Johnny Mullen wrote a short history of St Edwards
The text is from a 1964 magazine.
ST. EDWARD'S COLLEGE MAGAZINE 1964
Sandfield Park, 1938-64
By the time these lines are in print St. Edward's College will have completed twenty-five years in the Park. To the young mind that must seem quite
an age; to the not so young, just a step in the school's history.
From time to time the College Magazine has looked back down the years to log progress. In 1938 it was back to 1902 to record the Irish Christian
Brothers' resumption of academic life in the "old" Catholic Institute with Brothers’ Leahy, Ford, and Campbell,
taking charge of some forty pupils. The Old C.I. could then look back through an active life of sixty years. But that is another story.
In Autumn, 1952, was celebrated the school's Golden Jubilee. It was interesting to recall that among the many greetings received was this message
from Rome :—
Papal Blessing (Text of Telegram) Occasion
Golden Jubilee assuming direction Catholic Institute Liverpool. Holy Father lovingly imparts Christian Brothers, Students past and present,
families, paternal Apostolic Blessing.
(Signed) MONTINI (Substitute).
The "Substitute" is now His Holiness Paul VI now happily reigning.
The move from Everton to West Derby was carried out during the Summer holidays of 1938 — the year of Munich,
a year of anxious foreboding. From September to the following June was a period of settling in.
On June 15. 1939, all was ready for the ceremonial opening, all except the weather — most un-June like. Rain prevented an outdoor ceremony.
In an overcrowded assembly hall the Principal of the College, Rev. Bro. J. O. MacNamara, presided and welcomed His Grace, Archbishop R. Downey, D.D.,
Ph.D., LL.D., and numerous guests representative of the religious, civic, political, professional, business and social life of Liverpool.
The Headmaster, Rev. J. S. Roche, gave an account of his stewardship which carried through the move from St. Domingo Road to Sandfield Park.
Only those with experience of working in both localities can gratefully testify to the foresight, competence, courage and drive of Bro. Roche
and those with him most closely involved in the task of giving to a plan a beauty of form which can now be admired.
His Grace, the Archbishop, then blessed and declared the College opened. From an address of philosophic excellence and witty asides one may select :
The true function of education is the development of character and personality, and the vital question at the end of one's schooling is not “What do you know?”
but “What are you?” and again,
One prime function of education is to adjust the balance between the inferiority complex and self assertiveness so as to turn out a balanced
The time was very soon to come when such precepts would be put to the test — 1939-1945. The first eight months of World War II,
then known as the " Phoney phase ", saw the school divided, one half to remain in Liverpool, the others to be evacuated to Llanelly.
A general feeling of uncertainty and deep anxiety hovered over both places. By Easter, 1940, the school was once again united to face
a problematic future. The story of the school's finest achievement in those days is to be read on the Memorial Board in Bishop's Court,
the Old Boys' then (1938) newly acquired Association Headquarters and Club across the road from the College. Alongside that memorial stands
another preserving the memory of the great sacrifice of 1914-1918. Both now stand there mute witnesses of how well were interpreted the
older school motto "Semper fidelis" and the present " Viriliter Age ".
In 1944 the Butler Education Act gave statutory expression to a climate of change in the world of Education. In and
around Sandfield Park (and no doubt much further afield) concrete and glass symbols of that change are abundantly in
evidence. What of the change in the scholastic life of the school?
In C. I. days pupils annually submitted to the Oxford (our only link then with that historic seat of learning !) Prelim;
Junior and Senior Examinations with results published in the Liverpool Daily Post and Mercury. In St. Domingo and early
Sandfield Park days it was the School Cert, and Higher School Cert, which have now become the G.C.E. " O " and " A "
level — Kindly note the alphabetical age we have entered — and results declared at Speech Days. For candidates it may
be a case of " plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose", in other words " However different the name, the thing's the same ! "
Let us pause a moment to take stock of ground covered and yet to be completed. Statistics are sometimes cheerful things.
In 1902 the school roll mustered forty pupils. Sixty years later the roll has increased twenty-fold to over 800 pupils.
Add to that similar numbers in our associated Colleges in Crosby and Birkenhead and it will be realised that that was some
mustard seed in 1902 ! To house and feed mentally and bodily such a multitude would require a corresponding expansion of building
and staffing in the hope of an equivalent expansion of “Victories in class and field" for Old Boys to recall.
What now follows will try to show what has been accomplished by efficient planning at Head-
quarters capably supported by officers and other ranks in the school. Many changes of staff there have been:
Religious, in obedience to directives from Provincial Headquarters; lay staff, a less moveable (but not inert) body, due to age or the
promptings of ambition. One noticeable change in the traditional composition of the lay staff — Old Boys of the College and graduates
from across the Irish Sea or other territorial boundary — may be mentioned, a small group from West Park. St. Helens. They came, they
approved, they stayed and found that warm-hearted welcome that good-companionship rightly expects.
The decade between Golden Jubilee, 1952, and Diamond Jubilee, 1962, perhaps marks the period of more noticeable change in
the school's scholastic and social life The University expects to double its student population by 1970. Records of past
achievements give one confidence to hope that St. Edward's College will contribute its quota as in the past.
In 1908, when Liverpool University was a young foundation, C. I. pupils secured five out of the eight Scholarships (Senior City)
then available; Jerome and Dick Twomey, Frank Becan, Bob Halsall and W. H. Rowe, a promising beginning ! In those days entrance to
Liverpool University was by Scholarship or Matriculation via the Accounts Department! Oxford and Cambridge were outside the School's aims.
In School Notes of St. Edward's College Magazine Summer, 1952, one reads :—
"Congratulations are due to Edward Randall, who gained an Open Exhibition to Magdalen College, Oxford, in Science, and
James Jensen, who gained the Goldsmith English Literature Scholarship at Balliol College, Oxford, last March. These successes we
hope will be emulated by future candidates in the School." They were, as we shall see. Supporting this break-through to Oxford
were twelve other scholarships and twelve accepted for University places on " A" level results in G.C.E. 1953 and 1954 showed
an advance in number of awards. In 1955 an Open Scholarship in English to Christ College, Cambridge was awarded to Peter Anwyl
and an Open Scholarship in Modern Languages to Clare College, Cambridge to R. McDonnell, supported by fifteen scholarship awards
to Liverpool University.
From then on there has been a steady stream of Scholarship winners and entrants to University Degree Courses so that by 1963
the names of Edwardians are recorded in the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, London, Bristol, Birmingham, Staffordshire, Hull,
Leeds, Sheffield, Durham, Manchester, and Liverpool and across the border in Edinburgh, and across the sea in Dublin and Cork.
So much for the achievement ot co-operation between masters and pupils. One outside body deserves grateful mention — the Industrial
Fund for the Promotion of Scientific Education in Schools. In 1958 the good offices of Brigadier E. C. R. Stileman made available
financial aid sufficient to construct, overlooking the playing fields, a suite of lecture rooms, and laboratories for advanced studies
in Physics and Chemistry. In that year fifteen boys entered university.
Four years later school records reveal that Form Science Sixth alone twenty-three boys were accepted to study for degrees in science,
engineering, and related subjects. A sound investment that should continue to pay dividends.
Mens sana has been accounted for. Let us turn attention on Corpore Sano. An introductory observation may be permitted. Comparisons
may be odious but contrasts are helpful. The beauty of a gem is enhanced by its setting. A glance back to 1907 and 1937 will help one to
appreciate what now adorns Sandfield Park in 1964.
We are now (1907) back in Hope Street standing in the school yard, in area a shade bigger than the new College Dining Hall.
Facing you is the Brothers' residence; on your right the new manual room (an embryo Assembly Hall) and three new class-rooms;
on your left an enormously high windowless wall that to the young mind seemed to shut out his world. To the left of the Brothers'
residence new class-rooms were built on what was once the Conservatory into which on cold wet days would crowd a dozen or less boys
to take midday lunch from its paper wrapping ! Behind you four class-rooms above which was the Oratory of St. Philip Neri reached by
a dark winding staircase. Behind the Oratory a small yard leading to a physics lecture room with a chemistry laboratory above it.
The Soccer Ground was away out on the Wavertree " Mystery ".
Come now to St. Domingo Road, 1937. A fine old residence which in its youth looked out across pleasant country to Walton Hill and
its fine old church and beyond that to Ormskirk with Augton Church crowning the hill. In the 1930's that same residence commanded
a view of a tall chimney stack and a wilderness of slated roofs with their smoking chimney pots. And lunch - time amenities ? The
basement rooms and then out into a small playground with its exit gate to Beacon Lane. Sports days and Annual Staff versus School at
cricket and soccer on the thinly grassed plot edged by a cinder track in front of the House.
Move now to 1964 and take a seat in the new Dining Hall. From its gleaming kitchens a capable staff to serve lunch to some 400 youngsters
in half-an-hour; while lunching you can look through glass panelled walls across a lawn and spacious playgrounds to the tree encircled playing
fields. Alongside the gymnasium a covered full size swimming pool, 25 metres by 10 metres of white tiled pool, black striped down its length from
three foot six to ten foot six diving pool. What used to be a kitchen garden and plantation of trees and bushes is now a four-forty yard En Tout
Cas nine laned running track, with long jump, high jump and pole vaulting amentities. No longer now the knee length running pants, sleeveless vest
and running pumps, but shorts, striped coloured vests, spiked shoes and track suits! If " corpore sano " has not been attained, it is not for the
want of opportunity and all necessary equipment on the premises.
Some image has now been projected of what St. Edward's College has been and has now become. Tribute should now be paid to those who initiated
and carried through the transformation.
The initial stage, 1937-43, was clearly no easy one. One can imagine the difficulties to be found in what was soon to become bomb-scarred Liverpool.
Yet that stage was successfully accomplished by Bro. J. O. MacNamara and Bro. J. S. Roche.
Bro. M. C. Wall, 1943-1949, continued the task of guiding the College through the closing years of the war and the early and difficult
years of a restless peace. It is good to recall those days to a generation to whom such events are just History.
The years 1949-1955 covered the term of office as Headmaster of Bro. J. P. Hooper. As a young Brother he was with the School at Llanelly.
A long apprenticeship in the Moderns Sixths gave him a deep insight into the Sixth Form mind and an unfailing ability of getting the best
out of it. These two qualities, among others, helped him as Headmaster to lead the College into a decade of high achievement already reviewed.
His going, still a young man, was St Edward's loss but St. Brendan's gain for in Bristol during his term of office as Headmaster he did what
Bro. Roche did for St. Edward's.
He was followed by Bro. W. D. Foley, O.B.E., an old Edwardian of early vintage, just returned from Gibraltar. His work there was
officially recognised by an Honours List Award of the O.B.E. During his term of office, 1955-1961, he carried on from where his
predecessor left off. As an old Edwardian he naturally felt it his special task to foster further development. An administrator
of recognised ability, he would find a way of bringing to fruition plans already " Castles in the Air ", a task requiring every art
of diplomacy — a Parents' Association. In May, 1961, this was established, its object " to raise money to provide additional facilities ",
records the College Magazine, " and develop a social life among the parents ".
In September, 1961, Bro. P. T. Coffey succeeded Bro. Foley as Principal with Bro. Baylor as Headmaster. In September, 1962,
Bro. Baylor had been given charge of their School in Edinburgh and Bro. Coffey took over the Headship. That was Diamond Jubilee Year.
For many years Bro. Coffey had been in charge of Chemistry in the Science Sixth. During those years he was quietly revealing a concealed
genius for organising athletics. It was his zeal supported by that of Games Masters that has made St. Edward's Liverpool well known far afield
for " Victories in field " which the College can recall with pride. In 1964 some of those additional facilities referred to above — track, dining hall,
and swimming pool — have now materialised. And oh ! what a difference to the School! Grateful thanks to the Parents' Association was expressed
by Bro. Coffey in his Speech Day Report, 1963, for the £8,000 so far raised to redeem the debt on the swimming pool and he observed that "
at the present rate it looks as if the pool will be paid for in five years."
Education is an umbrella word that covers more activities than those of class-room, laboratory or playing field.
To complete our picture some credit must be given to Music, Art, Drama, and School Societies.
Who that was present at Speech Day, 1959, in the Philharmonic Hall could forget the choir's rendering of Borodin's
"Danse Polovtsienne" from " Prince Igor " ? Now music in St. Edward's College joins Science and Modern Studies in
having its representative, Peter O'Hagan, at Cambridge University. Perhaps the day is not far distant when some ex-Edwardian
will be studying at the London Slade School of Art.
A discriminating eye can see in all that the College has become, the finger of Divine Providence pointing the way and beckoning on.
Archbishop Heenan's appointing a chaplain to the school and the weekly Mass in the College Hall have been most welcome. Aspirants
to the priesthood and the religious life still follow the traditional example by-passing the more attractive glittering prizes in
other walks of life.
A final tribute of appreciation. Wherever Don Roche's green fingers have been at work beauty appears.
In Spring flower beds around the College a blaze of colour, in Summer a transformation, in Winter plants bedded waiting Spring's awaking.
Many young people now at St. Edward's College, D.V. in A.D. 2002 will celebrate the centenary. Meanwhile let the College be on its way with our heartfelt prayer.
Ad multos annos ! Floreat! !
J. F. Mullen.