Saturday, 29 September 2012

Brackenber House Uniform

If anyone reading my blog happens to have a Brackenber uniform in their possession; or could even take a photograph of it, I'd be keen to publish it here. I attended Brackenber in the early seventies.

I have checked the internet and there is scarcely any information about Brackenber or, to give the school its full name, Brackenber House Preparatory School. The school was an old, Victorian villa in Cleaver Avenue, south Belfast; and it was demolished many years ago in order to make way for a housing development.

This is the only entry which gives a little information. A past pupil has taken the trouble to publish this.

In my time, the headmaster was John Craig. Other teachers included Harvey Cross, Frank McQuoid, John Magowan, Miss Rankin, Mr Sheehan, Mr Maguire, Mr Bull, Dorothy Dunlop and Mrs Horne among others.

Two names always amused me: Mr Bull, appropriately enough, taught physical education; and guess what Mrs Horne taught? That's correct, music!

There were many fellow pupils there; however I particularly recall Patrick "Paki" Lowry, Roderick Mitchell, Paul Moffatt (furniture), Richard Pierce, Johnny Irvine (ITN), Andrew Gemmil, Howard Hastings (hotels), Alan McKelvey, Elmes, Jay Piggott (CCB headmaster), Nicholas Tougher, Nigel Coates and lots of others.

During my time at Brackenber, my prowess on the track was almost invincible, believe it or not. I won the senior 100 yards; senior hurdles; long jump; and 220 yards. These victories culminated in my being presented with the Victor Ludorum trophy in 1973. I'm blowing my own trumpet, since nobody else is offering!

The uniform consisted of long, knee-length socks which were mainly grey with red tops; grey shorts; a red blazer with white BHS insignia on the breast-pocket; a red and white striped tie; and a red school-boy's cap with white lettering insignia, too.

I'm afraid that, sadly, I can find only a mere sock - which hasn't been washed since it was last worn, 35 years ago - along with the Old Brackenbrian tie; the cap is somewhere and I imagine I'll come across it eventually. The old boys' tie is maroon, black and white striped. The uniform was scarlet in colour, like the colour of the Grenadier Guards! My House was called Hawks, and we all had little, circular enamel badges to display in our button-holes in order to identify which house well belonged to.

Once again, if there are any Old Brackenbrians out there reading this, and they could send me a photograph of the uniform - anything at all, even a photograph of the school - I shall publish it here.

First published in February, 2009.


Anonymous said...

I was a pupil at BHS in 79 and my family should still have photographs, I certainly have photographs of Teams like football, cricket and rugby. Also photographs of the blazer.

Nice to know there are still individuals who remember how great the school was and unique.

Anonymous said...

I just remembered that I was a "Lion" and wore the badge as described by Lord Belmont

Fond memories

Timothy Belmont said...

I was a Hawk; and I still have the little enamel circular badge for the buttonhole. The badge has a capital H in gold and white enamel.


Charlie said...

I too was at Brackenber and have very fond memories, i must have been a few years below you (younger!!) as i remember some of the names you mention. I won the VL two years in a row which was probably the pinnicle of my athletics career!! I happened upon your blog by accident and have not read all the threads but do you know that there is an old boys dinner held every year? which considering the school has been closed for a 'few years' is very well attended, next one on 19th February in Reform Club in Belfast, see, I am sure that some of your year still attend.


Timothy Belmont said...

Good to hear from you, Charlie. Did you win the VL in 76?

I'm ashamed to admit that I've never been to the old boys' dinner! Do you go on your own? I'd be wondering whether I'd be with strangers; or if I knew anyone there...

Rupert Mills said...

I along with my 2 brothers attended Brackember House School in the 70's and undoubedtly have pictures of the uniform, official school photos, rugby team etc. My younger brother, Angus, was the last to leave the school when there were only 6 pupils in total getting an exclusive service from the late John Craig et al.
The Old Boys dinner runs annually and this year it is on 19th Fem in teh Ulster reform Club. You should try and make it if you can. Mr Mcguire is a regular attendee and has a very impressive memory of al of us.

Timothy Belmont said...

Hello Rupert,

I was at BHS 1971-73.

If you like I could post some of your school photos on the blog.

I noticed the dinner date on the BHS website today. Do you go on your own; or with a group?


Geddess said...

Hi Lord Belmont, so great to find your blog. I am the owner of the page you referenced earlier (need to fix some links (think I made that page around 1999)). Please see my old school cap and maybe a forum for BHS Alumni:

I attended Brackenber from 1974 to 1982, my brother from 1978 to 1983 or so (he was one of the last) - My Dad was also tutored by Mr Craig, circa mid 40's early 50's.

I still have my blazer somewhere with Honours for soccer (white patch with red BHS letters on breast). Will have to upload a pic sometime!

I was a Hawk with a blue badge!

So glad to hear BHS Old Boys Dinners are still going - I went to the Thrup Bit twice for the Old Boys dinner.

After Brackenber I was off to Strathallan School in Perth Scotland, then University in Winnipeg Canada - cold!

So Minneapolis, USA was next on my venture to something warmer - I now live in sunny Tampa, Florida!

Memories of chess club with Mr McGuire then running around a darkened school with your mates before the parents showed up - priceless!

I went back last year (September 2010) and revisited, Brackenber House //is no longer there as you know but I jogged down Cleaver as I had done for games period (Harvey Cross or Mr Bull watching)/running before (when North was not available for Rugby/soccer):

Steve Geddes


Kifferdodge said...

I was at Brackenber in the t950s. Many of the staff you mention were there then. Liked Powell-Sheehan the best, though Craig wasn't a bad cove either. The Deputy Head was Norman Henry who left to become a professional actor. Saw him on TV in Dr Who and Lorna Doon years later.
Didn't really care for the place. Almost all my chums were at Inchmarlo and my dad and grandfather had both been at RBAI. Felt a bit of a misfit. But it seems my mother thought BHS would put some manners on me. By Form IV I'd had enough. Sat the Inst Entrance and set off to become a dyed in the wool Instonian.

PADDY said...

Let's make this a good turnout Gentlemen.

PADDY said...


The 2012 BHA Old Boy's Dinner on Feb 10th (Friday) at Europa.
This will be the second year we are holding it at this venue.
RSVP to Mr Harvey, Esq (see website).
Worth it just for the Penthouse City Views!
Don't forget to 'dust off' your school tie.
Looking forward to seeing some familiar faces.

Mark Brand said...

I have just found a photograph of myself in my Brackenber uniform taken on my first day. It shows the full uniform (cap and satchel included) I would be happy to send it to you.

Anonymous said...

I was a Tiger back in the day! The Annual Dinner is back home to the Reform Club. So much more in keeping with the ethos of Brackenber. Just needs Mr Craig's picture of Winston up on the wall! And perhaps Bracken by the fire. Golden Days Gents. Just heard that Sir Robert (Beezer) Porter passed away end of May and Sir John Gorman, MC. We few we happy few...

Anonymous said...

Hello all. I just found this blog. I was a Tiger - the precise dates elude me right now - it was the mid 60's to 71 I think. Many fond memories. Mr Craig was a great teacher and inspired terror and affection in equal parts in me! Does anyone recall the playground with the big bank in the middle, where small grubby boys quarried and made racetracks for Dinky Toys. Also the air-raid shelter that was being gradually filled up with urine?