St Mary's College, Crosby

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St Mary's College
St Mary's College, Crosby.jpg
Motto "Fidem vita fateri"
(Latin: Show your faith by the way you live)
Established 1919
Type Independent day school
Religion Roman Catholic
Principal Mr M Kennedy
Chairman of Governors Mr C J Cleugh
Location Everest Road

L23 5TW
Local authority Sefton
Students 766 (2011)
Gender Coeducational
Ages 2–18

St Mary's College is an independent Roman Catholic coeducational school in Crosby, Merseyside, about 11 km north of Liverpool. It comprises an early years department "Bright Sparks" (age 4 and under), preparatory school known as "The Mount" (age 4-11) and secondary school with a 6th Form (age 11-18). It was formerly a direct grant grammar school for boys, founded and controlled by the Christian Brothers order. Notable alumni include John Birt, Roger McGough, Tony Booth and Cardinal Vincent Nichols.

Founding and affiliation[edit]

The college was established as a boys' school in 1919 by the Irish Christian Brothers, a clerical order founded by Blessed Edmund Rice in the early nineteenth century.

The college became a direct grant grammar school in 1946[1] as a result of the 1944 Education Act. Post-war alumni describe "a heavy emphasis on rote learning and testing, underpinned by the brutal punishment that the Christian Brothers favoured",[2] "the carrot-and-stick method—without the carrot",[3] "a hard, disciplined education ...generous with the strap".[4] "But it wasn't a bad school; they took working-class Catholic boys, gave them an education and got them to university,"[5] "the school was good, and still is",[4] and "the sixth form at St Mary's was an altogether different experience".[2] An article was published in The Guardian in 1998 surrounding alleged sexual abuse at the college. 10 years on the school have yet to make a statement on these allegations.[6]

When direct grants were abolished by the 1974–79 Labour government St Mary's became an independent school[7] and is a member of the HMC. It began teaching girls in the sixth form in 1983 and became fully co-educational in 1989. The college is now administered by laypersons, ceasing to be a Christian Brothers' school in January 2006 on becoming an independent charity (St Mary's College Crosby Trust Limited) that "exists to educate children and welcomes families from all faiths".[8]

Location and buildings[edit]

St Mary's College is based in Crosby, a suburb of Liverpool, in the Metropolitan Borough of Sefton. The college originally comprised a mansion, Claremont House,[9] on Liverpool Road, Crosby and the neighbouring property, Everest House, until the purpose-built school was built on Everest Road in 1924. Science blocks were added over the years and an assembly hall in 1978. Claremont House is now occupied by the early years department. The Mount preparatory school is located a short distance away in Blundellsands.[10]

The college has its own multi-gym and sports hall, formerly the Mecca Bingo Hall on Liverpool Road, which is open for public use as well as to the students. There are seven laboratories, two workshops and a library. In 2005 a new Sixth Form Centre was built, consisting of a new common room (including a cafe and vending machines) and two computer rooms. Until 1987, the college had a smoking room for the use of Sixth Form pupils who were smokers.

20 acres (81,000 m2) of playing fields are sited nearby on Little Crosby Road.


Exam results consistently exceed national averages achieved by state funded schools,[11] The school aims to develop the person as a whole, not just academically but in many areas: spiritual, moral, intellectual, physical and cultural.[12]

The school song[edit]

The former School Song,[13] composed in the 1920s by music master Frederick R. Boraston (1878–1954) was sung by former pupils, most notably at the annual Speech Day, which were once held at Liverpool's Philharmonic Hall.

The song is written as a march, with repeated crotchet notes in the opening melody. The unusual seven-bar phrases, and alternating major and minor keys, produce a feeling that is at once rousing and wistful. The words anticipate the day we leave school, and the "broad highway of Life" lies before us. We look forward to reaping "a golden harvest not yet sown", but shall "sometimes pause a moment" to think of yesterday, and the old school and its associations will find a place in our hearts "most wondrous kind". Thoughts of games, songs, and the friends we made give way to thanks that the school has taught us wisdom in both thought and deed. In the soaring finale, pupils past and present raise their voices to cheer St Mary's, and wish her long life, with the repeated Latin exclamation Vivat!

In the 1980s the song was replaced with a completely new song, with words more in tune with the School's co-educational, lay-teacher status.[citation needed]

Notable former teachers[edit]

Notable former pupils[edit]

Politics and industry[edit]

Diplomats and the law[edit]


Authors, journalists and broadcasters[edit]


  • D. F. Swift, educationist, sociologist[33]



  • James Patten, composer[36]
  • Pete Lyon, computer graphics games design pioneer

Sportsmen and women[edit]

  • Mick Murphy - Rugby League footballer; played for Wales, Bradford Northern and Wagga Wagga.
  • Francesca Halsall - British Olympic Freestyle and Butterfly Swimmer.[37]
  • John Cain - A second row forward with Waterloo was capped and played for England in that position in the early 1950s.[38] He was employed by Barclays Bank.
  • Ralph Rensen - Grand Prix motorcycle racer was killed in the I.O.M Senior TT on his Norton in 1961.
  • Trent Alexander Arnold - Footballer for Liverpool F.C.


Alumni association[edit]

St Mary's Old Boys' Club pictured shortly after its closure by Sefton Council in April 2010

The college had an alumni association, St Mary's Old Boys' Club,[42] from 1948 until links were severed due to a scandal and resulting court case, Stringer v. Usher, Smith, Flanagan and Fleming.[43]

The club carried on under the name of St Mary's Old Boys' Club. A further court case, Stringer v. Smith and Shaw followed in 2000 when the committee attempted to change the club's constitution to allow illegal functions at the club premises. Again the committee capitulated, incurring £3000 in costs. In 2000 and 2004[44] Merseyside Police raised objections to the continuance of the club on the grounds that it was 'improperly run' and for 'blatant disregard' of the licensing laws. Additionally, the Police did not believe the club was operating as a 'bona fide' members club.[45] In March 2010 St Mary's Old Boys' Club closed when the police revoked its licence on the grounds that it was not a bona fide club operated in good faith. Simultaneously, the former club trustees found themselves being sued by their landlords for £72,000 of unpaid rent dating back to 2005.[46]

In fiction[edit]

While not explicitly mentioned by name, Anthony Burgess's posthumous novel, Byrne, makes reference to the Christian Brothers, and Crosby; the author had relatives who attended the school, although Burgess himself was educated by the Jesuits.[47]


  1. ^
  2. ^ a b John Birt (15 October 2002). "I felt ill at ease with well-to-do people". The Times. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  3. ^ Jonathan Sale (18 March 1999). "Passed/Failed: Roger McGough". The Independent. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  4. ^ a b Emily Moore interviewing Will Hanrahan (5 January 1999). "New class barriers". The Guardian. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  5. ^ Pamela Coleman interviewing Roger McGough (30 November 2001). "My best teacher". Times Educational Supplement. Retrieved 9 May 2009. 
  6. ^
  7. ^
  8. ^ "Introduction". St Mary's College, Crosby. Retrieved 10 May 2009. 
  9. ^ the property was originally owned by the wealthy de Costa family, Liverpool shipowners and Unionist sympathisers during the American Civil War. American eagles can still be seen engraved on the gateposts of the house.
  10. ^ Crosby Herald, Feb. 1963, from Friends of St. Mary's website
  11. ^ BBC Education League Tables: St Mary's College, Crosby
  12. ^ Official College website
  13. ^ School Song
  14. ^ "Obituary: Hugh Rank". 15 December 2006. 
  15. ^ 156 Squadron Aircrew details
  16. ^ a b British Microlight Aircraft Association photo
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h i Who's Who 2012
  18. ^ Crosby Herald 16 February 1989 from Friends of St. Mary's website
  19. ^ Islington council press release
  20. ^ Obit. Nautilus International Report 2011
  21. ^ Obit. The Guardian, 30 May 2010
  22. ^ Daily Telegraph 25 March 2009
  23. ^ [1]British Influence
  24. ^ Obit. Oxford Today, 2013
  25. ^ Obit. The Times, 4 November 2013
  26. ^ Obit. The Guardian, 13 Nov 2014
  27. ^ "How St Mary's drove me to succeed". Retrieved 23 May 2009. 
  28. ^ "Remembering excellence - eventually" (PDF). Retrieved 1 September 2009. 
  29. ^ Kevin Dunn biography from zoominfo
  30. ^ ITN's top forty videos
  31. ^ Crosby Herald 24 April 2008
  32. ^ BBC biography
  33. ^ Obituary The Independent, 28 January 1997
  34. ^ Obituary The Stage, 29 November 2010
  35. ^ Obit. The Telegraph, 8 January 2015
  36. ^ [2] obit., The Guardian
  37. ^ St Mary's College website Archived 14 January 2013 at
  38. ^ Gleanings 1949 college magazine
  39. ^ St. Mary's College Yearbook 1934[permanent dead link] pp 15,35,37,39
  40. ^ Liverpool Daily Post 9 September 2002
  41. ^ Daily Mail 22 March 2010
  42. ^ The legal name of the club was changed to St Mary's College Association in 1987, under pressure from the School to reflect its now co-educational status. Few, if any, female pupils joined, and the club remained known by its former name, and colloquially as The Old Boys.
  43. ^ School to 'divorce' club, Crosby Herald, 20 May 1999
  44. ^ Axe threat to historic club, Crosby Herald, 14 October 2004
  45. ^ Old boys' club ticked off, Crosby Herald, 18 November 2004
  46. ^ Creditors swoop on St. Mary's ex-Trustees as Sefton Council confiscate license Crosby Herald, 8 April 2010
  47. ^ Byrne, Chapter I, by Anthony Burgess, 1996

External links[edit]