|An old friend of mine recently produced a photograph taken outside the Technical College in about 1946. There were some signatures on the back including S.E. Silcock, W.Dodds, James Heaney, J.S. Waring, W.J. Dowling, P.Anderson, Henry McConnell, F.A.Mackinnon, Ronald Matier, ES. Hodge, A. McKelvey, Edward Moreland, Stanley Lindsay, Victor Chambers and J.C.McKeown. I would be interested to know if anyone can recognise any faces and provide names. There is no doubt the person to the extreme right- 2nd row from the front is the late Dr. Samuel Semple, MBE|
The Digger recalls the days when education was only for the privileged few and how the opening of an institute for 'technical instruction' in Sir Richard Wallace's old home in Castle Street in 1914 changed all that
AN advert placed in the Belfast Newsletter dated April 1810 sought a schoolmaster for the "Glenavy School." There was a stipulation that the individual would be well recommended as to morals, competent to teach Greek, Latin, English grammatically, writing and accounts." On the 22nd and 23rd June of that year pupils at the Lisburn English and Mercantile School sat their examinations in arithmetic, writing, English grammar, parsing, reading, spelling, book-keeping and Euclid's Elements. The results of the examinations were published a week later. The names of W. Whitla, J. Whitla, Edward Johnson (Ballymacash), T. Mussen (Hillhall), Eliza Dobbs and J. Richardson suggest the pupils were not from the lower classes in the district. The pupils who took their Christmas examinations at Crumlin Academy in 1816 were also children of wealthy parents. Amongst the local names associated with mill owners and local gentry, there were other pupils who were attracted from further afield - Robert and Joseph Andrews from Comber, Samuel Twigg from Dungannon, James Browne from Waringstown, John Henderson from Ballymena and George Mason from Dublin. A plethora of subjects were taught at Crumlin and included Greek, Latin French, elocution, Roman history, Grecian history and Christian morality and evidences. The pupil successes would smooth a path for a successful career.
The highlighting of successful pupils through their attainment in examinations was a well tried and tested method used to attract new pupils onto the roll book.
In September 1887, James Henry, the principal of Seymour Street National School in Lisburn, claimed that the annual examination was "just over" and "highly satisfactory." It was further claimed that "fees are moderate" and "pupils may enter at any date."
A.S. Mayes, the headmaster of Seymour Street School in April 1898, claimed that the District Inspector had said "a high standard of efficiency has been attained in all the classes. Several subjects not usual in primary schools have been taught..." Several of the more unusual subjects, Latin and French, came at a cost - 5 shillings each per quarter.
Specific institutes targeted the local populace in Lisburn who were seeking to pursue future employment with the Civil Service and banking institutions. They could attend Connell's Institute, 5 Royal Avenue in Belfast. In 1906 they had successes in examinations which it was claimed led to the securing of appointments within Customs, Excise, female clerks, bank, post office, surveyor of taxes and boy clerks. And if that wasn't enough to make you sign up for a Government post then the additional note in the advertisement may just have been the final persuader - "These Government positions have the advantage of short hours, light work, good salaries and substantial pensions."
Four years later, in 1910, a debate had started in the district regarding an offer to the people of Lisburn through the Urban District Council made by Sir John Murray Scott. A letter appeared in the local press stating that the people of Lisburn needed the Castle, as they were "sadly in want of a home for technical instruction."
This was a reference to Sir Richard Wallace's former residence in Castle Street, Lisburn. The Urban District Council did eventually purchase the property and it was opened in 1914 as a Technical Institute.
Mr Cecil Webb was the principal of the Institute. He also served as a secretary on the Institute's technical committee. J. Milne Barbour and Ezekiel Bullick were amongst other prominent local people who served on this committee for whom financial issues were a central role. It was reported in the 1920's that they had a policy of using the profits of one year to finance the development of the Institute in the following year. It proved to be a successful formula.
In June 1929 an exhibition was opened in the Institute by Miss Barbour, the daughter of J. Milne Barbour, who was the then Minister of Commerce for Northern Ireland. The work of the pupils was on display to the general public and provided an insight into the subject's they were studying for a career foundation.
Household crafts, cookery, needlework, dressmaking, typewriting, bookkeeping, penmanship drawing, cabinet making, mechanical engineering, building construction and carpentry were all on the syllabus. It was reported that in a short address, the principal Cecil Webb said there were between 1100 and 1200 students attending the school at that time.
In 1934 The County Antrim Committee of Agriculture was offering scholarships to local women and invited applications to enrol. Successful applicants would be entitled to free instruction, board and residence at the North West School, Strabane. The course which was due to commence on the 17th July of that year and finish on the 28th August. Instruction was to be given in poultry keeping, butter making, cookery, sewing and housewifery including sick nursing.
Those who chose not to attend technical college or a similar establishment may have been fortunate to attend other schools in the area after primary school.
Wallace High School was one of many establishments to further education. In October 1947 it was not located in Clonevin Park but at Antrim Road, Lisburn. The new school building at Clonevin Park was not opened until almost 31 years later, on 4th October, 1978. Some will recall 1947 as the year Mr. A. Martin commenced his teaching post at the school. His first association with Wallace was in 1928 when he attended as a pupil. He would become vice-principal of the school in 1970. The prize lists and years achievements relating to this school were proudly displayed in the local press and included the names of those who were awarded their Ministry of Education certificates in both Junior and Senior grades.
Those names included -
Senior Certificate - (girls) Margery Beatty, Leila Browne, Margaret Douglas, Patricia Duff, Margaret Duff, Sheila Duff, Betty Harvey, Stella Rea, and Mary Welsh; (boys) D.G. Allen, C.H. Balmer, G.S. Eccleston, S.W. Kennedy, J.D.C. McConnell, J.A. Malpas, R.E. Moore, J. Rutherford and R.S. Shepherd.
Junior Certificate - (girls) Elizabeth Allen, Iris Cregan, Elizabeth Fraser, Deirdre Grebbell, Jean Haire, Rita Jardine, Bessie Johnston, Marion Kane, Norma Lewis, Margaret McCourt, Lydia Mcllveen, Irene Rankin, Hilary Shiels, Inez Thompson, Bobbie Wadsworth and Audrey Wilson; (boys) T.I. Bunting, T.R. Close, V.H. Corrie, T.W. McCormick, H. Silcock, J.V. Smyth, W.M. Ward, W.J. Waring and G.A. White.
In April 1950 the "Technical Intermediate School, Lisburn" advertised a further education course commencing 28th August 1950, for girls of school leaving age - 14 years, who had completed the VII standard in the primary school or equivalent. Anyone wishing to enter the school that August for what was then known as day technical, day commercial or Further Education classes had to first take an entrance exam. There was an added stipulation that the successful candidates would have to remain in full time attendance for two years. The principal at that time was William J. Waring.
I was talking to a lady in the Fermanagh area recently who recalled attending Carrick Academy located at 39 Bow Street, Lisburn. It prepared pupils for civil service examinations and those seeking to work in similar professions. I wonder if there is anyone else reading this who can recall the Academy at Bow Street that regularly advertised locally - "Telephone 3111 - Education with an aim!"
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