Neville H. Newhouse




The School under
John and Norah Douglas

Although it may not have been realised then, the 1920's and 30's were a time of very great change for the school. The guarded education which had been its original aim grew less and less possible. Every additional day-scholar helped to take the school further away from it ; equally, every additional day-scholar moved the school nearer towards the time when it would accept public funds. Throughout the United Kingdom these were the years to see the start of the age of the grammar schools. But in Ulster there was a difference. There, religious denominations were particularly unwilling to lose their control over schools, and this applied to all sects - Roman Catholic, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian, Methodist, Quaker. All of them wanted the help of local authorities, but not at the price of allowing their schools to be local-authority-controlled. It was with this problem that the Province's Education Acts of 1923, 1930 and 1947 were mainly concerned. At the insistence of the churches, the Acts provided for many more voluntary schools than in England, and it was into this pattern that the Lisburn Quaker School was soon to fit. By accepting local day scholars it was fulfilling a local educational need. Without it the Education Committee of County Antrim would have had to build and maintain at least one new Secondary School in Lisburn. To support and enlarge the existing Friends and Wallace High Schools was the obvious course of action, and it was followed so quietly as to be almost unremarked on. The Stormont Government laid down strict conditions for the aiding of voluntary schools, and at different times and in different ways the governing bodies agreed to the conditions and accepted the money.

The New Headmaster

No such large considerations mattered much, however, at the time when John M. and Norah Douglas came to Lisburn. Their immediate task was to settle the school into a peaceful, ordered life after the frustrations and crises of the previous half dozen years. `If', said one greatly respected Quaker and member of the School Committee (Sylvia Green, quoted by Florence Patterson), `If we don't get the right man this time, we may as well close'. As it happens, John M. Douglas carefully kept many documents from this time of his life ; they speak for themselves of the pecularly difficult, even harassing situation which he encountered.

He had been at the school both as a pupil and as an assistant master, and at the time of his appointment as Headmaster he was at Newtown as Second Master to Arnold Marsh. He knew quite well that the school was in serious trouble. Before submitting his formal application, he wrote to Ronald Barritt enquiring what his salary would be and what direction the school was expected to take. The reply, courteous but not particularly informative (it hardly could have been), was sufficiently re-assuring to draw from John Douglas a firm application. An enquiry on behalf of the Committee to Newtown's Headmaster brought the following typically honest and unconventional comment from Arnold Marsh

... John M. Douglas is a much more experienced teacher than I am and knows a great deal more about the organisation of schools and about methods of teaching. Our relative positions here are for that reason absurd, and they have only lasted because the financial position of Newtown could have made a share for him in the headmastership much less lucrative than the senior mastership, and he has his family to consider. I, on the other hand, have to bear the burden of resuscitating Newtown and therefore feel averse to allowing my present autocratic position to be undermined in any way. . . . Neither he nor his wife are likely to be content with Lisburn in its present state, and I shall be surprised if within a few years time they have not instigated you Ulster Friends to make it at least as good a school as Newtown. It ought to be far better.

Both of them are greatly interested in the Society of Friends and take an active part in the life of the Meeting here, and John M. Douglas knows more about Quakers and Quakerism in Ireland than anyone else I have ever met. Both of them being Lisburn Old Scholars know plenty about the seamy side of the life of the scholars and are not nearly so likely to have the wool pulled over their eyes as strangers would be. . . .

The words make no mention of an aspect of the convictions of John - and indeed Norah - Douglas which cannot have been acceptable to large numbers of the Committee and of Ulster Friends : they believed in a united Ireland. As long ago as 1920 John Douglas had been engaged in correspondence in The Friend. The final paragraph of a letter of his published on 30th April of that year read

As for constructive policy, I fear neither Home Rule Bills, nor release of prisoners nor withdrawal of troops can achieve anything without an accompanying change of heart in those who control British policy. Sooner or later, a British Ministry will conquer its prejudices, give up its claim to moral superiority and make a Peace Treaty with Irish nationalism on equal terms. Sinn Finn and Ulster will also have to climb down and treat with England and each other. This is an adventurous policy but it might succeed. The present policy in Ireland is equally dangerous and offers no hope for the future.

Written in the year before Partition, these words are clear and uncompromising ; and though as Headmaster of a growing school serving a whole local community, John Douglas did not obtrude his views in later life, he did not change them. He believed in one Ireland, even if he was not, like his brother James, politically active. And James' activities were another thing difficult for many Ulster Friends to regard with equanimity. Suggestions in later years that he should become President of the Old Scholars Association came to nothing-the opposition was too strong.

Fortunately, however, and no doubt after much soul-searching and discussion, the Lisburn Committee appointed John Douglas to the Headship. To onlookers it must have seemed an unenviable position to hold. For the old divisions were all still there, Spencer-Smith's supporters being still unreconciled to his dismissal. Charles B. Lamb spoke for the most generous of them when he wrote to John Douglas on 19th April 1929

In the matter of Lisburn School, if a change has to be made I am glad you have been offered the Headmastership. For my part I had hoped for an extension of time in which to regain confidence in the present Head -but the Committee has felt otherwise and as I said to Henrietta Bulla, I hoped that if a change was being made the post would be offered to an Irish Friend.

The fact that you applied for the post implies forethought and a willingness to act and judge. May this feeling be confirmed as the other prelimaries are going through so that you and Norah may enter upon so important a service with a comfortable sense of the Heavenly Father's guidance and approval.

You have I learn been queried as to accepting C. F. SpencerSmith as assistant master and I trust that this idea will not be in any way objectionable to you. Unless something nearer to his mind is forthcoming he is in real need of such a post. . . .

Kind and frank words, written just when needed.

In the absence of the Chairman of the School Committee, John M. Douglas would write to the Vice-Chairman, Cecil Walpole Marsh. One such early letter produced the following interesting reply, dated 29th March 1929

Dear John,
I appreciate your `Dear Cecil Marsh' in the inside of your letter. It is plain, Quakerly and friendly. Your Cecil Marsh on the outside of the envelope appears somewhat inappropriate on the outside of a public postal wrapper. Many people with middle names like to see them at least indicated. There may be few in Northern Ireland whose ancestors have been entitled to the designation 'Esq.', and for that reason there may be the more who lay stress on it. I am under the impression that I, as a graduate of a British University, am entitled to it. However it is not of myself I am thinking, and I am extremely anxious that the new head of Lisburn may create a favourable impression all round, and Northern upstarts do like all their titles, dignitaries and tags.

Yours very sincerely,
Cecil Walpole Marsh.

`Making a favourable impression' was not likely to be easy.

From the School Committee's point of view, however, the main problem once the new Headmaster had been appointed, was to find a Senior Mistress. Since Miss Budd's resignation no-one had taken full responsibility for this very important post. Henrietta Bulla as convener of the Staffing Committee wrote a number of letters about this. Herself a pupil at the school from 1873-79, she had taught in both The Mount and Saffron Walden before returning to Lisburn in 1892 where she remained until her early retirement in 1902 soon after W. D. Braithwaite's arrival. She understood the position only too well. From the first, John Douglas naturally wanted his wife Norah to take the position. Did he, one wonders, know of the Committee's inability ever since 1874 and very likely earlier, to co-operate with the Head's wife ? If he did, he would not have been surprised by Henrietta Bulla's letter of 21st April 1929

Several Friends were a little doubtful about Norah taking the position of Senior Mistress, which is agreed for a year, after which they think she should be released and another appointment made. A FRIEND for this post is desired. I explained your views and Norah's with regard to this and other matters, and all were pleased to think of good organisation and good will in prospect.

The search for older, experienced staff went on, with everything made more difficult by the fact that Spencer-Smith remained at the school until July 1929.

`I think', wrote Henrietta Bulla on 14th July, `the situation at Lisburn must surely be worse than in 1911. For one thing a very much longer time has been given in which to work up the feelings of either party. . . . The atmosphere of rumour and gossip is most trying and is very difficult to deal with. . . .'

She and some of the Committee were very disappointed a few days later when the experienced Miss G who had applied for a post refused to come unless offered more money. `Governors', reflected Henrietta, `must learn that good salaries will need to be paid'.

Wisely, it was decided to ask James Woolman to remain for one further and final year. Although he was 66 and suffered from failing sight, his long service which had made him in fact if not in name senior master ever since W. D. Braithwaite's time, was bound to be a steadying influence. Under J. B. Ridges he had undertaken a very great deal of the organising work of the school and had been one of the few under C. F. Spencer-Smith who had through hard work and simple goodness kept everyone's respect. `I think', he wrote to John Douglas, `that the key to the situation is to pull up the Lower School at all costs in discipline and standard. It would pay better to do this and let the Upper Forms suffer from inexperienced teaching'.

It was necessary also to let it be known publicly that the school was again on the move and would welcome new pupils. The Secretary, Frank Squire, asked for guidance from the new Headmaster

I shall be glad if you will kindly prepare an advertisement which you think will appeal to parents. John Ridges' idea was to emphasise the `bracing and healthy situation'. Mr. SpencerSmith's idea was more to stress the fact of `good honours degrees'. Other schools make a point of individual attention and the fact that they cater for the kindergarten child as well as the Matriculation and University examination. (19th July 1929).

It was in such circumstances that John and Norah Douglas and their family came to Lisburn in August 1929. They remained until they retired in 1952.

The new Head was slightly built and of about average height. Like himself, his parents and grandparents had been at the school as pupils. Norah Douglas always took special pleasure in Mary Tolerton's account quoted earlier of how soon after 1800 the master Samuel Douglas, John's great-uncle, rode off on horseback with the teacher Sarah Dickenson as his bride behind him `on a pillion'. After a brief spell at Lisburn as assistant master John Douglas had spent six years teaching in India. It was no doubt this period especially that enabled him to look at problems with a steady equanimity, for compared with the Indian scene, Lisburn with all its difficulties would not seem overwhelming- more like a considerable `fuss' (a favourite word of his) in a tiny, little-known corner of the Western world. So he was unlikely to magnify the importance of his task, as he showed little more than a month after the start of his first term, when in the presence of parents, committee and staff, he gave an address at what would now be called the Annual Speech Day. The following account of it appeared in the Lisburn Standard for 25th October 1929

The Headmaster said co-operation between teachers and parents was needed, not so much in the actual subjects of study as in a hundred other matters of importance to growing children, yet sometimes neglected. He instanced short sight, round shoulders, and girls overworking amongst others.

A school, emphasised the Headmaster, was more than a place for book-learning. Children learned as much by rubbing against one another as by formal lessons. In a good school young people would learn to consider themselves not merely as self-seeking individuals but as members of a community which was the beginning of citizenship. This respect was specially important in a boarding school, but all schools had their own traditions. Large schools had undoubted advantages in organisation and equipment, but small schools ought to be able to give great freedom to individual pupils to develop. But as no school was perfect it was important that parents and teachers should make acquaintance early and not await the moment when one or two had grounds for complaint.

This wise, sensible and practical approach to the school, which believed firmly in its smallness and in its concern with the full personality rather than with narrowly academic achievement, never changed. It was low-key, and all the better for being so. Nine years later, when he broadcast about the school he served so faithfully and loved so well, these were his concluding words:

... one may well ask : `is there anything left of the original ?' Well, yes, something remains.
Those old Quaker founders realised that gardens and green trees, and distant views are important parts of education. Thanks to their foresight, we have these advantages still.
They planned for girls as well as boys.
They believed in regular hours ; early to bed and early to rise.
They discovered in hobbies, especially in nature study, a great means of enriching character.
Behind their quaintly worded rules lay some fine Christian ideals about which they did not boast often. . . .

Early Years

With such a balanced, quiet outlook, it is not surprising that John Douglas successfully negotiated his potentially dangerous first term. He moved unobstrusively amongst staff and children, encouraging, learning, and establishing a firm routine. The Committee loyally stood by him, seemingly united as they had not been for many years. There was some difficulty about a non-Quaker child who, against long-established policy, was granted a rebate on the term's fees. Typically, John Douglas took full blame and found a compromise that settled the matter quietly. Unknown to anyone except his wife Norah, he kept a notebook in which he recorded observations on his early days. He continued his entries until 1941 and the book's survival is the kind of source which historians love. Its early, almost laconic entries run as follows

Notes on Evening and other Meetings

Sunday 8th September. Evening.
Headmaster on `All the different things you have to learn in life'.

Thursday September 12th
Headmaster on `Telling the Truth'. What hinders us : 1) Fear ; ii) Pleasing others ; iii) Indolence in finding out truth ; iv) bad English.

October 5th
At Assembly spoke about `not being quite straight' re boy with excuse from walk who was found playing games.

October 19th
Pupils not present for Headmaster's address but were talked to in the morning about manners in public especially grabbing for food and eating too much.

November 25th
Pupils began to read at morning assembly instead of Headmaster.

A.B. spoke at length including some unsuitable stories on hell.

The first report to the Governors meanwhile contained the following passage

As far as possible we have postponed making sudden changes in any direction, until we have first-hand experience, but a few seemed inevitable.

For many years the word `Meeting' has figured on the Thursday time-table, but in practice this was very far from what could be called a Friends' Meeting. Usually the pupils sang two hymns and the Headmaster read an address. I have cut this out and instead I have replaced the scripture lesson in its old position in the day time, when day scholars are present as well as boarders. In addition I have recommended the custom of beginning morning school with a hymn and Bible reading, attended by all. Although this is of necessity rather a formality, yet it should have a valuable place in the religious life of the school, and act as a reminder that prayer and praise are not confined to Sunday.

So the Thursday morning Meeting for Worship in school, which had by now replaced the weekly visit to the Meeting House, ended as it was bound to, for older Friends had themselves ceased to hold mid-week Meetings soon after the end of the First World War. (Joseph Hobson of Lisburn, himself an indefatigable attender of the Society's meetings, once told me that in his boyhood days before 1900 he knew of a Friend called Thursday Brown because he never missed the Brookfield Thursday morning Meeting for Worship.) A year later, John Douglas sent to each member of the school committee a long memorandum suggesting that on Sundays boarding pupils be allowed to attend the church of their choice rather than made to go Meeting for Worship. It is too long to quote here but may be found in the Lisburn Strong Room and bears testimony to its author's clear 116
mind, common sense, far-sightedness and persuasiveness in a matter which was still before the Conference of Quaker Heads in 1960, brought forward by Thomas Green of Bootham just before he retired. The change was duly made.

Other changes came in due time, mainly unobstrusive apart from the building of the extension in 1936. The Dining Room arrangements were modified. The pupils were put in groups of seven or eight with a member of staff at each. The system of serving the same menu once a week on the same day ceased, fruit and salad appearing more often and sausages more rarely. There was a visiting drill mistress, Miss Greta Woods, and the fact that she also taught at St. Mary's and St. Dominic's in Belfast gave rise to a rumour that much alarmed some members of the Quarterly Meeting that she was a Roman Catholic ; in fact, she was an Anglican. Overseas visitors came more often, two Indians staying a week-end and two American Friends intriguing pupils by parading in old Quaker bonnets. Following the installation of an electric washer and dryer (price 45) and an electric ironer four feet wide (price 70), more and more laundry was done by pupils. The ironer was in the school as late as 1970 though not in use. In a further effort to save money and to increase the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables, the school garden was cultivated more intensively. Teaching staff left less often and there appeared for the first time some who were destined to serve the school for many years, Miss Kathleen Young, in particular.


The numbers rose steadily. Totalling just under 100 when SpencerSmith left, they were 136 by 1932, 172 by 1937 and 195 at the outbreak of the war. Seventy of the last number were boarders. The annual loss on current expenditure which continued for John Douglas' first three years became a modest credit. True, it was always needed (even in 1934 when it ran at an unheard of 473) to help to pay off the overdraft or to finance some capital expenditure, but its existence was a welcome change. What was happening was that the stronger day school was ensuring financial stability, although the boarding department remained a very different matter.

Slowly, examinations became important. Like John Gough, John Douglas did not lay any great stress on them. The 1930 report, signed by the chairman of Committee, Ronald Barritt, contains the following paragraph, very likely written by the Headmaster,

In June fifteen pupils sat for the examinations of the Ministry of whom twelve passed. Three gained the Senior Certificate . . . and nine the Junior Certificate. . . . This is satisfactory, showing that our standard of teaching will bear comparison with other schools. But we do not lay too much stress on results, as they depend very much on the native ability of the pupils, and it is sometimes more creditable to obtain a pass with a dull pupil than several distinctions with a clever one.

The precise implications of the words are not clear -had the school a large number of dull pupils or did it leave the clever ones to work out their own salvation ? More likely the meaning is that the school did not select pupils on the basis of an entry examination and therefore had a much wider range of ability than the well-known Belfast schools. But words of this kind occur regularly in annual reports, sometimes with the further reflection that "bookish knowledge" has limited value. And on the whole up to 1939, the Senior and junior results were quite ordinary,- the fact that the reports refer to them reflects their increasing importance to the public at large. There were nine Senior Certificates in 1937, six in 1938 and, disappointingly, only three in 1939. John Douglas was for his part much more interested in the local survey which the new Globe Club was undertaking, spurred on and supervised by that splendid teacher Douglas Hill. Pupils drew scale maps of the school fields and of the outskirts of Lisburn ; they delved into the history of nearby buildings. This to John Douglas was real learning, the kind at which he himself excelled. It was the sort of thing many of his pupils enjoyed and carried with them through their lives.

The buildings grew. In 1930 cloakrooms and toilets for girls were built at the foot of the stairs leading to the kitchen ; the biggest girls' dormitory was partitioned (and remained so until 1970); the eight coal fires were replaced by electric radiators, and an appeal was launched for 1,000. A year later, hot water pipes replaced most of the electric fires and some Old Scholars presented the girls' side with "thirty up-to-date desks". The Committee's Annual Report ended with the words "we commend their example to others". In due course there were more changes - a Geography Room was made out of the old Lecture Room (it was known as L M until 1965 after which geography was taught in the New Building). There was also the uncertainty of the school's water supply. Prospect Hill was one of the highest sites in town with the result that any water shortage was felt there first. The drought of 1934 was so extreme that the Swimming Bath was used for only four weeks of the summer term. A new well was therefore dug in the grounds and an electric pump installed for use in emergency. Once again, "the main avenue which had become very rough, was re-surfaced and rolled during the summer".

All this, however, was unimportant compared with the 1935-6 major extension out towards the brae. It had been under serious discussion since 1932 when the Ministry of Education had inspected the school (a four-yearly event for all Ulster's Secondary Schools). The report was very satisfactory, praising the teaching, efficiency and general tone, which latter "did credit to those controlling the school". But such reports made clear the Ministry's requirements for school buildings and it was obvious that the expanding numbers of day scholars had to have extra classrooms. They were added on to Room A, as it had long been called, and gave the school Rooms C, E and the Domestic Room. Underneath these new rooms were built a girls' playroom and cloakroom, long known after the War as P.A. and P.B.

With foresight, the extension was designed so that a top storey could be added later if necessary. The original estimate of the cost was 2,900 of which the Lisburn and Belfast Regional Education Committee paid 2,000. Eventually it cost 5,475 and the excellent builder was Isaac Thompson, who when called on, undertook building work for the school until his retirement in the mid 1960's. The 1936 report tells us

The various operations and processes carried on by ever-changing groups of workmen were watched with dry interest by our pupils from September 1935 to April.

At times the noise made teaching difficult, and dust and mud spread everywhere . . . although the new room did not come into final use until the new school year, a formal opening was organised for June 3rd. Over 200 visitors inspected the building, and listened to interesting addresses given by the Vice-Chancellor of Queen's University and others.

The school's growth brought other changes. Physics and Chemistry were now very important subjects ; the old Lisnagarvey hockey field was used for rugby ; the school pony was replaced by a motor mower ; a Prize Distribution was held annually in the Orange Hall ; and the Cottage, previously rented out to friendly tenants, was renovated and occupied by younger boarders. There was, it was generally agreed, a pleasant atmosphere. Pupils were fairly free without being too free. They respected, but were not frightened of, the staff. And boarders still did some of those things approved long ago by that other John who was the first Headmaster - they read their Bibles, discussed topical issues and looked after colourful garden plots in front of the new wing. The school's reputation grew beyond Quaker circles and in 1938 John Douglas broadcast a typically direct, simple and modest account of its quiet history. In 1939 the hockey team reached the Schools' Cup Final for the first time since 1930. This was a fine reward for the many years of enthusiastic coaching of J. Arnold Benington ; that he broke his leg while practising with the team was a less welcome reward. The final against Banbridge was drawn and the replay lost. The team, the forerunner of a long succession of fine and successful Friends' teams, was H. Henning, R. K. Browne, S. Wilson, M. Jess, W. R. Edwards, P. S. McCabe, B. Johnson, H. Cregan, G. Honeyford, W. Haughton and T. M. Harshaw. The following year, after an exciting game against Banbridge won 3-2 in extra time in spite of a half-time score of 0-2, the cup came to Lisburn accompanied by wildly enthusiastic pupils. This team was Ambrose Maxwell, Henry Abraham, Hal Henning, Colin Doak, Ken Browne (capt.), Harold Cregan, Bill Haughton, Ken Haughton, Wesley Edwards, Mayne Harshaw and Stanley Wilson.

War-time Evacuation

There were, however, less reassuring portents. Towards the end of 1939 summer term an Air Raid Precautions officer arrived to fit boarders with gas masks. For several days after, pacifists and non-pacifists argued their beliefs heatedly, then went off to help Arthur Mail to erect new wire netting round the old grass tennis courts. Some boys became adept at pulling dandelions and other weeds out of the Head's garden-it was his favourite punishment. But all such naivets were replaced by more sinister activities after war broke out on 3rd September 1939. An air raid shelter was constructed outside classrooms F and G. The boys filled sandbags and piled them round it. Even the girls armed themselves with spades and helped with the work. Many more soldiers appeared at the Barracks just up the Magheralave Road ; they were allowed to use the school for hot baths, though they did not seem to take long over the operation. Then, one evening soon after all pupils were in bed, there was a great blowing of whistles, as the first serious Air Raid Practice was held. The black-out was a perpetual problem and some of the windows of the splendid dining-room were actually painted black. Traces of the paint and of the sticky tape put on to prevent splintering remained just visible until the room's demolition in 1973.

Still the school year was not irrevocably interrupted. A rook turned up with an injured wing. He was made welcome in Arnold Benington's lab. and fed out of pupils' hands, not always without incident, for he lacked an eye and was likely to peck the hand with the offering. Jakob Levin, the refugee pupil, took particular interest in him, until, lo, one day after many trial flutterings in the playing fields he took off and sailed away over the high trees to his freedom. It was more than was in store for the school. For in June the Headmaster received a visit from two representatives of the Ministry of Public Security, who asked leave to inspect the buildings. They told him that they were making a list of buildings suitable for use as temporary hospitals in case of emergency. It would, they said, be required only in the event of a calamity so great that school routine would in any case be dislocated. Before leaving the school, they asked the Head not to publish the fact of their visit.

On Monday 15th July, two R.A.M.C. officers called and asked leave to see the school buildings. They had in their hands a list of schools, evidently provided by the Ministry. Next day they returned with a superior officer, said they liked the site and thought it would almost certainly be requisitioned as a hospital, and that soon, as it was a matter of great urgency. The next day, Wednesday 17th July, one of the officers came again to say that the decision had been made and that a requisitioning order would arrive very soon. It was so. At 9.0 o'clock next morning an R.A.M.C. officer arrived at the school with two orderlies who lit a fire in order, they said, to cook food for fifty men expected to arrive in the afternoon. At noon a policeman handed the requisitioning order to the Head. It read as follows

Ministry of Public Security, Stormont,
4th July, 1940

I am directed by the Ministry of Public Security to state that the Ministry had had under review various premises in the neighbourhood of Belfast which could in grave emergency be adapted for use as supplementary hospitals. It has been decided that your school would in certain circumstances be suitable for such a purpose. I ask, therefore, that you will not allow your school to be reserved for any other purpose by the military or other authorities, without first consulting this Ministry.
I am to add that no immediate steps are contemplated for the equipment of your school as a hospital, but should such action become necessary the provision of beds, equipment and staff would be entirely in the hands of the Ministry.

I am, Sir,
Your obedient servant,
T. C. Brownlee
for Secretary.

The fact that similar afflictions had fallen on Campbell College (who moved to Portrush and settled down in the Northern Counties Hotel) was no comfort to Friends School, whose Headmaster and Governors now made great efforts for it. There was no time to convene a full Governors Meeting but there was an Emergency Committee which from now on met often. Its most active members were Ronald Barritt and Aubrey A. Harding, both of whom had accompanied John Douglas on a visit to T. C. Brownlee on Wednesday 17th July. It made no difference. Mr. Brownlee was sorry ; it was not his wish that schools should be used in this way, but he was powerless to prevent it ; he hoped that somehow both the boarding and day schools could be kept going.
That somehow they were was the reward of the loyalty and energy of many Friends, chief among whom were, of course, John and Norah Douglas. It was their courage and faith that carried the school through and beyond these enormous trials. First of all, Ronald Barritt and Aubrey Harding, sometimes with the Head, sometimes without, visited and pleaded the school's cause at a number of large local houses-they called on Colonel C. B. Graham of Larchfield, Auchnaleck, Mr. Fergus Wilson of Springfield, Brookmount, Captain D. C. Lindsay of Lissue House, and Miss Laura Pim of Lisnagarvey House (later Dr. Thompson's Nursing Home). Unsuccessful with all of them, they at last persuaded Winifred Graham, one of a long-established Quaker family, to leave her home, Ardfallen, and move to a small house in Finaghy so that senior girl boarders could occupy her home. A great many well-wishers allowed the school to use part of their premises. Lisnagarvey House offered their stables for storing things. The Y.W.C.A. Hall in Conway Street housed the Kindergarten and juniors. Sloane House, described by Sylvia E. Jess as a grim, solitary, and gaunt, three-storeyed red-brick Victorian building in Graham Gardens, also housed classes (it is now used by J. C. Patterson Ltd. as a store). And above all, there was Larkfield, a large friendly old house on a tangled estate in Dunmurry. It took most of the boarders.
Early on the morning of Monday 15th July the Douglas family had been looking forward to setting off the following Saturday for a holiday in Bantry Bay. By mid-day Thursday 18th July they had been given twenty-four hours to abandon the building that was their home and school. Moira Douglas, whose gay, caring and sensitive life ended with tragic suddenness on 3rd January 1967, wrote of those days

My brother and sister were packed off to friends in Co. Armagh, leaving me behind to help to tear apart our home with no immediate prospect of putting it together again. Middle House was evacuated within twenty-four hours, since the R.A. officers had chosen it for their quarters. We camped at the Cottage from where rescue operations were directed. It took weeks to clear the school. Each day saw a long trail of army trucks roaring down the big drive, loaded high with desks, chairs, beds, crockery, and saucepans heading for one of the many impromptu storehouses which had magically opened their doors to help. The Army helped too when they saw this was the quickest way to get us out. I can remember long weary days spent packing china in that strange dark cupboard which stretches way back under the back stairs.

Sylvia E. Jess records similar memories

As a Senior girl I helped for days with the sad sudden process. The enormous task had at times its funnier side, and it certainly was a new experience for young Quakeresses to spend hours working side by side with the Army helping to disembowel our school. I remember being up in the Senior Boys' Dormitory with Miss Thomas (Matron) and a very young Miss Young, when every iron bedstead was down and all that remained was a pile of mattresses on the floor awaiting army transport. . . . However, we revelled in the trips in the back of the army lorries all around the town, depositing our stocks and stores. I remember Arthur Mail standing with us hanging on in the back of the army lorry stuck amidst the chairs, desks, mattresses and bedding as the army drivers endeavoured for maybe the tenth time that day to turn into the hopelessly small entrance to the store behind Lisnagarvey House from the Belsize Road.

The Lisburn Standard kept at bay some of the rumours that began to circulate-the governors had offered the school to the army, they were closing the school altogether, and so on. At the end of August this paragraph appeared

Plans are being pushed forward for the re-opening of the school for day pupils early in September, in the Friends Meeting House, and other premises near by. The Governors hoped it would have been possible to announce this week that a suitable house in the district had been acquired as a hall of residence, but unexpected delays have arisen. Fresh efforts are now being made in other directions and it is expected that it will be possible to communicate detailed plans to the parents shortly.

The school office is being moved to 23 Railway Street, Lisburn, where after 19th instant, information can be obtained and interviews arranged with the Headmaster.

And to the astonishment of many, at the end of the first week in September, this notice appeared in the same paper

SEPTEMBER 10th AT 9.30 A.M.

Kindergarten and Form I will meet at Prospect Cottage, Fort Hill.

Boarders should return Monday evening before 7.0 p.m. Several vacancies exist for Boy and Girl Boarders at Halls of Residence, Larkfield and Ardfallen. Prospectus from Headmaster.

The Headmaster will be present at 23 Railway Street to interview parents on Friday, September 6th from 11.0 a.m. to 12.30 and from 4.0 to 6.0 p.m. Other times by appointment. Telephone Lisburn 3119.

That these arrangements had been made within six weeks seems scarcely credible and no praise is too high for the faith of Governors and Staff. It is true that it was above all the faith and vision of John and Norah Douglas that brought the school through ; they were at the helm, so that the day-to-day details with all their accompanying disappointments and harassments fell on them. Even so, it was the united conviction of the Committee and Staff that showed Quakers and parents that there was never any thought of abandoning the school. So great is the debt owed by all those who have benefited from lessons on Prospect Hill that it seems only fitting to record their name here

Chairman Ronald Barritt
Treasurers Aubrey A. Harding
  Robert R. Green
Nominated by Lisburn Monthly Meeting
  R. Edith Swain
  Leonard G. Green
  A. Maud M. Atkinson
  Robert R. Green
  Sylvia Green
  Anna Shaw
  Ronald Barritt
  Aubrey A. Harding
  Edith M. Greeves
  F. Lucius O'Brien
  C. Walpole Marsh
  F. Emily Silcock
By Lurgan Monthly Meeting
  Marion J. Greeves
  Ethel C. Green
  Francis M. Johnson
  Mary Barcroft
  Alexander R. W. Richardson
By Grange and Richhill Monthly Meeting
  Charlotte G. Lamb
  William Frederick Hobson
  Joseph E. Allen
  Dorothy M. Sinton
  Charlotte W. Peile
  John M. Donagh
By Lisburn and Belfast Regional Committee
  James Shortt
Headmaster John M. Douglas, M.A.
Senior Mistress Norah Douglas, B.A.
Chemistry and Nature Study J. Arnold Benington, B.SC.
Junior School and Kindergarten Dorothy E. Jacob, N.F.U.
Geography  Douglas A. Hill, B.SC.
English Matilda S. Simpson, B.A.
Mathematics Arthur Mail, B.A.
Music Florence Halton, L.R.A.M.
French Donald Rigg, B.A.
Music and Drawing May Rose Whitby, L.R.A.M., N.S.A.M.
Latin Kathleen W. Young, B.A.
Part-time Teachers  
Drawing Margaret G. Erskine, A.T.C.
Speech Training Betty Lorimer, L.R.A.M., L.G.S.M.
Domestic Science Frances G. Porteous, Dip. with Dist.
Physical Training Mona I. Baird, First Class Diploma
Matron Gladys Thomas
Assistant Matron Joan M. Tate
Housekeeper Rosemary Kerr
Trained Cook Elizabeth R. Hill

The Douglas's were allowed extra petrol for their old Lanchester and spent their time scurrying to and fro between the Forthill Cottage, the Railway Street Meeting House and Larkfield. Although the Head's garden was not used by the army it could not be used much by the Head either : he simply had not the time. In October the Lisburn Standard carried this paragraph

Lark field House effort for Red Cross Fund

A garden fete in aid of the Red Cross Fund was held on Wednesday afternoon in the gardens of Larkfield, Black's Road, Dunmurry, the residence of Mrs. McCance Blizard. This fine house and grounds has recently been acquired by the Friends' School, Lisburn, as a residence for boarders. The gardens were seen in all their glory and the many flowering plants came in for much admiration. Visitors had the opportunity of strolling through the grounds and enjoying tea in a charming cottage built amid delightful surroundings. From the windows a delightful view of the gardens is obtained. . . . Mrs. Blizard in her capacity as hostess was assisted by Mr. C. D. Coates, and Mrs. John Paul was helpful at the receipt of custom.

True, the plans had been made before there was any thought of Friends' School using Larkfield, but John and Norah Douglas were glad to have scholars helping and to let it be seen that Quaker values and Quaker schooling were still very much alive.

To the scholars the new fragmented arrangements were a mixture of excitement and annoyance. The senior girls and most of the resident staff were with Norah Douglas in Ardfallen, while John Douglas had all the boys, the junior girls and various staff at Larkfield. They shared the occupation with Mrs. Blizard, the owner, who insisted on staying. Some of her idiosyncrasies went ill with boarding school life. She seemed, for example, to spend a great deal of time moving her furniture round, usually in the evenings and occasionally in the middle of the night. Old and a little frightening to some boarders, she walked with the aid of a stick which tapped like that of Blind Pew. One summer week-end when the girls had been allowed to sunbathe, she came excitedly out of her room complaining in her high voice about all the shameless young girls in their bathing suits. But now in later life the married women who were in those days the young girls being upbraided, recount the memory with a sense of surprise that the good Mrs. Blizard should ever have been willing to take in a school at all ; and they recall their own efforts as senior girls to help the staff to look after `the family'. It was difficult enough, and during Prep. when the teaching staff had their evening meal, the senior girls maintained order unaided.

It did not take long to establish a routine of meals and bedtimes for all boarders, though the Larkfield organisation was complicated by the need to fit in with bus times. Moira Douglas remembered how the Larkfield housekeeper, Lolly Kerr, would waken the whole place every morning with her clarion `Ter . . ees . a. . . . Ter ... EEE ... SA !' towards the attics where the maids slept. She recalled too the difficulties of feeding boarders from two establishments in the days of rationing : `Lunchtime called for huge mugs of steaming hot soup and great piles of sandwiches, taken standing in the hall at the Meeting House. My school scarf had permanently grease-sodden fringes from where they had fallen into the soup during these lunchtime picnics'. A hot meal was served at both boarding houses when pupils got back from afternoon school.

And, again from Moira's journalistic pen

Meanwhile up at Ardfallen the dining room table was definitely not school property, since I remember the care with which we had to lay the heavy green felt over it before starting on prep. Also the panic when we spilled ink over both it and the carpet. The only male inhabitants at Ardfallen were my brother and our dog, Bran, of immortal memory. He, too, suffered from that Larkfield year, since all plans for his training went out of the window. `If we have a dog, it must sleep in the shed in the garden ; no dogs inside the school', was my father's stern comment when the puppy first came. Unfortunately, the Colonel who moved into Middle House objected to Bran's barking in the garden shed (for some reason, we were able to keep and use the school garden all through that year, using the back entrance from Fort Hill). Bran was transferred to Ardfallen to escape the Colonel's wrath, and the despatch riders' motorcycle which he pursued enthusiastically. Here, he became a real watch dog, only waking at night to add his warning howl to the wail of the air-raid sirens.

Somehow, the routine of lessons went on. Each day began with assembly in the large Meeting House on Railway Street. Then, whatever the weather, there was the trekking from class, perhaps next door, or upstairs, or several streets away. On the whole the pupils quite enjoyed this movement, while the staff endured it with a kind of stoical energy. The flavour of those days was unique -unforgettable to those who lived them, uncommunicable to others. Sylvia E. Jess writes

Twice during the summer of that year a group of senior girls headed by none other than Miss Thomas (matron) were entertained in the Sergeants' Mess, the old Domestic Science kitchen (Room D). `Tommy' and the very tough Welsh Sergeant-Major got on famously and formed at least a temporary friendship. Our strangest experience was the invitation by the officers to be entertained in their Mess and to attend a Troop Concert in the Old Gym. I have performed on that stage at all ages ; I have been part of a captive audience on many occasions within those four walls, but never shall I forget the scene that night. As we Friends School ladies, Miss Thomas, Miss Betty Hill, Miss Rowan (all domestic staff), Moira, myself and a few others walked in as guests of the officers, the sea of khaki-clad figures rose to attention ; at aged sixteen we felt we had arrived, but couldn't quite grasp what had happened to our school. It's a wonder the roof stayed on during the acclamation granted by those battle-ready men to their entertainers - I believe I still have a programme somewhere of the concert with the unit's badge or coat of arms on the front.

A couple of times a week during that year, we left our classrooms in the town and plodded up through the lines of army lorries on both sides of both drives and down the lane to use the hockey fields with Miss Baird, our games mistress. In the summer term I think we also used the tennis courts and swimming bath, and certainly we held our sports on the school field.

There were other surprising and pleasant things. J. Arnold Benington, for example, struck up a life-long friendship with R.A.M.C. Corporal Jeffery, a keen ornithologist.

Return to Prospect Hill

By the turn of the year, however, it was clear that it was not only the school that complained about the army occupation. There were no patients at all for this newly-established military hospital. Indeed, during the whole year of army tenancy the building had only one patient and he was a man suffering from measles. As it happened, he was an Old Scholar of the school who was not unnaturally highly dissatisfied that he was in a make-shift hospital better known to him as his school of long ago. In these circumstances, many of the public and no doubt privately some of the army came to think that the occupation did not bring much credit to anyone. Early in 1941 the Governors prepared a statement for Ulster Quarterly Meeting. Part of it ran

. . . it is clear that the Governors not only did not give their consent, but were in no way consulted. The buildings were requisitioned legally, by a competent authority, and the Governors having no desire to claim specially favoured treatment, did not attempt to make any public protest.

None the less, the requisitioning order has caused a loss of about 1,00 a year, and this loss seems likely to increase rather than decrease next year. Against this loss, we have no legal redress. Therefore we are bound to question whether the use made of our premises by the military justifies their retention. The building was taken for a hospital, but we have been informed that a higher military authority subsequently condemned the site as unsuitable for a large hospital. In practice the building has been chiefly used as a barracks for the personnel of a field ambulance. A few beds have been installed since the new year for light cases.

Under these circumstances we have petitioned the local military authority to vacate our building, but this has been refused. It is now our intention to pursue the matter further, and continue to press both the Ministry of Education and the higher military authorities for the return of our premises. We believe it wrong that children should be sent into unsuitable buildings, merely to make billets for soldiers. We believe it unjust that a school should be crippled financially, and possibly closed down, when the public emergency does not demand it. We ask, therefore, that our premises should be given back to us this summer, on the grounds that the field ambulance could be billeted elsewhere. But if this is not possible, and the building is of such great value to the military, we ask that adequate compensation should be given, as the rent based on rateable valuation alone barely pays for alternative premises much inferior for school purposes, and leaves us with other losses which we have no way of meeting without injury to an institution which serves the community and is not run for private profit.

It was a just case, clearly stated and with moderation. Discussions went on between the school and the authorities, the military and the educational powers, and between Ulster citizens, some in important positions, many just ordinary people getting on with their work. The result was that one year after occupying the school, the Army left it for Larkfield, of all places, where they turned out the long-suffering and much-tried Mrs. Blizard and littered her splendid garden with Nissen huts. (Soon after the war was over the old house was pulled down to make way for a large modern school, Larkfield Secondary School, surrounded by a new housing estate.) So once again the Douglas family lost their summer holiday, though the removal-inreverse was very much more welcome than the original move out. For John and Norah Douglas it had been a kind of nightmare. In later years, he, in particular, made light of it.

"We can be sure of one thing", he would say ; "beer went out of the school soon after Father Matthew started his temperance work in Cork : it did not come back until the Army took over in 1940". But he kept among his papers a number of interesting mementoes
his own pass, CP 1440, issued by Lieut.-Col. J. B. Smyth of the R.A.M.C. to admit the school's headmaster into the grounds and buildings ; a Christmas card from the 206th Field Ambulance ; and a directive signed by a different Lieut.-Colonel reserving the tennis courts at certain times "exclusively for the school".

On 14th August 1941 the following letter, signed by Ronald Barritt, Chairman of the Board of Governors and John M. Douglas, Headmaster, went out to Friends

You will be interested to learn that our school building has now been handed back to us to be used for its proper purpose. It has already been disinfected by the Local Authority, and the work of cleaning and painting from top to bottom is being carried out. We still hope to be ready to re-open early in September, and will let you know the exact date in good time.

We have greatly appreciated the loyalty and trust which parents have shown in us during the time of difficulty. It has also been a pleasure to see how many of our pupils have risen to the occasion, and shown real development of character by carrying through, in unfamiliar surroundings, not only their usual studies, music, and games, but also A.R.P. duties and food production.

The Headmaster and Staff had much to contend with during the enforced absence from the school premises, and it was feared this might have an adverse effect on the standard of school work. We are therefore pleased with the good results in the examinations of the Associated Board and also the Senior Certificates. In the Junior Certificate, while one or two have done brilliantly, the general result is disappointing, but we look forward with confidence to achieving greater success with the educational facilities and more favourable environment provided at Prospect Hill.

The school office will remain at 23 Railway Street (phone 2156) until the end of August, and the Headmaster and Mrs. Douglas will still be in residence at Ardfallen, Fort Hill (phone 3119). They will be pleased to discuss the progress and prospects of present and future pupils with parents. But as the transfer, redecorating, and refurnishing of the school involve endless work and unexpected movements, it is advisable to arrange interviews with the Headmaster in advance - if phone 2156 is unanswered, please try number 3119.

The air-shelter has been much improved, and further strengthening is being considered, with the advice of the Ministry of Education.

Although costs have arisen in many directions, we hope to go through this coming school year without asking any increase in fees.

The requisitioning of our premises has caused heavy loss and extra expenditure. Now that we are re-entering our building, we need new pupils to restore our usefulness and prosperity. Our best advertisement comes from successful pupils and satisfied parents. We would appreciate your kindness in putting us in touch with parents who would value the education provided at Prospect Hill.

A Protest

So the school resumed its routine, in as far as school routine was possible in war time. And it continued until 1945 with only one serious difficulty. The trouble rose out of the Quaker Peace Testimony. Friends have long held a Testimony Against War which has
led many of them to refuse to serve in the Armed Services. And when on Sunday 16th May 1943 the Allies bombed the Mohne, Eder and Sorpe Dams, some of the Staff at the school, feeling that allied strategy was increasingly causing suffering to civilians, wrote the following letter which appeared in the Northern Whig for Monday 24th May 1943.

We have read with disappointment and distress the account in The Northern Whig of the carefully prepared and skilfully executed destruction of dams in the Ruhr district by the R.A.F. Surely such an act means that many civilians, including women and children, will have been drowned or rendered homeless ? We would suggest that this does not fit in with the original aim of the British Government to break the power of the Nazis, but at the same time encourage the German people to overthrow the Nazis, and so to play a useful part again in the life of Europe.

On the contrary we feel certain that this act will be represented in Germany as one of deliberate cruelty to the German people, and will be used to goad them to a prolonged resistance.

Yours, etc.,

Dorothy E. Clay, K. W. Young, Gerald A. J. Hodgett, Kenneth Clay, Donald Smeltzer, F. Smeltzer, A. R. Whitley, Rosemary Kerr, Cecil F. Pritchard, Denis P. Barritt.
6, Magheralave Road, Lisburn.

The following day saw the first of a large number of indignant letters in reply. It was easy, someone pointed out, to write this from "a sheltered existence . . ." He, for his part, "cannot feel the slightest pang of conscience for any scion of the German race". Drowning women and children, claimed another, "must always accrue from total war . . . and to suggest that the power-houses of the enemy should be left unhindered because of their close proximity to human life is to put forward the unreasonable". None of the signatories, surely, were Lisburn born for "I do not believe any Lisburn man or woman would wish to sully the name of his or her old town in this manner". Another correspondent is "afraid our Friends of the Magheralave Road, Lisburn have not heard of the bombing of Rotterdam ... Coventry ... Plymouth . . ." A day later, seven married women wrote to say that "they read with delight of how the R.A.F. bombed the German dams . . ." but with "great disappointment the letter from ten persons belonging to Lisburn, Co. Antrim". "Peace Lover" found the letter `pitiable reading ... just that sort of soppy, sickly sentimentality that was partly responsible for our unpreparedness for war". By now, the signatories had been widely identified with the school.

Only one of them, it appeared, "had any claim to the town's good old name". The fourteen replies grew increasingly emotional, until the Editor mercifully brought the correspondence to a close with the note : `Owing to pressure on space it has been possible to give only 130
a selection of the many letters received. All of them, it may be added, are in opposition to the sentiment of the letter from ten Lisburn signatories'.

The school could have done without all this unfavourable publicity. Some members of Ulster Quarterly Meeting fully shared the views of the indignant Northern Whig correspondents so that John Douglas was thought to have much to answer for. Although he did not "sign the letter, he had been shown it while he was working in the Head's garden (which then occupied the site of the three hard tennis courts near Radley House). Many years afterwards Norah said that he seemed uneasy about it later in the day, but only understood after its publication that it should not have been sent from the school's address. Once the row had broken out the only thing was to ride the storm as unobtrusively as possible. In doing so, John Douglas was reasonably successful. Some of the school's suppliers were awkward and there was a small amount of damage to school property, but, following the Head's careful memorandum to staff asking them to air their political and religious views privately without in any way involving the institution they worked for, the place was left to get on with its work of teaching the pupils in its care. Time passed and Ulster Quarterly Meeting occupied itself with other matters.

The End o f the War

The final years were much as in other schools with the poignant losses felt even by the very young, and the gathering inevitability of a German defeat. A chess club appeared and the literary society positively flourished as Mrs. Stretch enthused pupils into all kinds of dramatic activity. It was not a time for re-building, though the Library was tidied and a door made to connect the Old Gym, as we came to call it, with the Old Physics lab. which remained a dark, small and dingy hole, until the end of its career. Lab. was it called ? Well, it had a partly functioning sink in one corner ; yet it produced good physicists, Lawrence Jess and Herbert Martin among them. The pupils were like all pupils, more aware of school than war, and the mild scarlet fever epidemic of Spring 1944 which caused the Easter holiday to start a week early was deemed by many to have its compensations, even to the seven left behind.
School life as the war ended in the following year was well described in the 1945 magazine

The war brought one last surprise to Prospect Hill. This summer we had lent our sports field to an army unit, and behold, one fine morning, a squad of German prisoners were draining in the far ditch where many a good cricket ball had gone never to return.

Lisburn has only removed its barricades, including the fine obstacle on the hill which was so hard to pass on a dark night, but the air-raid shelters seem to be lingering longer here than elsewhere. One of the shelters at the school now holds empty trunks, and another has been enlightened by three windows and a stove, for use as a workshop when timber is available once again.

Then there was the plan to widen the Magheralave Road, which had been little more than a country lane until the 1930's. The Governors saved the trees on the far side of today's road, which used to be part of the school's grounds. "Some of these trees were planted by our boys before 1880, when the road was laid out and the bridge built over the railway. Edmund Allen, still living at Portadown, is believed to have planted some of them. Before that time, the `wee drive' extended down the hill to a level crossing over the railway, beside which stood the School Gate Lodge, not far from where George Henderson lives now". These words, again from the 1945 magazine (`Odd notes on Prospect Hill'), are clearly from the pen of John Douglas. They indicate the kind and the quality of school history we would have had from him if only he had lived to write it. He was, as Norah once admitted, too tired during his last two or three years to tackle such a large undertaking. We may properly add what she may have thought but did not say : that he had drained his energy in the service of `the family' on Prospect Hill. It is our great loss that at his death so much vivid and lovingly garnered memory was only partially recorded.

The 1947 Education Act and After

Next summer, the school bought a tractor, hay-lifter and mower for the field. It was kept in the garage on the boys' asphalt and pupils often rode on it ; then came the prolonged severe frost and snow of early 1947. Early summer was much better though not as splendidly hot as the 1948 summer.

Meanwhile, in the mysterious world of `education' of which the school was somehow part, events were taking a decisive turn. `Across the water' the English government had already passed the 1944 Act which established a qualifying, eleven-plus examination so that able boys and girls, even if they came from families short of money, could win scholarships to Grammar Schools, while those who did not go to Grammar Schools went to Secondary Schools which were apparently different. Three years later, the Northern Ireland Parliament passed its own very similar 1947 Act. Its immediate result was to oblige the Province's Grammar Schools to consider their status. To which category, independent, voluntary-aided or Local Authority controlled, did they aspire ? Governors considered the matter and referred it to Quarterly Meeting which decided to continue its control under the voluntary-aided scheme.

It was a crucial decision and one which determined the future direction of the school in a way not clearly foreseen by the Governors and Quarterly Meeting, Once this direction had been taken, the great increase in numbers of day-scholars and the growing reliance on public money were inevitable. The same Annual Report (1948) which records the acceptance of the school's status under the 1947 Act, also says :

It will be seen by the increase in our numbers to 352 that the school has more than trebled its size since John and Norah Douglas took up their duties in 1929.

Two years later we read

Friends will notice that the numbers on our roll show a further increase [to 423]. Our headmaster has informed us that the classes, as at present constituted, are practically full, and that our buildings are utilised to capacity. We think, therefore, that growth in numbers has almost reached its limit.

Within fifteen years, they had doubled again to well over 800.

John and Norah Douglas were never happy about this great expansion which began in their time at the school. John's views were those of the great Thring of Uppingham : "A Headmaster is only the Headmaster of the boys he knows. If he does not know the boys, the master who does is their Headmaster - and his also".

All this meant more teaching staff.

The new Education Act [reads the 1949 Report] has brought close contact with County Education Committees and Directors; and has necessitated the employment of a typist to help the Secretary.

It meant, too, building extension. In 1947 Messrs. G. P. and R. H. Bell and R. F. Malcolmson, a Quaker firm, were appointed architects to the school. They were to have much to do, and to be concerned in frequent and long delays in the planning and building stages. Their first task (1945) was to enlarge the kitchen to the size it kept throughout the 1950's and 60's, and soon they were planning the first-storey block over classrooms C, D and E, though this was not completed until 1958.

The Kindergarten and Preparatory Departments, teaching children of an age for which the school had always catered, were also supported under the voluntary-aided scheme, and, squeezed out by the growing numbers in the 11-18 school, were in urgent need of bigger and better accommodation. Fortunately, Thornhill (known to us as Prospect House) came on the market at the time, and was bought by farsighted Governors to whom the very large numbers of junior school pupils since that date owe a very considerable debt. John Douglas greeted its purchase with a typical article in the School Magazine

The Friends School has been in existence 174 years, and this is the first time that its Governors have bought a house. Such an unusual event deserves a little splash.

We do not know its exact age ; but once the buildings were mentioned in a lease granted by Lord Hertford in 1848 to John Pennington. After his death in 1874, his son sold it to Alexander Boyd, grocer, who left it in 1880 to his sister, Jane Allister.

In 1901 it passed by sale from James Allister to Robert Griffith, who in turn sold it to J. D. Martin in 1918.
For many years it has been called Thornhill. But on the earliest maps it is clearly named Prospect Cottage. Surely this was a mistake on the part of the map makers. `No rose without a thorn' runs the proverb ; but we do not want thorns in a kindergarten, so we call it once again by the old name Prospect Hill. Over the railway with its smoke and engines, very useful for bringing young folk to school, can be seen not only the chimneys and spires of Lisburn, but also the tree tops and scurrying clouds, blue sky or stars, So also, beyond the noise and laughter, blackboards and waste paper and milk bottles of a preparatory school, we can see, in prospect, lots of children growing up healthy and wise ; future citizens of their country ; ready to seek and do the will of God. Prospect House is no bad name for a school.

Again, the spirit of John Douglas shines through the words - fascinated by the past, original to the point of quirkiness in outlook and expression, and always hopeful and forward-looking. And it is pleasant to remember that long after the Under 11's had moved themselves down to their handsome new building and garden, the room they once occupied in `Big School' kept its name OK (old kindergarten). There were many scholars, day and boarding, who referred to it for the next twenty or so years in this way without knowing why.

After the Education Act of 1947, Voluntary Schools could register under either group A or group B. The chief difference was that, in return for minimal consultation with the Province's Education Ministry at Stormont, group A schools received 65% grant aid with capital expenditure. Group B schools received no such help. Understandably, for a school that had been independent for over 150 years, it went against the grain to come, however lightly, under the government's wing. After much discussion Governors recommended to the Quarterly Meeting in 1951 that the school become group B rather than group A. It was not for long, however. It was difficult enough finding money for the Boarding repairs and modernisation, never mind for the day school. In 1951, for example, the year before John Douglas retired, extensive dry rot was discovered under the boys' washroom and in one of the dormitories. It cost 1,200 to eradicate. And at the same time Ardfallen, the home of Arthur Pim and his daughter, Winifred Graham, became available for purchase. Though uncertain as to its ultimate use, Governors very wisely bought it. So it is not surprising that the 1954 Report begins in this way

After long and careful consideration of the urgent and immediate needs of the School and of its future and long-term development, the Board was unanimously of the opinion that we could not meet these needs as long as we remained in the B scheme. Accordingly, we asked the Quarterly Meeting in June to sanction our application to the Ministry of Education for transfer to the 134

A scheme. The Quarterly Meeting accepted our recommendation : the Ministry granted our request to be transferred, and the changeover took effect from August 1st .1954.

The steady progress towards Grammar School status, for that is what it was, in some ways dismayed the Douglases. They were at their best in a small school, they had virtually saved this school from failure twenty years ago, and now, just before and increasingly after their retirement, here it was growing more and more unwieldy and serving ends they could not altogether approve. They began to wonder if it could become a small school for handicapped children. But it was too late. The examination pressures increased, and Friends' alongside Wallace High was now accepted as one of Lisburn's two Grammar Schools. The Local Education Authorities now paid tuition fees for those who passed the Qualifying Test at 11-plus, though for the time being it remained possible for many who failed it to come as fee-payers. For older pupils too, examinations mattered more. The Senior Certificate, still a six-year course with one further year added for those who wished to qualify for University entrance, was fast becoming a yard-stick by which to measure schools. In 1949 it was attempted by twenty pupils of whom thirteen succeeded. These numbers were to be eclipsed in just over a decade.

Fundamental as these changes were, the scholars were unaware of them, immersed in the usual routine of any school. They began their day with Assembly, of which there were now three, one in the old gym, one for kindergarten and one for prep. Then there were lessons (even on Saturday mornings in John Douglas' time), games and the many societies boarding schools especially need. The House Plays date from 1951 and have remained a source of much excitement. The pupils are responsible for them, all staff help (even in lighting) being forbidden, and they are performed and judged on St. Patrick's Day. During the summer holidays in 1948 an innovation was the occupation of the building by the Queen's University Adult Education Department for a summer-school fortnight. Occasionally there were outstanding events affecting the scholars much more nearly. Such was the death of Bran in 1951. Cecil M. Johnson had given him to the Douglas's in 1939 and he had been part of the school ever since.

During his residence at Ardfallen (during the war), he acquired a great respect for Miss Gym Baird, with whom he used to patrol on war-time nights, valiantly driving away cats, rats, and hostile aeroplanes. This, combined with his military experience, convinced him that Physical Training was by far the most important subject in the school curriculum. He seldom missed a class ; but of course he did not have to find his togs or change in wintry weather. He also had a curiosity about religious education, which is hard to explain. When all his friends had disappeared into assembly he felt lonely and wanted to join the crowd ; and sometimes he did. Evening meeting on Sundays also attracted him and it was not his fault that the younger pupils attended to him, instead of the preacher. So he had to be shut up in Middle House to mind the fire on Sunday evenings.

John Douglas

It was in 1952 that John and Norah Douglas retired. `I felt', said his secretary, Miss Betty Smyth, who was to serve three further Headmasters until her retirement twenty-one years later, `as though the school had come to an end'. They had been in Lisburn twenty-three years. In their last year the school had a full government inspection whose conclusion was,

. . . there is an atmosphere of diligent and purposeful effort. The pupils are interested in their studies and anxious to benefit from them. Generally they are frank in manner and their relations with the members of staff are obviously satisfactory ... it is clear that the school is discharging a useful function in the community with great credit.

We are not far enough removed in time to assess in detail the Headship of John M. Douglas. He was essentially a believer in a small school community who never fully reconciled himself to the rapid growth of Friends'. He was not a teacher who followed examination syllabuses or vigorously spurred pupils on to learning. He did not, observed one of his scholars in later life, impart facts very clearly, allowing his knowledge of the subject to carry him into too long-winded and complicated dissertations. All his pupils knew the shape of his fingers for they were in constant use as he stood in front of a class. They acted as prodders of the unwary to reduce their area of concentration or as pointers at some inattentive `silly goose' in the back row. Regularly they were employed to comb his hair forward over his brow as he rambled on enthusiastically while he kept up a rhythmic swaying of his torso backwards and forwards to the great amusement of his pupils'.

He was always quietly unconventional. When he gardened, as he and Norah often did, he wore the oldest of clothes ; pupils would smile as he hurried up to the school phone from the bottom of Middle House garden, pausing to use the foot-scraper specially placed for him at the main front door. Once when he was taking Sunday evening service a kitten jumped unto his shoulder. He gave it an appreciative stroke and continued talking. His punishments were highly original. Erring pupils picked dandelions and other weeds. Some of them, ordered to saw logs, removed them from the pile already prepared and brought them back with much ado in his presence - he found out, commenting, `Very ingenious ; but please sign them next time'. He had a soft spot for the lively nuisances, sometimes supporting them before indignant teachers. It would be a mistake, though, to
suppose him lacking in that toughness which must be part of the 136
make-up of all successful headmasters. Not all Governors appreciated him : Norah, for example, never became Headmistress, though he would much have liked it ; and for all their generosity in the holidays to boarders with nowhere to go, there was a' continual fuss about the financial recompense for his boarding responsibility. He often made his point obliquely, though nonetheless tellingly. Once in a quarterly Meeting which was discussing the rightness or otherwise of opening the swings in Belfast Parks on Sundays he rose and said : `For over twenty years I worked hard in Friends' School every Sunday in term time and no-one here offered to do my work for me and prevent me from committing sin'. A number of Friends seemed to think this an odd irrelevance : the discussion was about swings, wasn't it ?

He attracted and held good staff, and to his time we owe Miss K.W. Young, Miss O. B. Tait, Mr. and Mrs. J. W. Shemeld, Miss M. J. Baird, Mr. and Mrs. F. G. Shier, Mr. W. Cordner, Mr. H. L. F. Simpson, Mr. H. J. Turtle, Miss N. Watters, Mr. R. A. Megraw, Miss Betty Smyth and Miss Maud Smyth. All these remained another decade or more after the Douglases left. They retired to Belfast where John died on 9th March 1966. Norah stayed on for a time but after Moira's tragic death soon after her marriage, went to Australia to be with her younger daughter, Margaret and her family. Anyone who saw Old Scholars with the Douglases in the 1960's, either in their own home or at the school on Old Scholars Day, felt one thing instinctively : like the Radleys before them, they were loved. Let us take leave of John Douglas by reflecting in his own quiet idiom that to be loved is not given to every Headmaster.

1774-1952: AN IMPRESSION

With the retirement of John and Norah Douglas in 1952 this account of Friends School, Lisburn ends, though the story has continued and will, it is to be hoped, go on doing so. It has brought us a long way from 1774, from the pre-French Revolution World of George III to the years after the Second World War. A few glimpses may help to show how far.

The best example of the school's swing from isolation to willing involvement in local affairs was Douglas Hill's work for the Land Utilisation Survey. His zeal and vision took him far beyond the classroom on Prospect Hill where he taught Geography, and in 1936 he led a team of field workers in mapping the Belfast area. By the summer of 1938 the six-inch field sheets had been coloured according to an agreed scheme of classification and the whole reduced to a one-inch scale. Douglas Hill was now Director of the Survey Team. At the end of the war he was awarded a Leverhulme Research Fellowship (1946-8) to release him temporarily from teaching. In December 1948 H.M. Stationery Office in Belfast issued "The Land of Ulster", the first of its Land Utilisation Survey Reports. Its six-inch field records were lettered and coloured by Friends School pupils, and since the work was widely circulated, it brought credit to the school as well to its gifted and determined originator. John Gough, one hopes, would have approved -certainly John Ward and Joseph Radley would have done.

So would they of the continuing activity of the Natural History Society, flourishing under J. Benington, son of the Charles Benington who had done so much in this sphere at the end of the nineteenth century. Moth-collecting and the observation of animal, bird, insect and plant life had been encouraged at the school uninterruptedly since at least 1870, but it was now done more systematically and could draw more on the increasing store of knowledge being everywhere accumulated. The official records of the N.H.S. date from 1911 and could well form the basis of an article on its varied and often exciting activity- expeditions to Lough Neagh and Rathlin Island, bird and badger locating, and sometimes lost boys, once with ten soldiers and a stretcher called out in search of `Snowball' Eakin, who was, as it happened, quietly eating his supper at the time in Larkfield.

Perhaps, however, nothing gives quite such a vivid idea of the change in school life on Prospect Hill as the games played there down the years. A school, John Douglas said towards the end of his 1938 broadcast "really belongs to the pupils, no matter what names appear in the title deeds and prospectus". Remembering this, we may think that the best way to consider pupils is in their leisure time, when they are doing what they want to do, not what their elders decree they must do. It is an exercise that John Douglas once gave himself, recording the result on tape in Middle House in 1964. What he said on that occasion can therefore still be heard. It is too long to quote here, but the following facts are taken from it, often without change in the wording. The humane, common-sense outlook and the gentle irony are all part of the way in which John Douglas looked on the school and his work in it.

It is only recently that games have had highly paid adult players with referees to control them, leagues to measure their success, and journalists to write about them. Before all that began, the nature of boys and girls was to play, even though theologians did not always think it a good thing. There used to be a well-known expression in Ulster : "Go and play yourselves", and the fact is that in the barbaric days before 1900 children were able to play games themselves without being told what to do by grown-up people. They played in the street, in the backyard, wherever they found any place to play : and that included Prospect Hill.

Right up to the First World War the games in Ulster Provincial School were recognisably those of its eighteenth century beginning. There was marbles, for instance. It required three little holes in the ground, two or three inches in diameter. It was a social game, two or four boys taking part. There would also be a dozen boys watching, cheering, shouting, booing and making the whole thing very noisy and enjoyable. Sometimes round about 1900 the noise was so great that it encouraged the Master on Duty to ring the bell and get the pupils in a little early. This helped to keep their language in decent bounds, because though it was a Quaker school, marbles, according to John Douglas, aroused `more bad language than any other game'. Why ? Where had they learned all these undesirable words ? Quite simply by listening to older people in other streets and in other games. Yet the words were rarely heard during the conkers season when marbles was not played at all. And marbles experts were by no means always good at conkers. Skill at this began with choosing a chestnut which looked soft but was hard. During chestnut time many boys would be seen in class with no lace in their shoes - it was resting quietly in its owner's pocket until required to earn its keep at the game. You could even play it if the Master went out of the room ; you jumped up quickly, fetched the conker out of your pocket and held it up, while the other boy in a kind of magic gesture made his chestnut hit yours in such a way as to break it. To break one chestnut counted one, to break another, two and so on. Boys watched each other to see that they did not cheat by putting on extra numbers which had not been gained. When a conker had reached six it would begin to show signs of age and its owner would seek out a friend, see his old conker broken in a friendly battle, and then add the old six score to the new conker, making seven. It was in this way that the great scores were built up during the three-week season. Sometimes there were conkers with sixty-four or even seventy-two on them. Some of those big scores were true, but not all. Suspectedly false ones caused fierce arguments and even fights in the dormitory.

Spring was the time for kites. They were usually made with string and brown paper, flour and water paste, and two crossed sticks. Or there were tops -Peg Tops and Peery Tops (with a thin stand and large knobbly head). Or Hopscotch, like tops played by both boys and girls, but disapproved of by mothers because it wore out shoe leather so quickly. Or Stilts, made in the workshop, and leading to perilous races between the boys. Or, above all, Alley-ball. It was a version of the Handball played by men, but (according to John Douglas) originally a boys' game. It depended on having a flat wall with no windows in it and a fairly level yard for the ball to bounce on, there being few proper fives courts in Ireland. Only those with hard hands could play it, though girls sometimes tried it with a racquet. In 1900 it was played against the wall of the old gym, and there was room for three parallel games. Only one of the three courts had a corner in it. At one time one of the teachers was friendly with the local Police who played the game down at their barracks, and some matches were arranged between pupils and policemen. The school lost them, the long and strong adult arms being too much for those still developing.

Officially, there was no boxing. But there were fights, needless to say

A new boy came to school and for some reason he came late in the term, and in an unguarded moment the Headmaster told us interesting things about this boy who had, perhaps, been abroad or something, and we got the impression that he was a foreigner and would have to have his impudence taken down. When he arrived, a rather tough boy who lived in Ballymacarrett was deputed to challenge this new boy, over six inches taller, and the fight took place in the gym and somehow all the boys happened to be in the gym at that moment without organisation. The fight progressed for some time and both boys were reasonably capable. Then we saw the faces of two masters at the window of the Science classroom watching the fight, and after about ten minutes, as we thought, they meanly went and told the Headmaster who realised what trouble he would get into if it was known that the Friends' School had a proper stand-up fight. When the fight was over and we came to know the new boy, it turned out that he was the most Irish of us all. He came from the bogs of central Ireland, had been three months in an English school, and was brought home for some reason and sent to Lisburn. As for 'Da', the Headmaster, he came out to the great noise and most pugnaciously stopped it.

All this is not to deny that soon after 1900 the specialisation and intensity of twentieth century games were in some ways already appearing. Cricket is said to have been introduced in 1851, and croquet, tennis and girls' hockey were taken up about the end of the century. Hockey was no longer the `shinny' of the home-made sticks and home-made rules. It soon demanded the rigorous practice of basic skills and rehearsed moves ; the early cup-winning teams were successful partly because their training included long runs over Aughrim and Collin. So the school can fairly be said to have made its own contribution to the fiercely earnest and competitive world of sport which newspapers and television have now made such big business-by 1952 Brian Raphael, Billy Haughton and Stevie Johnson had all played hockey for Ireland, and `Herbie' Martin was soon to follow in cricket. Nevertheless, now that national crises can occur over a foot-fault or an off-side decision, so that even school games tend to imitate the professionals' excessive partisanship and determination to avoid defeat at all costs, it is good to reflect that the Old Scholars' Play Shed, given in 1957, is used in the main for spontaneous, voluntary play, and that such age-old games as Relieve-O and Tig still exist, if in slightly different guises and dignified by more modern names.

Do similar changes mark the instruction given in the classroom ? For to measure differences spanning 200 years in terms of games alone, gives a limited impression, and that perhaps in an area which to some people is unimportant. On the whole they do, since here again the picture is of over a century of little change, followed by changes of ever-increasing rapidity. Consider, for instance, the organisation and methods of Mountmellick School in 1796, to which John Douglas drew attention in one of his tape-recordings. The Superintendent is reporting to the Committee, and in so doing speaks not only for Quaker schools but for most schools of the time

The children are divided into three classes ; the first comprises the best readers, the second the next best, and the third those beginning to read. Each class is of both sexes. A lesson is read to every class and to prevent any idea of one sex being preferred to the other, the males read first one day and the females the next, and so alternately. The different sexes though of the one class do not read together, but each in succession. By this arrangement the worst readers of the different classes have sufficient opportunity, if they will make use of it, to get the lesson while the best are reading, and thereby be sooner ready to go to write and cipher. Attention is paid to each individual at both these exercises. . . . Spelling individually is the first daily business of the school. Those who think they have it come up and are heard first, without distinction of age or sex. The words each misses are marked in the spelling book and a register kept of them to prevent evasions. The missed words they had to get are spelt with the ensuing morning lesson, and on seventh day [Saturday) evening before they are allowed to play, they must spell out all the words missed through the week or be debarred of play for that evening.... All the girls, except one apprentice, attend in the boys' schoolroom from rising to dinner, and are exercised in the same manner as the boys, except on the washing day, once in the week ; the girls not employed at it attend in the boys' schoolroom.

To our ears, accustomed as they are to hearing of "structuring meaningful patterns for the enablement of self-enlightment in the classroom situation" (and all the rest of it), this appears a very naive approach to the complicated process of learning to read: quite young pupils are classified into those who can and those who can't, are made to learn by rote and are punished if they fail. Primary Schools, including Prospect House, are different today ; a glance at the equipment and wall displays of their classrooms will show how learning and playing now go hand in hand.

As for the main school, where pupils stayed on until eighteen or nineteen instead of leaving at fourteen or earlier, things are so different that comparison between then and now is hardly possible. Even in the short time since 1952 the changes have gone on implacably. `The New Look' fashion of 1950, though it had no immediate effect on school uniform, heralded the much greater freedom to be claimed by the pupils of the following decades, when the old rigidities were everywhere under attack. Boys' hair grew long, jeans appeared on girls who were geologising or working with the Natural History Society, skirts became so brief as to be scarcely noticeable, an annual dance was held at the school, and weekly boarding (going home for week-ends) became much more popular. During summer holidays pupils twice drove Ambulances overland to India for use in hospitals there. All the time the links with the local Education Authorities and the concern with public examinations increased ; and, in response to the 1960 decision to double numbers by changing two-stream into four-stream entry, the building too doubled. First, the Manse was bought on Forthill and named Radley House. (It was to improve boarding accommodation, though for some five years it was used by the hard-pressed day school). The playing fields were re-drained and re-laid. Then the semi-circular hall, the gym and the new classroom block went up on the brae, followed by the building at the back of the school of Harding House (named after Aubrey A. Harding, School Treasurer for forty-two years). And in 1973, at long, long last, after years of planning and re-planning, the whole of the old school was demolished so that the boarding department could be re-built over modern classrooms. It had to happen in the end, and will no doubt be recorded in detail in a future history of the school. Here, it is enough to indicate some of the losses : the Dining Room, the Kitchen and Canteen, the old Chemistry Lab, the old Gym with the little classroom off it (LT), the Boys' Lower Dormitory with the Prefects' cubicles at the end, the Girls' Washroom, the Laundry, the Bathhouse, Surgery with Sick Bay above it, and the old Kindergarten. It will seem a dreary list to anyone who did not know them. To those whose home they once were, their mere naming will evoke a host of memories.

Is there, then, no common thread running through what is, after all, an ordinary, unexciting sort of story ? Has the link with John Hancock and John Gough become so frail as to be best forgotten ? Not quite. The school, particularly the small boarding school, is still a community whose purpose is quite simply to help the young to grow into balanced and fulfilled men and women. This is not an activity to be assessed and reported on annually at Speech Day that occasion is for polishing the school's public image. The real work is elsewhere - in working alongside young people, who are changing all the time as they grow older, and are entering into natural and helpful relations with each other and with those who teach and look after them. And if there is anything distinctive in a Quaker school, it should be just here. Quakers claim that `there is that of God in every man', in children no less than in grown men and women. It follows that in the matter of learning to live (as separate from learning facts and skills) teachers must learn from their pupils as well as teach them. While staff have to provide a firm framework so that learning and maturing may take place naturally, they work within it in partnership with the young, and in the knowledge that Abraham Lincoln's famous dictum is for old and young alike : `You cannot help men permanently by doing for them what they could and should do for themselves'.

W. B. Yeats once said that he distrusted the self-complacency of those whom Velasquez painted, preferring "the hungry medieval' speculation that had worn the faces painted by El Greco". Schools could well have that preference, too ; they should combine security and risk, youth and age, knowledge and experiment. Only so may wisdom -or religious truth, to use the language of our forefathers -be found. "Sapere Aude" was the splendid Horatian Motto of Hugh Oldham, Bishop of Exeter, who founded Manchester Grammar School - Dare to be wise ; take the risks and make the experiments without which there is no wisdom, only common sense. John Gough, writing in old age at his desk in the original school on Prospect Hill, had much the same thought. George Fox, he said towards the end of the Introduction to his `History of the People called Quakers', was endowed with a power not learned from any academic study or philosophical system, but from "the language of experience", from "an acquaintance with himself". Such self-knowledge, though it cannot be part of a syllabus, or measured, or perhaps even recognised, is the ultimate concern of human beings and therefore of schools, whether in 1774 or 1974. It is the link between us and our founders.

So we may in conclusion see again Bulmer Hobson, towards the end of Joseph Radley's long reign and in what must have seemed the hey-day of Empire and Victorian certainty, punished for an offence he did not commit. Well, it wasn't fair, thought the young boy, but it was school life ; he would have to bear it. `Bulmer', said the strict but just Charles Benington a day or so later, `I punished you unfairly. I am sorry'. As he re-lived the scene more than seventy years later, Bulmer's great white head shook gently and the unseeing eyes registered vividly the distant event. `Just think', he said, who was only a month from his own death, `Just think : that he should apologise to me, a mere slip of a lad !' His tone softened into a kind of wonderment. "Aye.... I can see it now . . ." a pause as he searched for the right words . . . "clearer than this room when I could see it.... You know, you learn things at school . . . things you never forget . . . ah, well ... it was like home on Prospect Hill. . . .".