Saturday, 1 May 2021

Campbell College Charter

CAMPBELL COLLEGE stands in its own grounds on the outskirts of east Belfast.

It is located on the site of what was once Belmont House, seat of Sir Thomas McClure Bt.

The 1st June, 1951, was a very special day for Campbell: The presentation of a Royal Charter by Her Majesty The Queen (Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother) on behalf of The King (GEORGE VI).

The Chairman of the Governors was the Rev J K L McKean; the Headmaster, Ronald Groves MA BSc.

Major Lytle was Commanding Officer of the Corps.

Among those presented to the Royal Party included:
  • Major R D Williams MC BA
    The Rev Canon L W Crooks MA
    The Rev R Hyndman DD BA
    W H Niall Nelson
    R Watts MC
    The Rt Hon the Lord MacDermott MC PC
    John Archer MA
    The Ven C I Peacocke TD MA
    Lieutenant-Colonel J R H Greeves TD BSc
    Dr James Boyd CBE MD BSc
    R S Brownell CBE (Permanent Secretary, Dept of Educ.)
    Mrs Dermot Campbell
    The Headmaster of Cabin Hill School & Mrs Sutton
    Major C A Bowen TD MA (Second Master)
    C B Mitchell MA (President, Old Campbellian Society)
    Major T B Dunn (Chairman, OC Council)
HM Queen Elizabeth and HRH The Princess Margaret

The weather was clement; the grounds were at their best; the College, "the warm red brick building [standing] out nobly against the background of the trees" (W V Thomas).

Guest began to arrive shortly after two o'clock; the Boys took up position along one side of the Quadrangle under the Masters' Common-room windows.

The Guard of Honour, drawn from the College's CCF, stood on the east side of the Quadrangle.

At three twenty-five, the Royal Standard of Her Majesty was broken over Campbell.

The Royal Party had arrived: HM The Queen; HRH The Princess Margaret; HE the Governor of Northern Ireland, the 4th Earl Granville; the Chairman of the Governors, the Rev JKL McKean; the Headmaster and Mrs Groves.


It is with great pride that we welcome Your Majesty and Her Royal Highness The Princess Margaret to Campbell College. Since its foundation in 1894, boys have gone forth from this school to serve the Empire and their generation in many and varied walks of life - in Church and State, the Armed Forces, the liberal professions, the commercial and industrial life of Northern Ireland, and in your Dominions at home and overseas ... in the two world wars 236 Old Boys laid down their lives for God, King and Country; it is with pride that we remember that two of these were awarded the Victoria Cross.
In many other ways its sons have enriched the Ulster heritage and helped to forge the link between Great Britain and Northern Ireland ... which will inspire us and those who follow to even greater efforts to serve Your Majesty and your people with equal loyalty in the future.


The King has asked me to say how very sorry he is not to be able to be here today, as he had been looking forward to the opportunity which his visit to Northern Ireland afforded of coming to one of its most eminent schools, and of seeing some of the boys who will hold many important positions in the varied life of the country in the future ... the notable record to which you have referred prompted your Governors to propose the Campbell College should be given a Royal Charter. The King was very glad to approve this...
On His Majesty's behalf I now present this Charter of Incorporation to the Chairman of the Governors. The King would like to mark this occasion in a form which boys most readily understand and I would therefore ask your Headmaster to add a week to your summer holidays.

Thereafter the Chairman of the Governors replied with a brief word of gratitude.

The Head Boy, Stewart Johnston, came forward and was presented to The Queen.

 The Royal Party were shown the Central Hall and the War Memorials.

Afterwards, the Royal Party walked round the front of the Quadrangle; HM spoke to some of the masters and boys; HM and HRH kindly posed for the rows of boys with cameras; and, as the Royal Salute was played once more, and The Queen's Standard was hauled down, HM and HRH bade farewell.

So ended in every way a golden day in the history of Campbell College.

First published in June, 2011.


Gavin Bamford said...

Timothy, why is the school not called 'Royal Campbell College' then? What does a Royal Charter actually give? Gavin

Anonymous said...

great article - much appreciated

Timothy Belmont said...

Gavin, good point. I don't know the technicalities, I'm afraid.


Although I've passed by it a thousand times, I've never actually been through the gates and into Campbell College but I am taking a wedding there next month and looking forward to seeing the old girl in all her red brick splendour. Thanks for this fascinating history lesson, Lord Belmont.

Mad Mandy Moans said...

Have to say I had a tear in my eye when I read this Tim. What a special occasion and a proud history of loyalty and sacrifice. The thugs causing all the mayhem in east Belfast would never stand up with honour such as that. Bless the Old Boys. MMx

Anonymous said...

I wonder was that the same year I remember seeing Princess Margaret at the Balmoral Show - the dates would probably fit. I was a tall 10year old and amazed at how tiny she was.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tim, I'm not a monarchist, but who can look at Queen Elizabeth and her immediate family without respecting their duty? My concern is that when we look at today's unionists, all these great values are lacking.