SPIRIT OF BIRKENHEAD INSTITUTE

Birkenhead Institute Grammar School, Wirral

BIRKENHEAD NEWS ARTICLES FROM APRIL AND NOVEMBER, 1926: - THE NEW B.I. SPORTS PAVILION IS OPENED, FOLLOWING THE FOUNDATION STONE BEING LAID BY ALDERMAN SOLLY

Birkenhead News 10 November, 1926

 ‘A Worthy Memorial’

 Almost the last ceremony performed by Councillor R P Fletcher, in his office as Mayor of the Borough, was to accept, on behalf of the Corporation, the new sports pavilion and playing fields which form the War Memorial of the Birkenhead Institute. The ceremony took place in brilliant sunshine on Saturday afternoon. The pavilion, which is situated at Higher Tranmere, was designed by Mr T Taliesen Rees, and created at a cost of £1,400 as a memorial to the eighty-six old boys of the Institute who lost their lives in the war. Among those present at the ceremony were the Mayoress, Mrs R P Fletcher, Mr J H Clegg, Mayor Elect, Alderman G A Solly, chairman of the Governors of the Institute, and Mrs Solly; Alderman A H Arkle, chairman of the Education Committee; Mr R T Jones, Director of Education; Mr Gomer Roberts, Mr A M Hughes, chairman of the Old Boys’ Association, and Mr F Seward, chairman of the War Memorial Committee.

 Mr F Seward, asking the Mayor to accept the pavilion on behalf of the Corporation, expressed his indebtedness to the many subscribers, and said he felt sure the boys who had laid down their lives in the war would have wished the memorial to take the form of a sports pavilion and playing fields.

 The Mayor said that that, almost the last official duty he would be called upon to perform, was some of the pleasantest he could have hoped for.

 In accepting the care and maintenance of the pavilion on behalf of the Corporation, his Worship said it was a worthy memorial to those who had lost their lives, and would perpetuate the memory of the boys of the Institute who responded to the call of their country, and fought and died during the war, to generations of future students of the Institute.

 He trusted that the boys who used the pavilion would co-operate with the authorities in maintaining it as a worthy memorial to those whom it commemorated. They had shown in their lives and in their glorious deaths that the lessons inculcated to them of discipline, self-reliance, initiative and self-respect, had not been lost when they were thrown into the vortex of the European war. They had all maintained themselves in a manner worthy of their race, and the boys who would  use this pavilion in the future should, now and again, reflect on the example of those who had sacrificed themselves that civilisation might be maintained. It was with the greatest pleasure that he accepted the pavilion on behalf of the Corporation.

 Mr J H Clegg, Mayor Elect, said he trusted the boys who used the pavilion, would remember that in their sports they were playing, not as individuals but as a team, and just as the old boys were a team which carried the war to a successful conclusion, so the present students should maintain the team spirit and play the game, not only in their sports but in the great game of life.

 Following the ceremony of receiving the pavilion on behalf of the Corporation, the Mayor kicked off in a football match between the old boys of the Institute, and the Liverpool Holt Secondary School.

Birkenhead News April 21st , 1926. 

Memorial Stone laid by Alderman Solly

 In a heavy downpour of rain on Saturday afternoon, Alderman G A Solly, who has been Chairman of the Governors of the Birkenhead Institute since 1908, laid the foundation stone of the War Memorial Sports Pavilion, which is being erected on the school’s new playing fields at Higher Tranmere.

 Large playing fields have been granted to the school by the Corporation on the Tranmere Hall Estate, and the Pavilion is being built as a memorial to the eighty-four old boys who laid down their lives in the war. Subscriptions from old boys and the relatives of the fallen have been received from all parts of the world.

 Among those present at the ceremony on Saturday afternoon were Alderman A H Arkle (Chairman of the Education Committee), Mr Luke Lees (Deputy Chairman of the Education Committee), Alderman R J Russell, Mr J Smallpage , B.A. (Headmaster), Mr R T Jones (Director of Education), and a large number of relatives, old boys, and present scholars.

 Mr Frank Seward, presiding, said that the programme explained why they were present that day, and though there had been a certain amount of delay their grief at the loss of those valuable lives was not lessened. The love for those who were lost did not prevent appreciation for those who returned, many of whom were present.

 The programme also reminded those present that the way they were keeping in memory those who did not return was one which, he thought, they would have wished. Mr Charles Lewis was the original chairman of the committee, and it was a matter of great regret that he did not live to be present that day. Mr Seward had been chairman long enough to know that the delay was not caused by lack of subscriptions. It had been unavoidable, and much generosity had been experienced that in place of the mere pavilion they had aimed at they had been encouraged to try and secure some inside equipment. Mr Davis, the builder, had put his heart into the work, partly because of his own loss, and partly because of his great interest in the memorial. They were much indebted to Mr T T Rees, the architect, whose work had been absolutely voluntary.

 The committee, had they wished, could have no alternative to asking Alderman G A Solly to lay the memorial stone. Only those who had worked with him could have any idea of the help he had given. His interest in the Institute boys, past and present, had always been very pronounced.

 Alderman Solly was then presented with a silver trowel by the architect, Mr T T Rees, and after laying the foundation stone addressed those present.

 First, he said, he wished publicly to thank the Committee and chairman for paying him the honour they had paid him in inviting him to lay the foundation stone. Secondly, he wished to thank Mr T T Rees for presenting him with the trowel, which would be a pleasant memento of a very pleasant occasion.

 He hoped that all who were associated with the school would not take that day as one of sorrow. They should try to look forward with hope and truth, and all that had been gone through would not be in vain. The younger boys could not remember the first years of the war, but he hoped they would be inspired by the example of those who had volunteered for service during the early war years.

 The ground was not yet ready for the full number of games to be played, but the  younger boys would be able to get in some practice games during the coming summer.

 Mr Gomer Roberts, on behalf of the committee responsible for the erection of the pavilion, proposed a vote of thanks to all who had subscribed to the fund for the way in which they had rallied round the committee. He felt the boys of the school would carry Alderman Solly’s message in their hearts all their lives. Alderman Solly was a tower of strength to the school.

 The vote was seconded, on behalf of the old boys, by Mr Noel Williams, who said that Mr Solly was the only public man who had consistently backed up the school in its claim for athletic facilities.

 The Rev R E T Bell, vicar of St Mary’s Church, conducted the religious service, and the hymn, “Oh, God Our Help in Ages Past” was sung. The ceremony ended with the “Last Post” and the singing of the National Anthem.

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 The above articles are courtesy of the Birkenhead News, with many thanks to Dean Johnson, Rob Wood, and Jeff Walsh for providing this valuable historical information relating to the Birkenhead Institute Memorial Playing Fields, and how they came to be established in 1926.

THE B.I. SPORTS PAVILION: OPENING IN 1926

B.I. PAVILION FOUNDATION STONE IS LAID

ALDERMAN SOLLY LAYS MEMORIAL STONE

BIRKENHEAD NEWS ARTICLE - LAYING THE FOUNDATION STONE

INGLEBOROUGH ROAD PLAYING FIELDS

Here is some history about the Ingleborough Road Playing Fields:-

INGLEBOROUGH ROAD MEMORIAL  PLAYING FIELDS

 

The following information is contained within the following publications:

 

§        School Jubilee 1889-1939

§        A History of Birkenhead Institute 1889-1949

§        Birkenhead Institute Its Foundation and Growth.

§        A History of Birkenhead Institute 1898-1959

 

A plaque in remembrance of the Old Boys killed in the First World War was presented by Alderman Solly, and unveiled in March 1920 by Major- General Sir Reginald Barnes K.C.B.

 

In 1925 seven acres were purchased at Ingleborough Road for the Birkenhead Institute playing fields.

Previously the School had played its games in many places  firstly in Wilmer Road. The Old Archery Ground in Birkenhead Park , Port Sunlight, Prenton (where Carlaw Road now stands) Higher Bebington (on the site of The Wiend)

The field was levelled and sown and all that was needed was a pavilion, a want that was to be supplied by the Old Boys’ in 1926 , for it was decided that this would be  a fitting Memorial to the Old Boys’ who had fallen in the First World War.

At this time there was a great movement nationally by the civil populace to remember the victims of the First World War.

 

A committee was formed, and a Playing Field Fund established

Various fund raising activities were then undertaken to raise money. These varied from drama presentations to a bazaar.

There were no lottery grants or object one “quango” funding in those days.

Through the generosity of the Old Boys and the hard work of the Staff the foundation memorial stone was laid by Alderman G Solly on the 17th April 1926 and formally opened on 6th November 1926 by the Mayor of Birkenhead Mr R.P.Fletcher who accepted it on behalf of the Corporation. just in time for Armistice Day.

 

Mr F Seward in asking the Mayor to accept the Pavilion on behalf of the Corporation , said he felt sure that the boys who laid down their lives would have wished the Memorial to take the form of a sports pavilion and playing fields.

The fields were known as “The Mount Road Memorial Ground Ingleborough Road.”

The Architect was a Mr Thomas Taliesin Rees who gave his services free.

The ceremony was followed by a football match between the Old Boys’ F.C. and Old Holts.

The flag staff was erected in 1930

 

The eighty eight poplar trees to honour those pupils who lost their lives in the First World War including the world renowned poet Wilfred Owen were planted in 1933 .

 

A film was made of the event and shown to an audience of parents, friends and Old Boys to raise further money for the Playing Field Fund,

to enable the ornamental entrance archway to be added in 1933, again through the generosity of Old Boys.

 

The remaining funds were used to set up the Old Boys Memorial Prize awarded every Speech Day.

 

In 1938 a bell was donated by Mr & Mrs Luton in honour of their son, and a bracket to hang it,  by R.N. Smith.

 

The playing fields were used by the school and in their early days by the Old Instonians Rugby Club.

 

From its history the site is rightly listed with the Imperial War Museum as a First World War Memorial along with the eighty eight poplar trees planted on the boundary to honour the former pupils from the Birkenhead Institute who died in the First World War.

 

After the closure of the School, the playing fields were acquired from Wirral Borough Council  by Tranmere Rovers FC on 30th August 1995  in exchange for some industrial land in Hurrell Road, Bidston, plus a  sum of £25000.00.

When Tranmere Rovers acquired the playing fields they fully undertook to accept the covenants imposed in the Deed of Exchange of 30th August 1995 which amongst other things protected the status of the Memorial Ground as a playing field and the interests of the Residents of The Tranmere Hall Estate.

 

The memorial gates were removed by Tranmere Rovers in 2001 and have not been replaced.

 

Tranmere Rovers are in discussions with Wirral B C to see if they can obtain planning permission and sell the site for housing.

 

In the last published accounts for Tranmere Rovers, the Clubs debt of £5.2 million has been converted into a mortgage against Ingleborough Road Playing Fields on behalf of the owner.

Helen Dodd, a Graduate from Wirral, is fighting a proposal in August, 2011 against the building of houses on the B.I. playing fields site. Please also see the Home Page for more details.  More information about this will be added to this page in due course. 

The B.I. Pupils' Web Site can be found at:-

http://biwirral.webs.com/

Below there is also an excellent article by Jeff Walsh, former B.I. pupil and Teacher, which I hope will be of great interest to former B.I. pupils and staff.  Jeff taught me English at the B.I., and it is a privilege to include this item. There are also some extracts from "The Visor" which refer to the 88 trees planted at the Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Fields.