Spirit of Birkenhead Institute

Pupils' and Staff Memories of Birkenhead Institute Grammar School

Above is an artist's impression of the Junior School, and below is a photograph of the building itself:


THE JUNIOR SCHOOL, 1888 - 1944

The Birkenhead Institute Junior School existed from 1888 through to 1944. It had its own school magazine called "The Whetstonian", similar to "The Visor".  Two spellings of the magazine have been used in The Visor, namely Whetstonian and Whetsonian.

It is not certain which year this was first published, but the Whetstonian appeared in the late 1920s, (Around 1927), and was absorbed into The Visor in 1928. Below can be seen parts of the magazine, (4th edition), from Summer, 1928:-

In the early days, the school was known as the Junior School, but later became known as the Kindergarten, or Preparatory. It consisted of the first three forms of the school, and from 1904, after amalgamation with R. Galloway's private school in Clifton Road with the B.I., it existed for another 40 years. The original Kindergarten moved to Clifton Road in 1904, but then moved to the Headmaster's house in 1908, when the Corporation took over the Birkenhead Institute.

The Headmaster's house was at No.1 Hollybank Road. While the building of the school was in progress in 1912, the Junior School remained at the Headmaster's house, but it then moved back to the new buildings in 1913. As the number of pupils increased, the Junior School moved finally to a new permanent residence in 1917 to the Junior School building, (As can be seen in the above drawing). The true creators of the department were Miss Farrell and Mr Hilton, (A local celebrity golfer), but its definitive organisation really began under Miss F.E. Bowers who presided over it from 1917 to 1942.

The excellence of Miss Bowers' methods produced a preparatory division of which the Institute came to be genuinely proud, and some of its most distinguished members owed much to the foundations laid in the Junior School. Its pupils wore a distinctive uniform of dark blue or grey, (According to the season), with red facings, and their life, whether in classroom or in the annual Play, which was produced in the delightfully kept garden, or in the Cub pack, was admirably conducted.

Honours boards in the entrance hall commemorated those who proceeded by internal scholarship at the age of 11 to the Senior School. The Whetsonian school magazine towards the late 1920s, and as mentioned above, was absorbed into the Visor in 1928, when the Visor began being produced on a regular basis for the B.I. as a complete school.

In addtion to Miss Bowers, other mistresses who did yeoman work at the Junior School were Miss Ashcroft, Miss Dyer, Mrs Davies, and also Miss Booth, (Later Mrs Curtis), who was on the staff from 1927 until 1946, thus seeing the end of the department for whch she had done so much before closing her career with two final years in the Senior School.

The operation of the Butler Act brought about the closure of the school in 1944. The building was later used by the Geography Department under Mr Allison, and also by the lending library. The old form libraries were later combined under the guidance of Mr Hall, and an excellent collection of fiction and general literature, (Along with the reference library in the main building), were available to borrowers. The remainder of the ground floor of the old Junior School was occupied by the Careers Department and Mr Squires.

No history of the Birkenhead Institute would be complete without the place which the Junior School occupied in those early years.

If anyone remembers the Junior School or the Whetstonian magazine, I would be pleased to hear your memories and experiences.