Templemore Avenue School 1926 - 1976
The Templemore Area
The area that we call Templemore in the Town land of Ballymacarrett takes its name from Baron Templemore, a relative of the Chichester family, owners of the lands in and around Belfast. Baron Templemore owned the land during the 19th Century. It was this gentleman who decided to build tree line Avenues and large houses for the newly arrived Artisans and Managers who where coming into the area to meet the labour needs of the major employers. However, half way through the building of these houses he went bankrupt and that is the reason why the Avenue has so many different types of houses, other builders moved in to take on the work of completing the houses that where planned.
Kings Field of Westbourne
However, the site that the School sits on, was not part of this development and it remained as a field on a farm in the middle of the town. This farm was owned by an Alexander King and his brother William and up until the 1880s he used it for grazing his cattle.
All this changed in 1886 when the Kings Field of Westbourne, as it was called, was leased to the owners of “Glentoran Football Club”. The Glens called it the Westbourne Grounds and played there from 1886 until 1892/93 season when they moved to the Oval Ground.
The New School
The old street directories and maps up to 1920s show it as field and it was not until 1923 when the newly elected Government of Northern Ireland passed the New Education Act with the aim of bringing together a number of small National Schools under one roof in a large purpose built building. These small National Schools needed to be replaced as they where in mostly slums and unsuitable for children.
Plans where drawn up to build four new schools; the first two of these were to be Euston Street and Templemore Avenue in the East of the city. The Belfast Corporation through the local Education Committee took control of the planning for these schools. The school was to be a Public Elementary School and W G Davies (Architect) was given the task of designing the School. The building was erected by the Contractor Mr Isaac Copeland & Sons. The School was built to accommodate 912 pupils and the foundation stone was laid by the Marchioness of Londonderry and the Lady Mayoress “Lady Turner” on 22nd January 1925. Both the Marchioness and the Lady Mayoress had just come from laying the foundation stone at the new Euston Street School.
The building of the school took only 18 months and was ready for the official opening ceremony which was planned for 11am on 2nd of July 1926; the “Lord Mayor of Belfast Alderman Sir Thomas Dixon H M L” was invited to perform the task of officially opening the gates to the school. He was joined on the platform by Mr J H Robb MP, Alderman J A Duff and Councillors Major Hall Thompson, Donald Cheyne and Major Rupert Stanley, Mr W Robinson from the Education Committee also joined them. The Transfer Certificate gave the following information:
- To be a Public Elementary School
- To accommodate 912 Pupils
- Ground Rent was £155 per year - Paid as a Free Farm Grant
- Type of Building - 2 Story Red Brick
- Playground - none
- Heating - Central
- Lighting - Electric
- Lavatory and Cloakroom accommodation for 912
- Fire Insurance £21,850 Buildings £19,100 Books £250
- Heating £1,300, Desktop fittings and accessories £1,300
Fee Farm Grant for site dated 2nd April 1925 was signed by McCance and Nelson representing William and Robert King “land owners” and the Belfast City Council Education Board.
Some of the Schools That Were Replaced by Templemore Avenue
- Ballymacarrett National School
- Comber Street National School
- Comber Street Infants
- Island St National School
- Westbourne National School
- Westbourne Infants
- Saunders Street National School
- Saunders Street Infants
- St Clements National School
- St Clements Infants
The New School Years
16th August 1926 was a very important day for the school children of this part of the Ballymacarrett Area as they where about to start a new phase in their lives by attending a modern new school a state of the art school and a new beginning in education in Northern Ireland.
The school when opened had 14 members of staff and 561 pupils. On the silver jubilee of the school in 1951 six of these teachers where still in place including “J E Mercer, Headmaster”. Better known to all as TOBY he was Head from 1926-58 and under his leadership the school went from strength to strength. When the school opened a lot of the school programme was around arts and sport, swimming played a major role as the Templemore Swimming Pools and baths where on their doorstep. Football was the main course of interest for the boys and hockey and rounders for the girls.
The School was damaged during the Blitz of 1941 as was all the area around Templemore Avenue, but like the Library and the Hospital it reopened and continued to serve the community.
...And the Band Plays On
In 1946 a number of the parents bought second hand brass instruments and formed a school band, but it was 1949 before the best was to be seen from this band. It was then taken over by the new music teacher and the baton was taken up by Mr A E Bell, He took the band to new heights they began to compete in competitions in Ireland, Britain and Europe.
The Templemore Avenue Brass Band is, 64 years later, still making music and playing Concerts and in Competitions in 2010 and as many as six members of the 1950’s band are still playing in the band today.
The Later Years
By 1950 the numbers attending the school peaked with 955 pupils and a staff of 26. When broken down this meant that there were over 45 pupils per classroom. From then on the numbers reduced and by 1976 there was only 197 registered on the roll. It is estimated that over its 50 year history close to 4,000 children and over 100 teachers passed through the gates of Templemore Avenue School. There were only three headmasters in the 50 year history of the school. They were Mr Mercer 1926-58, Mr D McCullough 58-68, and Mr G Stanford 68-76
As you would expect the school soccer team was very successful and many of its past players went on to make a name for themselves at all levels in the game.
- Ben Neill -“Left Back” Glentoran.
- Cecil Moore -“Goalkeeper” Glentoran
- Sammy Ewing - Glentoran
- Derek Dugan - Distillery Wolves, Blackburn Rovers and Northern Ireland. He was a member of the 1958 N/I World Cup Squad and also the Chairman of the Players Association and was a lead player in bringing about the modern wages that are paid to Footballers today
- George Spiers - Glentoran and Manchester Utd. George was a member of the famous Busby Babes
- Ronnie Briggs - Manchester Utd and Northern Ireland
- Dicky Leeman - Glentoran “Full Back.”
- Jim (Bimbo) Weatherup - winger Crusaders and Glentoran.
- Tommy Morrow - Glentoran Centre Forward “Cougar in 1967”
- Rab Mc Cleary - “Right Back” Glentoran and Ballymena Utd Junior International
- Johnny “Stumpy” Jamison - “Forward” Glentoran and Crusaders also caped by Northern Ireland
- Davy Magill - a top Irish League Referee
Templemore Avenue School - Little Book of Memories (1926-1976)