|St Bede's College|
|Type||Public school and Independent day school|
|Motto||Latin: Nunquam Otio Torpebat|
("He never relaxed in idleness")
|Religious affiliation(s)||Roman Catholic|
|Founder||Cardinal Herbert Vaughan|
|Sister school||Blackrock College|
|Chair of the Governors||Mrs Z Kwiatkowska|
|Headteacher||Mr Louis d'Arcy|
|Age||3 to 18|
|Houses||Siena Bosco Campion Magdalene|
|Colour(s)||Blue and gold|
|Former pupils||Old Bedians|
St Bede's College is an independent Roman Catholic co-educational school for children from 3-18 years on Alexandra Road South in Whalley Range, Manchester, England. It is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference. Mr Louis d'Arcy became Headmaster of the College in January 2019.
Founded in 1876 by the Bishop of Salford, Herbert Vaughan, the College moved to its present site on Alexandra Park Road a few years later after the acquisition of the former Manchester Aquarium building. Shortly afterwards, work began on the Vaughan Building, the College's Grade One Listed building.
The original school was at 16 Devonshire Street, Grosvenor Square, off Oxford Road (then called Oxford Street) and was set up in 1876 by the then Bishop of Salford, Herbert Vaughan, later Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. Originally, the school was conceived as a "commercial school" to prepare the sons of Manchester Catholics for a life in business and the professions.
This was the first school under the patronage of Saint Bede: possibly the name was chosen because the Cardinal's brother, a Benedictine and the Archbishop of Sydney, was Dom Bede Vaughan. In August 1877, the Manchester Aquarium on Alexandra Road South and the plot of land around it was purchased by the then Bishop Vaughan for College purposes. On 10 September 1877, St Bede's College re-opened in the Manchester Aquarium with 45 pupils who were taught by 11 staff, 8 of them priests. The faculty lived in 'Rose Lawn', until the accommodation levels were completed in the Vaughan Building, for both clergy and a large number of boarders. The somewhat spartan conditions were alleviated by a team of long-serving nuns, who took care of the domestic and catering requirements, as well as a number of lay staff.
In the late 1870s and early 1880s, the Vaughan building was constructed (see pictures). The original plan was for a symmetrical building, with five-storey towers at each end. Only one half of this design was ever carried out, but the main ground floor corridor of the Vaughan building is an impressive centrepiece for the school all the same. An imposing entrance on Alexandra Road (decorated with ceramic mouldings by Tinworth) leads into a corridor adorned with mosaics and marble. The original aquarium building (now the school's Academic Hall) leads off the main corridor directly opposite the main entrance. Appropriately the decorative scheme includes plaster mouldings of fish and other marine animals.
In 1891, Salford Catholic Grammar School (the Diocesan Junior seminary) amalgamated with the College which duly became the place where over 500 priests, some of whom later became bishops or archbishops, were educated.
The College Chapel was built in 1898 and the Henshaw Building, named after the fifth Bishop of Salford, was opened around 1932. The Beck Building, named after the seventh Bishop of Salford George Andrew Beck, was opened in 1958 while the St Regis Building, built in the first decade of the 20th century as a retreat house for the Cenacle Convent, was bought by the College in 1970. It remained empty until 1984 when the Governors took the decision to make St Bede's co-educational. Over the next three years, the St Regis building was completely renovated and allowed the College roll to increase from 630 at the beginning of the 1980s to just under 1000 today.
Between 1886 and 1896, the College had an affiliate school [a 'realgymnasium'] at Bonn, Germany, then a small town on the Rhine. It was never successful. British victims of the war are commemorated in the College Chapel.
On a lighter note, small boys would scare each other with tales that the staircase up to the Masters' Library and the professors' rooms in the Vaughan Building was haunted by the ghost of an Edwardian schoolboy, Frank Bonney, who had fallen to his death.
Several notable television series have been filmed in and around the College buildings. For example, it featured in Granada Television's The Jewel in the Crown and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and Clocking Off and as a location for the BAFTA award-winning series The Street.
From the time of the school's move to Alexandra Road, the College supported the nearby St Bede's Mission, and priests on the school's staff worked to provide for the spiritual needs of the Catholic population in Whalley Range. In 1893 the Bishop of Salford, John Bilsborrow, appointed Father James Rowan, a former teacher at the college, as priest in charge of the district. The new English Martyrs Parish Church was consecrated on the Feast of the English Martyrs, 4 May 1922.
The College is divided into three houses, Bosco, Campion and Siena. John Bosco was chosen as an educational figure who brought learning to the street children. Edmund Campion was an English Martyr and courageous in his espousal of his faith. Catherine of Siena was a powerful and passionate figure, who worked courageously with the sick and dying and challenged Popes and leading figures of the day, persuading them to negotiate and compromise.
Traditional form names continue, with entry at age 11 to the College into Upper 3rd (year 7). Pupils then progress through Lower 4th, Upper 4th, Lower 5th, sitting their GCSEs in upper 5th (year 11) before progressing to the Lower 6th and finally the Upper 6th for A Levels. These form names look back to a time when the first year of entry into the Prep school was the Upper 1st. The Prep school grew out of St. Anne's Preparatory School which was on Wilbraham Road in Fallowfield. Mrs Claire Hunt is Head of Prep and it has been extended to include a nursery school and it is part of the wider 3-18 educational provision at St. Bede's.
The College continues to grow and each year the college admits no more than 100 pupils into year 7 (Upper 3rd).
The St Bede's College Educational Trust attempts to maintain a broad social mix despite the end of the Assisted Places Scheme, by providing a small number of bursaries on a means-tested basis for those children whose families financial circumstances would normally prevent attendance.
In recent years the College has found itself involved in two separate historic abuse investigations; in 2008, a former teacher Father William Green was charged with various counts of indecent assault and indecency with pupils at the school in the 1970s and 1980s. He admitted the offences and was jailed, but has since been released and has now died. The diocese said that it had co-operated with the police and that safeguards against this happening again had long been in place.. Then in 2011 the Manchester Evening News published an article concerning Monsignor Thomas Duggan, who had been Rector at the college during the 1950s and 1960s. It alleged mental, physical and sexual abuse of pupils at the college at that time.. An attempt was later made to bring a private prosecution against the school, but the case was dismissed by the courts.
Former students of the school are known as Old Bedians, and the Old Bedians Association organises regular events including an annual dinner and golf tournament. Alumni of the school, led by the games master and former Sale player Des Pastore MBE, founded the Old Bedians Rugby union Football Club in Chorltonville in 1954. Mr Pastore played a large part in the club's expansion, including the move to its current site at Millgate Lane in Didsbury.
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