St Bede's College, Manchester

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St Bede's College
Motto Latin: Nunquam Otio Torpebat
("He never relaxed in idleness")
Established 1876
Type Independent day school
Religion Roman Catholic
Headmaster Richard Robson[1]
Chair of the Governors Fr Paul Daly STL
Founder Cardinal Vaughan
Location Alexandra Park
M16 8HX
England Coordinates: 53°27′05″N 2°15′09″W / 53.4515°N 2.2526°W / 53.4515; -2.2526
DfE number 352/6032
Students 900~
Gender Coeducational
Ages 3–18
Houses         Siena
Publications Baeda
Former pupils Old Bedians

St Bede's College, Manchester, England is an independent Roman Catholic day school situated on Alexandra Road South in the Whalley Range area of the city, and is a member of the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference.

The school was founded in 1876 by the Bishop of Salford, Herbert Vaughan, and moved to its present site a few years later after the acquisition of the former Manchester Aquarium building.

The diocesan junior seminary, Salford Catholic Grammar School, merged with St Bede's in 1891. Since then over 500 priests have been educated at the school. Although few pupils now go on to enter the priesthood, the school retains an underlying Catholic ethos.


The Vaughan building from Alexandra Road South
Details from four relief panels by Tinworth and Doulton near the main entrance, Vaughan building
Part of the main playground. In the background is the Vaughan building, with the Beck building to the right.

The original school was located at 16, Devonshire Street, Grosvenor Square, off Oxford Road (then called Oxford Street) and was set up in 1876 by the then Bishop of Salford, Herbert Vaughan, later Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster. Originally, the school was conceived as a "commercial school" to prepare the sons of Manchester Catholics for a life in business and the professions.

This was the first school under the patronage of Saint Bede: possibly the name was chosen because the Cardinal's brother, a Benedictine and the Archbishop of Sydney, was Dom Bede Vaughan. In August 1877, the Manchester Aquarium on Alexandra Road South and the plot of land around it was purchased by the then Bishop Vaughan for College purposes. On 10 September 1877, St Bede's College re-opened in the Manchester Aquarium with 45 pupils who were taught by 11 staff, 8 of them priests. The faculty lived in 'Rose Lawn', until the accommodation levels were completed in the Vaughan Building, for both clergy and a large number of boarders. The somewhat spartan conditions were alleviated by a team of long-serving nuns, who took care of the domestic and catering requirements, as well as a number of lay staff.

In the late 1870s and early 1880s, the Vaughan building was constructed (see pictures). The original plan was for a symmetrical building, with five-storey towers at each end. Only one half of this design was ever carried out, but the main ground floor corridor of the Vaughan building is an impressive centrepiece for the school all the same. An imposing entrance on Alexandra Road (decorated with ceramic mouldings by Tinworth[2]) leads into a corridor adorned with mosaics and marble. The original aquarium building (now the school's Academic Hall) leads off the main corridor directly opposite the main entrance. Appropriately the decorative scheme includes plaster mouldings of fish and other marine animals.

In 1891, Salford Catholic Grammar School (the Diocesan Junior seminary) amalgamated with the College which duly became the place where over 500 priests, some of whom later became bishops or archbishops, were educated.

The College Chapel was built in 1898 and the Henshaw Building, named after the fifth Bishop of Salford, was opened around 1932. The Beck Building, named after the seventh Bishop of Salford George Andrew Beck, was opened in 1958 while the St Regis Building, built in the first decade of the 20th century as a retreat house for the Cenacle Convent, was bought by the College in 1970. It remained empty until 1984 when the Governors took the decision to make St Bede's co-educational. Over the next three years, the St Regis building was completely renovated and allowed the College roll to increase from 630 at the beginning of the 1980s to just under 1000 today.[3]

Between 1886 and 1896, the College had an affiliate school [a 'realgymnasium'] at Bonn, Germany, then a small town on the Rhine. It was never successful.[4] British victims of the war are commemorated in the College Chapel.

On a lighter note, small boys would scare each other with tales that the staircase up to the Masters' Library and the professors' rooms in the Vaughan Building was haunted by the ghost of an Edwardian schoolboy, Frank Bonney, who had fallen to his death.

English Martyrs[edit]

From the time of the school's move to Alexandra Road, the College supported the nearby St Bede's Mission, and priests on the school's staff worked to provide for the spiritual needs of the Catholic population in Whalley Range. In 1893 the Bishop of Salford, John Bilsborrow, appointed Father James Rowan, a former teacher at the college, as priest in charge of the district. The new English Martyrs Parish Church was consecrated on the Feast of the English Martyrs, 4 May 1922.


St Regis Building, Wellington Road

The school now admits children from families of whatever Christian denomination. It provides a wide range of subjects and pupils perform well at GCSE and A-level.[5] Since September 2005 the school has adopted a two-week timetabling system, with alternate weeks operating on schedules named after the school colours—that is, Blue Week is followed by Gold Week and so on. Although St Bede's is a fee-paying independent school, until 1999 many pupils had their fees paid by the Trafford Local Education Authority. Despite lying outside Trafford the school provided education to families from the metropolitan borough as part of the grammar school system in operation there.[6] This peculiarity resulted in the school having a wider social mix than many in the UK independent sector. The St Bede's College Educational Trust attempts to maintain this broad entry despite the end of this arrangement and the Assisted Places Scheme, by providing bursaries on a means-tested basis.

The Preparatory Department grew out of St Anne's Preparatory School, which was on Wilbraham Road in Fallowfield, and affiliated with Xaverian College. The last headmaster was the eccentric City Alderman Roger Delahunty. His other duties included censoring films on behalf of the Watch Committee.[7] When the Diocese's schools were re-organised in the mid-1970s, the Preparatory Department moved into the Gonne building, under headmaster Mr. A. Howard Chisnall. Several notable television series have been filmed in and around the school buildings. For example, the school featured in Granada Television's The Jewel in the Crown[8] and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes,[9] and Clocking Off. The school is currently being used as a location for the BAFTA award winning series The Street.[citation needed]

School publications[edit]

  • Baeda is the school's annual publication and reviews the academic, sporting and other events within the school. It was first published at Michaelmas 1896. It chronicles the achievements of pupils and publishes works of arts, poetry and prose, as well as tales from ex-pupils. Although the editor is a member of staff, it is largely contributed to by pupils. Its name is the school's patron saint's name in Latin.

Reports of abuse[edit]

On 17 April 2008 it was reported that a former teacher and priest at the school, William Green, had been charged with various counts of indecent assault and indecency with pupils at the school in the 1970s and 1980s (a separate charge related to an incident at a school in Moston).[10] On 21 August Father Green admitted 27 assaults at the school and was told to expect a significant prison sentence. A civil case is now being considered against the Catholic Church who said that the incident was regrettable. The diocese also said that it had co-operated with the police and that safeguards against this happening again had long been in place.[11] Father Green was jailed for a total of thirty years on 30 September but will only serve a maximum of six years as the five terms will run concurrently.[12]

On 15 March 2011 the Manchester Evening News published an article concerning Monsignor Thomas Duggan, who had been Rector at the college during the 1950s and 1960s. It outlined his alleged mental, physical and sexual abuse of pupils at the college at that time.[13] The Salford Diocese has admitted its culpability. Although the Diocese has admitted knowing about Thomas Duggan's actions in an audio recording of the Safeguarding Commission,[14] nothing was done to highlight the actions of the Monsignor.

Notable alumni[edit]

Former students of the school are known as Old Bedians, and the Old Bedians Association organises regular events including an annual dinner and golf tournament. Alumni of the school, led by the games master and former Sale player Des Pastore MBE, founded the Old Bedians Rugby Union Football Club in Chorltonville in 1954.[15] Mr Pastore played a large part in the club's expansion, including the move to its current site at Millgate Lane in Didsbury.[16]


Actors, television personalities, writers and journalists


Politics & Business



See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Tiles and Architectural Ceramics Society Database of Ceramic Locations
  3. ^ History of the college
  4. ^ Gregory, L.R., A History of St Bede's College, Manchester, 2014
  5. ^ "St Bede's College". BBC News. 19 January 2006. 
  6. ^ House of Commons Hansard Debates for 18 Jul 1997 (pt 11)
  7. ^ Manchester Evening News interview, 1974
  8. ^ IMDB Filming Locations
  9. ^ The Tourist's Sherlock Holmes
  10. ^ "Man charged with 28 sex offences". BBC News. 17 April 2008. 
  11. ^ "Priest faces jail for abusing youngsters". South Manchester Reporter (M.E.N. Media). 21 August 2008. 
  12. ^ "Pervert priest jailed". Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media). 1 October 2008. 
  13. ^ Keegan, Mike (15 March 2011). "Church says sorry over St Bede's College sex abuse claims". Manchester Evening News (M.E.N. Media). 
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ Old Bedians RUFC
  16. ^ "Tributes paid to rugby's 'oldest winger'". MEN Media. 16 February 2012. 
  17. ^ "GB team for 2007 World Championships". BBC Sport. 11 August 2007. 

External links[edit]