Colonel J. Graeme Bryson wrote a Forty Year View of the History of St Edwards

The text is from a 1961-62 magazine.

St Edwards from above

ST. EDWARD'S COLLEGE MAGAZINE 1961-62 Forty Years On By Col. J. Graeme Bryson, O.B.E., T.D., L.L.M., J.P.

In the month of December, 1919, the students of the Archdiocesan Seminary left St. Edward's College, St. Domingo Road, for the last time, and walked to Upholland, where they completed their studies. In the same month, my father moved his family from Monmouthshire to Liverpool. His four sons were all to spend their schooldays in the buildings taken over from the seminarians by the Christian Brothers of the Catholic Institute, Hope Street.

I was sorry to miss schooling at the Catholic Institute. The school must have been very cramped in Hope Street, but the scholastic and sporting records were unique. The spirit and pride of the C.I. lasts to this day. Punishment, particularly from Br. Malone, was very severe, but no old pupil seems to bear the good man a grudge. My elder brothers John and Kenneth joined the school in 1920, and I joined them two years later. Now, a Governor of the School, and President of the C.I. Edwardian Association, I look back with pleasure, "forty years on," at those early days.

We travelled daily by tram, 5A (first class downstairs!) from Calderstones, and 25 from London Road. The journey took an hour, and school started at 9.10 a.m. The school buildings were behind an enormous wall in St. Domingo Road. The house was built by Mr. Sparling, Mayor of Liverpool 1790-91, and it was said to be the finest building in the town—indeed it bore a strong resemblance in size and design to the present Liverpool Town Hall, which had been built a few years earlier. After his death, his son William, a Lieutenant in the 10th Hussars, killed in a duel a local shipbuilder, Edward Grayson, in a field near the Dingle. He was acquitted of murder at Lancaster Assizes, but decided not to return to St. Domingo. After vicissitudes, the Catholic Authorities purchased the estate in 1842 for the education of Catholic youth, and renamed the house ' St. Edward's. " It later became the Archbishop's residence—until the Christian Brothers' arrival in 1920.

Br. Woodhouse was my first form master, a position he held, at intervals, twice later. At that time he was carefree, young, a great inspiration to us. As the years passed, he has become more serious and is now considered, I believe, a strict disciplinarian. At the Golden Jubilee Dinner in 1952, I was honoured to have him as my guest and I taxed him with this change in temperament. He told me that one could not keep the same lighthearted approach as one's responsibilities increased. One had to be, or at least appear to be, more severe.

The C.I. tradition was kept alive at St. Edward's by the remarkable continuity of Headmaster and Superior from 1902 to 1931, by Brother Forde and Brother Leahy. During this long period these two Brothers were in charge of the school. They seemed eternal. We were all terrified of Br. Forde, whose very face was severity itself, and who was reputed to have a terrible instrument of punishment, consisting of two canes tied together. I can remember one unfortunate boy who was called in from the playground (he had climbed a forbidden fence) to suffer this extreme penalty. On his return, his two companions escorted him around the playground, giving him such comfort as they could.

I only suffered once from Br. Forde's attention. We were all sitting our Matriculation examinations, and it happened that on one afternoon, there was no set examination. Some forty or fifty of us decided that there was also no school. Tom Banks and I went to the baths. Next morning, Br. Greenish told us that Br. Forde had been taking strengthening exercises from an early hour. Sure enough, we were all summoned to the hall, where we each received four strokes, a gigantic task, and even those at the end of the queue had no cause to rejoice at any weakening of the great man's muscles.

In addition to the Headmaster and Superior, we were fortunate to have the same Brothers and lay-masters throughout my school career. Br. McHenry and Mr. Curtin were models of aristocracy, while Brother Doyle was a great sportsman, and the boys' idol. Mr. Rowe was a brilliant mathematician, but also an ogre. He lifted for us the curtain to show us the wonders of Calculus, but time has since dropped the curtain, and I retain no memory of it, merely a recollection of a distinction in Maths and Additional Maths, but all his pupils got the same results!

In 1924, I was fortunate enough to win a form prize, being second to Tom Nelson. The prizes were distributed by Archbishop Keating in the school hall. The school choir, of which I was a member, sat in benches on either side of the platform, while our parents occupied the main hall. The back of the bench in front of me contained a knot hole, and through it I was inquisitive enough to push a finger. Which would not come out! I spent an anguished half hour, expecting the choir to be called upon at any moment, which would leave me alone in full view of the visitors, with my finger stuck through a knot hole. The choir was eventually called upon and, at the last moment, with a despairing pull, I released my finger.

No account of school life in the twenties would be complete without reference to the Football Shield matches. These games were played on the same basis as the F.A. cup, except that the full draw is made at the start of the competition. New schools like Quarry Bank and St. Mary's, were little thought of. The prospect of a battle against S.F.X., Collegiate, or Liverpool Institute, stirred up mountains of enthusiasm. School work must have been seriously impeded. The whole school was paraded for practice in the School Cry. Nick Kearney, or whoever was head boy, would call us on to greater and more united efforts. At the game itself, home or away, the whole school lined the touch-line, and there was Nick Kearney again to lead the K.O. Rahs ! We usually pitied the other schools whose turnout of boys rarely equalled our own.

When I arrived at the school, the Senior and Junior teams had swept the board for some years. There followed a period of mixed fortunes, but in 1928, the year before I left school for University, both teams were successful again. The finals were played at Anfield and Goodison Park, and we felt ourselves belonging to the best school anywhere. Tom Banks scored the only goal to give us victory and the Shield. He was a brilliant and charming boy who, sadly, died of consumption before he was thirty.

The school was also successful at athletics, where Jack Pozzi was unbeatable at the long jump and almost everything else as well. In 1924, we shared the Liverpool Colleges' Athletic Championships with S.F.X. They kept the shield for the first half year, while we were to hold it for the second half. When we returned from Christmas holidays, Br. Leahy assembled us in the hall to present the shield to Ronald Anderson as senior competitor. Mr. Maher, as P.T. instructor received due praise, and then the whole school was dismissed for the day.

My own sporting ability was small, consisting of a few successes in the sack race, the three legged race, etc. One year, my mother was invited to present the prizes, father being a governor. Br. Doyle told me that it was vital for me to win a prize. I believe that he held the others back to allow me to come in third, and I was duly presented with a glass jam-dish by mother.

The Chapel in the grounds was also a parish church. Indeed it had been built as the Lady Chapel for the projected Cathedral. The Chapel was the centre of our devotional activities. Father O'Shea, and Mgr. Malone were wonderful priests who were frequent visitors to the College, and they conducted several retreats. Mgr. Malone had won the M.C. in the first world war, and he was a giant of a man both physically and as a personality. Benediction and daily prayers formed a regular part of our daily life. In no way were we saints, but I feel sure that we could not have received a better grounding in our Faith and its practice.

It has always surprised me that more boys have not offered themselves to join the order. The main burden of further education on Merseyside has been borne by the Christian Brothers. The continuation of this task should not be left to others. A Christian Brother accepts the rules of a religious life in a teaching order. It is, I feel sure, a hard life. Its immediate rewards are seen in the continuation of vocations and the large body of responsible Catholic lay-men in the area. The Brothers can feel with certainty that their job is worth while and well done.

J. Graeme Bryson, O.B.E., T.D., L.L.M., J.P.