that have gone, that is the quality that I remember in him best - his real interest in his pupils and his active participation in preparation for any great event. Praise from him was prized by us all when it came.

William Glyn, recalling that another of `Da's' offences in Quaker eyes was to favour Home Rule, speaks highly of his `genuine appreciation of Ireland' which stemmed from his experience as a junior master in Newtown in 1877 under the renowned Edward Garnett, whom he greatly admired. He had, says William Glynn, `an infectious capacity for enjoyment which came out in Scripture and other classes'.

C. F. Spenser Smith, an assistant master under 'Da', wrote wisely of him in the 1945 magazine

The spotlight of criticism that falls on a Headmaster caught the least desirable faults of that complex personality, W. D. Braithwaite. Voluble, ebullient, dramatic, without the histrionic art to conceal artifice, there were depths of scholarship and simple piety, loyalty and friendship.

That is well said, although it is perhaps most fitting to leave him, as remembered by one of his pupils, rushing excitedly up and down on Sports Day, calling out encouragements and accidentally hitting his own daughter with the stick he was waving to encourage the competitors. 'Da' may have had his weaknesses but he loved and served the school well. Verv many of his pupils have recorded their debt to his deep interest in them and in the simple, good things of life. Perhaps there is no better epitaph for any schoolmaster.

John G. Ridges

His successor, John Ridges, was a very different kind of man and Head. He carne to Lisburn with impressive paper qualifications and experience - a Cambridge classicist, five vears Headmaster of Taunton School followed by eleven years Headship at Leighton Park. He had strong Quaker connections, not least through his wife who was the very able and purposeful sister of Rendel Harris. He had a strong influence with some Governors and it was said that it was chiefly the Richardsons who had him appointed. It did seem odd, though, that he had left the well-known Taunton for the then less known Leighton Park, and Leighton Park for the then almost unknown Friends School Lisburn.

Any schoolmaster, it hardly needs saying, should like young people and be able to influence them for good. But a Headmaster needs more attributes. He should have an interest in the purposes schools serve and the directions they take. He of all people in the school must know what he wants and how to get it. In a small school, he needs also to be a good organiser, though in the post-Second World War schools of a thousand or more pupils, the organising is often done by the Deputy Head. In brief, John Ridges was a good man who had a great gift for getting young girls and boys to enjoy themselves ; and they sensed from his way of life that he valued forthright honesty and Christian values in general, if such a description is not too vague. To say this is high praise and perhaps, in the things that ultimately matter, it is praise enough. But it is not enough for a Headmaster, and it was not enough for John Ridges, particularly at this juncture in the school's history when, after the First World War, Friends School urgently needed leadership and large vision.

John Ridges was a small man who wore gold-rimmed glasses. His immense energy found expression in his quick walk and love of physical exercise of every kind. He was perhaps one of the last of the eccentrics. He was often seen, for example, running or trotting to and from Lisburn ; and if he wanted to give quite trivial instructions to, say, the most recently appointed maid or handyman he was quite likely to sprint in order to give them. He had a deep slow voice and would waken the boys on bright summer mornings by saying `Does any young gentleman want a dip on this cold frosty morning ?' Games were his great love. He often played them with the pupils, quite unaware of how much he frightened them in the football field by charging straight at them in his enthusiasm. He devoted much time to tending the cricket wicket which greatly improved as a consequence. Not infrequently his class went neglected while he mowed the school lawns. He would lend the school mower to Lisburn Golf Club of which he was a prominent member.

The pupils understood him very well ; they liked him enormously even though they could see that he had no interest in organisation - indeed, he left much of that kind of dull work to his wife and James Woolman, who would today be called his Second Master. One of the teachers, E. M. Standing, was often furious with the way his Headmaster used to plan, or not plan things, but he used to say that for all that, he would come out of John Ridges' study laughing, because he was such a pleasant and witty fellow. The pupils felt much the same way. There was a famous occasion, repeated by many an Old Scholar, when the Head was showing visitors round the school and threw open the door of a room with the words : `This is the class which I should be teaching', only to find no-one in sight -they had all hidden in a large cupboard. There was no malice in the jape, only fun. For he introduced many popular innovations- such as the House system (Gough and Radley) which greatly increased the enjoyment of school games, the wire netting round the tennis courts, and the pruning of the magnificent lime trees on the avenue between the front door of the main building and the cottage. It was also in his day (1914) that the name Friends School officially replaced that of Ulster Provincial School. As he had nothing pompous in his make-up and was a thorough gentleman, he was listened to willingly in Sunday Meeting, and in Evening Meeting when his love of literature was often evident. And his wife, Blanche O. Ridges, often made small changes in the boarding routine, always with a view to making school more like home. Both, as we have seen, gave service beyond praise in the terrible flu epidemic of 1918 and suffered the great grief of seeing their own daughter die. John G. Ridges retired in 1921, and, happily, had many full years of life left. In 1936 he paid his last visit to Lisburn, wandering over the school fields and through the buildings, and calling on many old friends in the town and neighbourhood. They and all who knew him on Prospect Hill were saddened by his death in 1938. He and his wife had been a part of their school and they owed them both much.

C. F. Spencer-Smith

There could hardly have been a more difficult time than September 1921 to become Headmaster of a school in Ulster. The Irish Settlement of 1921-21 had given the North, as part of its distinctive political and social way of life, its own Ministry of Education, which set about establishing the pattern of secondary schools with which we have become familiar. It had the help of such now legendary names as Bingham of Dungannon Royal, Foster of Belfast Royal Academy, Harper of Lurgan College and Henderson of Methodist College, Belfast, all of whom, with others, worked with Bonaparte Wyse the Permanent Secretary and his assistant, Houston, to build up grammar schools (as they really were) worthy of the Province. Who was to be Head at Lisburn to guide the school in such difficult times, and to maintain its own Quaker distinctiveness, while ensuring that it played its part in the new educational developments in the Province ? Once again the Governors turned to England, this time to C. F. SpencerSmith.

He was not without experience in Ulster, however, for after teaching in Bootham School, he had come to Lisburn in 1902 and taught for two years under W. D. Braithwaite. He thus knew well enough of the special problems of the school, quite apart from those likely to stem from Lloyd George's Government of Ireland Act. He had left Lisburn long before W.D. was dismissed, but he had witnessed at first hand the Quaker tensions which had for so long and so unfailingly bedevilled the life of the school. This no doubt was why he agreed to come from the vigorous Headship of Bevan Lean at Sidcot only if given a five-year guarantee. It is clear in retrospect that he was unwise to accept the position, but he can hardly be blamed for having done so. He had already undertaken responsible work at Sidcot where he ran a very successful camp for poor boys from Bristol ; and no doubt he had that amount of ambition which in part prompts Headmasters to seek their eminence. Nor can he have failed to sense the challenge of John Ridges' retiring speech, with its emphasis on the "simplicity, truthfulness, honour and hard work" which marked the Society of Friends and its schools in Ulster. To lead that school was no light matter, and he was in many ways, and not in his own eyes only, well equipped to do so. What, then, went wrong ? For his Headship, like that of W. D. Braithwaite, ended in his dismissal.

He had, inevitably, to struggle from the first with divided and sometimes unsympathetic Governors, and with general Quaker interference. Yet Joseph Radley before him had overcome these just as John Douglas was to do after him, and it seems that Spencer-Smith's main troubles lay elsewhere - with his own and his wife's inability to weld the teaching and boarding staff into a happy community strong enough to be untroubled by the relatively far-off Quaker battles which were always liable to be centred round the school.

It had been the Governors' intention not to allow the Headmaster's wife to take any part in the running of the school, but mysteriously the school solicitor altered the agreement, and Mrs. Spencer-Smith was given considerable boarding responsibility. The daughter of Bishop Lightfoot, she was a lady of great ability and authority, whose strong influence was resented by several teachers, especially the older ones, one of whom, Miss Budd, resigned as a consequence. Spencer-Smith, recalled one of his pupils (M. I. Lesley Parke) years later, "had a great regard for his wife's learning and used to say how much superior her knowledge was to his". It was not perhaps a wise admission, though it may have been true. From this distance in time, it certainly seems that his wife, though in many ways impressive, was often lacking in tact, and possibly, by her very strength of character, spurred him on to unwise courses of action. The Governors must have thought so, for at the end of the first five-year period, they drastically curtailed her responsibilities. But the pupils knew nothing of such things. To them, Ethel Spencer-Smith was what they expected the Head's wife to be : a little formidable perhaps because she carried herself well and had an air of distinction, but basically kind and encouraging.

Spencer-Smith, meanwhile, had tried to introduce more modern methods into the school syllabus and timetable. At the time, the particular fashion in schools was the Dalton plan. It has reappeared on a number of occasions during the last fifty years as project work, as mixed ability teaching and as open-plan teaching, and consisted in brief of replacing formal lessons by free learning in which pupils found their own levels and achievements. Unfortunately, the teaching staff as a whole strongly opposed it, as James Woolman made clear on their behalf. The Head remained adamant, though after eight difficult weeks he abandoned the scheme. A little later, in December 1923, six teachers resigned.

From this unhappy start Spencer-Smith never recovered. Both inside and outside the school, things became increasingly unhappy, as the teaching staff were disunited and the Governors and Quarterly Meeting thoroughly alarmed. As with W. D. Braithwaite, a small incident led to a final disagreement with Governors and dismissal.

The particular issue was of little importance, as the Ministry recognised in its later review of events. For Spencer-Smith appealed against the Governors to the Province's Ministry of Education. On 7th of May 1929 a deputation of Grammar School Headmasters went to the Ministry in support of Spencer-Smith ; a month later the Chairman and Vice-Chairman of the school's governors also went. Both they and the Headmasters were asked to submit their cases in writing. They did so and an enquiry was held at the Ministry over two full days early in November 1929. Each party had legal advice, the Governors that of William H. Brownlee, a Belfast Friend. The findings of the proceedings were never made public, and perhaps it is best to leave the final comment to Dr. Garrett, the Chief Inspector in charge of the enquiry : it had, he said, proved a very difficult two days as there had been continual friction ; it was clear that Spencer-Smith "had completely lost the confidence of the Board of Management", though the Minister could assume that "the dismissal was not malicious but the result of a feeling that he was bad for the school. . . . The dismissal was reasonably justified but the faults were by no means all on the side of C. F. Spencer-Smith whose teaching ability was not questioned and who deserves a good deal of sympathy".

It could all have been so different. Here is how one of his pupils remembers him

He was always well groomed. He had grey hair parted down the middle, was broad shouldered, 5' 9" tall and wore a double-breasted, dark blue, pin-stripe suit. At times he walked about with his four fingers in his coat pocket and his thumbs sticking out. He had a commanding appearance. When he came into a classroom there was silence, and to be called to his study was a thing to be dreaded.

Sunday afternoon was letter-writing time, and at 7.0 o'clock the Juniors would troop along to the sitting-room [which has become the reception room opposite the Head's study]. He would be sitting over by the window reading, would take off his steel-rimmed reading glasses, and each junior would stand at the door holding up his letter showing one side and then the other. All C.F.S.S. wanted to see was a decent length, clear and tidy.

I can remember well to this day that when some teacher or other was unable to take one class, S.S. took us into the Library, a place where Juniors were not usually allowed. We sat around the big polished table on hair-covered chairs. I still hear the sound of his voice reading : "Break, break, break, on thy cold grey stones, oh sea. . . ." (G. Leslie Stephenson. Manuscript in Lisburn Strong Room.)

`Say what you like', said Denis Barritt, the son of Spencer-Smith's Chairman of Governors, `his English teaching got me a scholarship to Bootham'. Or, again, here is M. I. Lesley Parke:

I thought he was a very good headmaster who looked the part and always seemed to act with dignity. . . . As he came round a door, he sort of rose on his toes and then walked erectly to his dining table. . . . During his ,time as Head he felt that our table manners might be improved by dining at his table, and for some time the Senior boys and girls went up in pairs for meals : I am not sure whether it produced the desired effect. . . I was very fond of him and enjoyed the occasional Sunday evening when our turn came to have supper or tea with him in Middle House. He had a habit of stroking his face with his hand and one day in class he set his hand on some ink which had been spilled and then drew his hand down his face ! Of course, the class tittered and he was quite bewildered. He said: `If you have regard for me, Christine, tell me what is wrong'. This was addressed to Christine Ward and I suppose she enlightened him.

J. Arnold Benington always says that he owed a great deal to Spencer-Smith's kindness. Interviewed by him in the same drawing-room where he inspected the Juniors' letters, Arnold found himself facing the window that looks onto the lawn and superb beech tree in front of the main door -

Presently a sparrow-hawk swooped into my line of sight and lifted a blackbird that had been feeding on the lawn near the sundial. I fear my attention wandered and it was perhaps 10-15 seconds before I came back to earth and realised that the imposing-looking Headmaster sitting opposite me was looking at me with a rather quizzical expression. Obviously some kind of reply or remark was expected of me, but to save my life, (or job) I could not remember what had been the last subject of conversation. So I apologised and attempted to explain. I had little hope that he would understand for at that stage in my life (24 years of age) I had met very few people who thought that wildly zealous naturalists were anything but rather queer folk.

But I had misjudged Spencer-Smith and he smiled tolerantly and very kindly, and said that he admired enthusiasm such as mine : it was exactly what he was looking for in a teacher and I had got myself the job !

Or, again, here is another testimony to a perhaps unsuspected side of Spencer-Smith ; once again Arnold Benington tells the tale :

On the last day of the Christmas term, probably in December 1928, the staff had, as was usual then, walked down to the Railway Station after breakfast to see the pupils off. We were prepared for some unpleasantness on this occasion at the leavetaking since three boys that were to be expelled were leaving by that train. But all behaved with apparent decorum and restraint as the train pulled out : secretly we were rather pleased with ourselves (not to say surprised) though outwardly of course we expected nothing less !

However, walking back together up the small drive early on this mid-winter morning, as we turned the corner of the drive opposite the cottage, I happened to be walking beside the Head. Suddenly I was surprised by a hearty chuckle. I looked at him to see him smiling broadly and gazing up at the school. "Goodbye, Cyril", he said and laughed again. Mildly alarmed, I also looked in the direction of his gaze and saw the reason. Strung between two chimneys on top of Middle House was a banner that the departing boys had obviously printed, and at some personal risk hoisted there sometime during the night.

It is pleasant to report that Spencer-Smith had a very good last term at Lisburn. There was at one time some doubt about holding Old Scholars' Day, but the Head was keen that the usual school routine should continue. So the 42nd annual meeting of Old Scholars took place at the start of the summer term when, as W. H. Lamb announced from the chair, the customary grey hairs and bald heads were surrounded by many young faces. The reports were presented, there was fellowship and fun, and Spencer-Smith as host said

I think that when we look back over past happenings some of the happiest will be the Old Scholars' Meeting. I do want this, my last annual meeting, to be the best you have had, and it will be no fault of mine or my wife's if it is not so. I thank you all very much indeed.

-`prolonged applause', noted the Lisburn Standard, in its lengthy account of the occasion.

Sports Day, too, was a success. `Rain fell throughout the afternoon, but enthusiasm was not damped. . . . Mrs. Barritt was unable to be present, and the cups were gracefully handed over by Mrs. Foster, wife of the Headmaster of Royal Academy. . . . Mr. Foster, in the course of a few remarks, paid a warm tribute to Mr. C. SpencerSmith, who he said, was the most popular man in the Headmasters' Association. (Applause.) Mr. Harper (Lurgan College) also spoke'. This account, too, is from the Lisbarn Standard.

Just before the end of term Spencer-Smith was honoured by parents, pupils and friends in the Temperance Institute in Lisburn. Many day scholars were there on a Saturday evening to hear the Rev. R. W. Hamilton, D.D., speak from the chair of his friend's `intellectual and teaching attainments which, along with his sterling Christian character, had greatly influenced those at the school during his headship'. In reply Spencer-Smith acknowledged what "a great honour it was to him to know that his work had been appreciated by those eminently qualified to judge".

The Headmaster who succeeded him, John M. Douglas, wrote of his final years

Spencer-Smith found a very useful career at Methodist College, Belfast, and settled down at Balmoral for nineteen years. The death of his wife Ethel in 1939 left him lonely. But he remained an optimist : he did not give in to old age or infirmity. Even after he had passed the final age for retirement, he kept alive and busy with coaching and other educational jobs.

He died rather suddenly, 3rd December 1948, while on a visit to his daughter in England. His last resting place is in Drumbeg Churchyard, where his wife also had been buried.

His last visit to F.S.L. was in 1945, when he acted as Superintendent of the Certificate Examination in the gym. The work was almost too much for his strength, but he got through it. He was interested in many little changes in buildings and school life. He departed, appreciated and appreciative, leaving his good wishes for the success of the school.

A few days later, he wrote to John and Norah Douglas a letter dated 30th June, 1945, the greater part of which was

I have been much impressed by all you are doing, especially by the tone of the school. The reactions of the pupils are more than the great structural improvements and exam. results, however good they may be. An old schoolmaster should be able to assess the tone. This I think is due to the absence of restraint. At Lisburn in my day . . . there was nothing like the freedom of a well-ordered family that is so evident at Lisburn now, notably in the streets, on the train and the platform. It is a great achievement.

In view of the unhappiness of much of Spencer-Smith's Headship, these words of praise of his successor are splendidly honest, the words of a sensitive and generous spirit. They prompt us to reflect, as we perhaps always should when confronted by unrealised intentions, on the sense of waste that accomplishes the failure of what might have been rich fulfilment. Yet who knows ? So imperfect are human beings that it may ultimately be that, to quote the words which Chaucer gives the erring Cressida, `the intent is all'.

The possibility o f Closure

The financial record of the school during these thirty years is interesting, and recurrent deficits often placed the Headmasters in difficulties about which staff and pupils were usually blissfully ignorant. At the start of W. D. Braithwaite's headship, when there were no signs of impending trouble, the Committee bravely followed an expansionist policy. From 1899 to 1909 the new bathroom wing and enlarged Science laboratory, along with other less important improvements, were paid for by �1,329 of invested capital and �1,339 of donations and revenue. After that, no further important capital expenditure took place until the 1930's and then mainly on the day school. Indeed, the boarding departments had to wait until the 1970's for major renovation and rebuilding.

It was in 1909 that the first signs of crisis clearly appeared with the drop in boarding numbers to fifty-seven (they had been seventy-three in 1907) and a deficit of �262 ; a year later, when W. D. Braithwaite retired, the school debt had grown to �680, a burden which handicapped John Ridges from the first. For the departure of 'Da' split the Society so that numbers fell to an alarming thirty-six, and in 1911 a further �463 was lost. This loss of over �1,000 in two years swallowed the �925 of the `debt extinction' fund which the Committee set up. For the next five years things improved, until in 1915 the deficit was a mere �1 and in 1916 income at last exceeded expenditure. But the recovery was achieved only by rigid economies and by the postponement of necessary work.

It was now, in 1917, that in response to widespread Quaker discussion about education, Ireland Yearly Meeting appointed a Committee to consider the whole question of the nation's four Quaker schools. Made up of twenty-nine names honoured throughout the Society and helped by the `professional inspection of Charles R. J. Tipper, Director of Education for Westmorland, and Mary F. Hartley, Headmistress of Ackworth', it presented its report to the Yearly Meeting of the following year, 1918. It was a model of common sense and clear expression. The Committee's recognition that `the Friends of the first two centuries attached more importance to Quaker education than we do now', enabled it to avoid adopting impressive but unhelpful postures as it addressed itself realistically to problems which still perplex the Society in both England and Ireland.

The four schools were Brookfield, Mountmellick, Newtown, and Ulster Provincial. Between them, the Committee noted in its factual way, they had room for 236 boarders ; in fact, they totalled 229 pupils of whom eighty-six had Quaker parents. Of the thirty-five resident staff, seventeen were Friends. And things were equally unsatisfactory financially, for over the previous five years the schools had lost just over �1,000 between them, or about �55 each a year-'not much, but when it is remembered that more than half the children are non-Friends . . . the position is not satisfactory'.

As these words reveal, the Committee's over-riding interest was in the schools' relationships with their parent Society. Educationally, there was much to commend in all four ; Quakerwise, there were serious drawbacks

a lack of the teaching of Friends' history and principles ; poorly paid staff ;
the disadvantages of smallness ; and
poor buildings, each house being originally a private house
with later additions.

All of these combined to make them schools which provided a cheap rather than a Quaker education. This was, in the Committee's view, highly unsatisfactory : Quaker schools should be Quaker, efficient, and open equally to the children of all Friends, whatever their circumstances.

We can, it reported, see only three possibilities before us

1. That the present Schools should be given up or allowed to die out.
We are quite convinced that if the Society is to continue, it is necessary to ensure an education for its children under Quaker influences, and we view with dismay the possibility that in a few years, for want of adequate support, our Schools may be crippled and, therefore, practically useless and liable to extinction.

2. That they should be improved so as to be in accordance with modern requirements.
We estimate that to put the present Schools in a satisfactory position it would be necessary to raise at least �30,000 for improvements in premises and increased endowment, and even then they would continue to be chiefly for the benefit of children who are not connected with Friends, and the ideal of Quaker education would not be attainable.

3. That they should be amalgamated.
After much consideration we have come to the conclusion that the best plan would be TO SUBSTITUTE ONE CENTRAL YEARLY MEETING SCHOOL FOR OUR FOUR PRESENT ONES. A single school would be more economical in its working. A resident staff of ten or twelve would be adequate for its needs, and the salaries at present paid would be sufficient to pay the smaller staff at a much higher rate. Similar economies would be effected in general expenses, in improvement of equipment, and in various other ways. A new school would start with better and more modern premises, and in our opinion Friends as a whole, especially outside Ireland, would be more willing to help in the foundation of a new and well designed and organised venture than to subscribe towards improvements in three or four old institutions, where the money would probably not be spent to so much advantage. We also feel that anything which tends to a closer union between Friends of North, Centre and South will be an inestimable benefit to the Society as a whole.

These clear and thoughtful words deal with basic issues which are still unresolved amongst Friends. Even more, for example, than in 1918, the Lisburn school of the 1970's caters mainly for non-Friends. So for that matter do the English Quaker schools. And many Quakers ask themselves if it is right that so much of the Society's time and energy should be spent in this way. It is a constantly recurring theme of the correspondence columns of the Quaker weekly magazine, `The Friend', as well of many Monthly and General Meetings, and for some reason it often produces ill-temper and hasty utterances. The report of the Education Reconstruction Committee avoids all such pitfalls ; it is a splendid piece of work which shows Irish Quakerism at its best.

For all that, its recommendations were not accepted, nor could they have been at that particular time in Irish history, at least as far as Ulster Provincial School was concerned. It was struggling, it was true, and there had been, and was soon to be again, talk of closing it. But no-one envisaged its replacement by a school for 120 Quaker pupils `near Dublin, with easy access to open country', which is what the Reconstruction Committee suggested. Any school worth the name boasts past and present scholars, staff and others who feel greatly bound up in its existence and traditions, and who would fight hard against its closure. And so in Ulster the strong sense of attachment to the Provincial School was too great to allow it to die in this way. For though Quaker tension and disagreement are a continuing part of the school's story, they are less important than the loyalty and affection it has inspired. Indeed, in a strange way, the tension was, and is, closely allied to the loyalty. Men get most excited about the things they most care for, and the school had been too long part of the distinctive Quaker life in Ulster to allow it to be laid down in favour of an idea, however persuasively presented. `The least disputable statement which can be made about the distinctiveness of Ulster from the rest of Ireland is that it had always existed', A. T. Q. Stewart has said, and it is perhaps applicable to Ulster Quakerism, too. In any event, the fierce pride of the Ulsterman had been yet further intensified by the 1914-18 War, and especially by the magnificent sacrifice of the 36th (Ulster) Division at the Battle of the Somme. It did not matter that the terrible losses were militarily and politically futile. They were a fact, a part of the story that has made Ulster what it is. `I am not an Ulsterman', wrote the already sympathetic Capt. W. B. Spender, in celebrated words, `but yesterday, the 1st July, as I followed their amazing attack, I felt that I would rather be an Ulsterman than anything else in the world'.

So when, in accordance with Yearly Meeting's request, Ulster Quarterly Meeting met on a Monday morning, 28th October 1918, to discuss the Reconstruction Committee's proposal, it passed the following minute

We have had a lengthy discussion on the important subject of the proposed amalgamation of the three provincial schools in Ireland [Brookfield had finally been regarded as in a special category and was therefore left out of the matter]. There is a strong feeling amongst us against the closing of our school at Lisburn. The Yearly Meeting is to be informed that this Quarterly Meeting is not at present prepared to give its consent to the closing of the school at Lisburn, or the transfer of its funds and property to a new institution, and does not therefore at this time agree to the scheme outlined in the printed report, but we suggest that the Reconstruction Committee might be continued with a view to assisting in such improvements or ro6
changes as altering circumstances may make necessary or desirable.
Cecil Walpole March, Clerk.

There is something very typical about the choice of words -`a strong feeling against . . .' and `not prepared at present to give its consent . . .' A matter for regret, some may think, sensing the craggy assertiveness of Ulster life ? Perhaps. But a matter, too, for pride. What we have built, the Quarterly Meeting was saying, we hold, unless we ourselves come to feel otherwise. And as `altering circumstances' were soon to include Partition, it is difficult to guess what would have happened had Ulster Friends agreed to the change.

The debate had begun against a background of improved finances at Lisburn ; it ended amid the difficulties of war-time inflation and the fearful 'flu epidemic of 1918 and 1919. Again the school was in debt; and by the end of the school year 1920-21, the loss was a shattering �1,024. And again, the possibility of closure was discussed, but a number of individuals guaranteed �500 a year for five years to ensure that C. F. Spencer-Smith would not come to a dying school. The trouble was that annual expenditure continued to rise, the �4,000 of 1918 becoming �7,300 by 1923 - an annual requirement beyond the wildest imaginings of John Hancock and his executors. Yet, ironically, from this low point, the school's finances steadily improved even as the disagreements between the Committee and Spencer-Smith deepened. In the report for 1927/28 the school actually paid to the bursary fund a rent which had been previously remitted and there are even references to the need for a new kitchen, an enlarged hall and electric light. This confidence had two main causes : better enrolments and increases in payments from �300 to �1,300 by the Ministry of Education. And, in fact, when Spencer-Smith left in 1929, there was once more a surplus in the school account. Although it was not at first realised, from this time on financial worries grew far less serious. In common with Grammar Schools throughout the United Kingdom, Friends School, Lisburn, had embarked on an expansion which was to continue until well after the end of the Second World War.

They were difficult years for Governors. There were still twenty-four of them, a large number to be an effective executive committee, and they inherited some unhelpful attitudes from their predecessors, at times no doubt adding unwisdom of their own. But in one supremely important way they have left all lovers of the school in their debt : they had the faith to go on. Their chairman, Ronald Barritt, helped sometimes by the much younger Aubrey Harding, were tireless in their efforts to enrol new pupils ; they turned out on cold wet nights to visit distant Friends' homes where they had heard of possible boarders. William H. Turtle, Chairman before Ronald Barritt and always splendidly firm in his faith in the school's future, strongly and successfully opposed a movement to sell the field between Ardmore and the new classroom block (then a hockey, now a rugby pitch). And the suggestion to run boarding department for girls only was not seriously envisaged for all Winifred G. Squire's understandable and eloquent statement of her case. In spite of countless difficulties, the Committee of Governors remained faithful to the spirit of John Hancock's will - a school for boys and girls. We remain in their debt.


But scholars of those days who look back on them do not recall that kind of thing, all-important though it was. Instead, they see the school going about its work much as schools do, and as they get older there come into their memories isolated scenes which for them give the flavour of far-off days on Prospect Hill : Da Braithwaite hobbling about on crutches after his accident ; Joseph Marsh and Edwin Squire, weighty and prosperous-looking Committee members dressed in broadcloth, walking about the grounds discussing (though few knew it) whether the school should continue to keep pigs in the palatial building behind the dining-room ; John M. Douglas of the top class working as usual in the library, his head propped on his hand ; Dorothy Green `whose broad brow, keen intellectual eye and winsome ways promised a distinguished career tragically cut short by the Lough Neagh disaster of 1904'; the Hallowe'en parties of earlier days, always ending with the Grand Old Duke of York ; fruit-picking at Richhill (`or was it satisfying ourselves from the strawberry beds ?') during the First World War ; a long-forgotten teacher, Mr. Sinclair, at the school for only one year but with an enthusiasm so intense that at least one pupil remembered it for the rest of his life ; Willie Conn, either walking round with his friend William Glynn or drawing his much-admired cartoons ; new pupils discussing the reputations of teachers they had yet to meet ("Miss Squire is bad but Miss Sinton is far worse") ; two girls whose long hair had been plaited together by the small boy in the desk behind ; the dining-room with Miss Patterson wriggling back into her chair and the wraith-like Miss Hunter balanced precariously on the edge of hers ; the deaf and dumb laundress, a great friend of the girls, who always seemed to works in clouds of steam ; Tommy Maine in one of his furious rages ; and the small, plain, almost insignificant-looking James Woolman with his prominent Adam's apple, blowing his tuning whistle at Morning Collect or singing the Major General in "The Pirates of Penzance", or ending all school concerts by singing `Ah lucky Jim, how I envy him '. Quiet but respected by everyone because he was always fair.

But perhaps on these years before, during and after World War I, Arnold Marsh can have the last word. He is writing of the opening year of the century but also of a way of looking at a school which can never altogether die

The Head was part of the school, and the bad boys were part, and the bad masters and the good boys and the good masters, and the mistresses who couldn't teach, and the girls, and myself, and the man who cleaned the boots and went round fascinating us, poking up the fires with his bare fist. They were all part of it, and the gymnasium and playing fields and the legends, and Hughie Murray. Hughie told of an earlier time when the Lisburn town rugby team in the Ulster senior cup final were faced with a scoreless drawn game, played, and fought, on the field below the Cinders (the boys' playground) but at the last moment a Lisburn man dropped a goal, the greatest goal that ever was dropped anywhere in the world, from his own 25, and won the cup. Ah, if only I could hear Hughie Murray, the wonderful school carpenter, telling about it again, and pass on his telling of it ! That goal, that day, or that school field, was the greatest thing on earth, like myself after discovering the fire in the workshop, powerful, powerful. . . .
I have no loving recollections of those days ; none whatever, but for sheer excitement, I think I never knew any others to equal them.