Saturday, 6 February 2021

Brackenber In The 1950s

A fellow Old Brackenbrian, Tom Graham, sent me three photographs of staff and pupils at Brackenber House prep school, Belfast, during the mid-fifties.

Many thanks, Tom, for such a wonderful contribution.

If you click on the image below, it ought to enlarge.

Tom describes these pictures in his own words:-

"Above is a school photo from about 1956/57. So few pupils, so many teachers!. A student/teacher ratio which would bring a tear to the eye of any modern educator.

On Mr Craig's left is the famous Miss Rankin. I can't name any of the young women to her left.

To his right is Mr Henry, Deputy Principal .

He left to become an actor with the Royal Shakespeare Company at Stratford-upon-Avon; then Mr Hunter, next, I believe is the Sport/PE master, whose name escapes me".

"Mr Ferguson and two unknown trainee teachers complete the line-up.

They were all good teachers. Their skills greatly eased the transition to Secondary education".

The photo above suggests that not all reds are equal.

Substantial differences in the blazers are clearly visible. The BHS monogram is missing from many pockets.

My guess is that many families must have struggled financially, and economised by not buying blazers from the approved supplier".

"My parents managed to outfit my brother as well as myself from the approved supplier, but only just, I suspect.

The parents at my daughter's private school ran a thriving a second hand uniform shop. I can't remember any such thing at Brackenber.

I do not recall an overcoat being part of the uniform. It's cost might have been the final straw which would have deterred some parents".

PS That's me, Tom, in the top left corner!

"Above is the football team from 1956/57. We tried hard, but rarely succeeded. The school was small,  so the talent pool was shallow.

We played against Rockport and Cabin Hill, but not against nearby Inchmarlo. The school supplied the shirts, but not the socks, shorts,or boots.

As you can see, the sports budget did not stretch to providing more than one size of shirt! For away matches, Mr Craig took all twelve of us in his car!"

First published in 2009.


Timothy Belmont said...

One of those teachers reminds me, a bit, of Mr Sheehan. What a kindly soul, to the extent that some boys took advantage of his good nature.

Not I. I recall bringing Mr Sheehan a leaving present of a carton of his favourite cigarettes. He smoked like a train! I think Miss Rankin was a prolific smoker, too.


dojc said...

Yes that is Mr Sheehan. He and Ms Rankin smoked like chimney's. Sheehan in fact had been a fighter pilot during WW2 and was credited with shooting down a V-1 rocket (a doodlebug) but flicking its wings over with the wing of his spitfire.

Ps I can anme a few names in those photographs. I will send you a copy of mine (the cricket team)

dojc said...

Ps excuse the grammer just the excitement of seeing old friends.

DOJC said...

after a few attempts i have managed to get Brackenber House Preparatory School loaded to To find the school page, you need to join up (its free) and then search overseas school, under country select Ireland, then undetr city select B, then Belfast you should see Campbell College and Brackenber. It was too hard trying to explain to the American webmasters the difference between Northern Ireland and Ireland - LOL.

Timothy Belmont said...

All this information is wonderful. I had absolutely no idea that Mr Sheehan was a war-time pilot. I wonder if the experience affected his nerves; he was such a kindly and gentle soul.


dojc said...

I am trying to remember the names in the school photo that Tom Graham supplied you. I was at BHPS at that time ('54-'63). I think Tom is standing next to Ian Gledhill (aka Gledhill 1) - on Tom's right shoulder and Unknown, Colin McVicker and Tony Lemon on his other side. But note i dont see myself LOL so I might have the names wrong. Tell Tom to drop me a line at and we can try and fill in some names.

PS great site

Timothy Belmont said...

No probelm, dojc. I'll forward Tom your request.

Delighted to hear that I've been able to re-unite some Old Brackenbrians generally.


dojc said...

Thanks Tim. Or as we say in "down under' land No Worries. Funny we seem to communicate when the cricket is on.


David Cole (aka dojc)

Dick Rodgers said...

Nice to see this. Richard Rodgers About 1954 to ddfinite 1960.Lions.