Burnley Technical School and Girls’ High School

The idea of technical schools across the country was initially a response to the Great Exhibition of 1851. However, the provision of scientific and technical education was hindered by the rigid class system and its hierarchical nature, which preserved the prevailing elitist culture to be found in public schools and older universities. The managers of industry had yet to be convinced of the value of employing qualified workers or the importance of technical education and training. The gap between the English and overseas countries in regard to technical education continued to grow wider.

In 1867, at the Paris Exhibition, Britain received only twelve awards across the manufacturing categories instead of the overwhelming success in 1851, where Britain received most of them. This was put down to other countries (France, Prussia, Austria, Belgium and Switzerland) having good systems of industrial education for masters and managers of factories and workshops, and England possessing none.

In 1867 a Select Committee, chaired by Bernhard Samuelson, was formed, to enquire into the ‘Provisions for giving Instruction in Theoretical and Applied Science to the Industrial Classes’. They produced some strongly worded recommendations for both primary and secondary education, and the need for colleges and schools for science to be established in centres of industry, to combine theory and practice.

Progress continued to be slow, with lots of rhetoric but not much action. It was not until 1878 that the City and Guilds Institute of London was founded, following the involvement of Livery Companies. The first true technical college in England, in Finsbury Park, was not opened until 1883, based in the technical institutions in Germany and Switzerland. An important distinction between the college and Mechanics’ Institutions was that there was more practical work, rather than just teaching the theoretical aspectsof science and technology.

In 1889, the Technical Instruction Act was finally passed. The need for a national framework for technical education was recognised, in an attempt to halt industrial and manufacturing decline.The Act gave powers to the County Councils and the Urban Sanitary Authorities to levy a penny tax to support technical and manual instruction by: founding schools and appointing teachers; further supporting technical education by making grants to institutions; providing technical education and creating exhibitions and scholarships. The curricula in technical institutions also had to be approved by the Science and Art Department.(A Short History of Technical Education – Richard)
In January 1890, the principle was established of a technical school being ‘desirable’ for Burnley. (Burnley Express 8/1/1890)

In August 1890, a draft scheme was presented by the Directors of the Mechanics’ Institution, which would involve adapting the old municipal buildings in Elizabeth Street. This would take a penny in the pound on the rates, and an annual rate of halfpenny in the pound to maintain it.(Burnley Express 13/8/1890)

Rev JMD Owen is reported to have said that ‘there was hardly any need to speak of the absolute necessity for the institution of technical schools in this country. Competition was growing faster and keener every day, and if the country neglected to inform the brain as well as the hands it would constitute a serious danger. He would be very sorry to see English men and women inferior in any respect to their rivals on the continent and elsewhere. We must instruct the hands and inform the brains or else the day might come when England, instead of occupying the foremost position in the trades and manufactures of the world, might unwillingly be compelled to take a second place’.

The motion was seconded by Mr Hargreaves. A proposal was agreed that science and art instruction would continue at the Mechanics’ Institution, but technical classes in weaving and designing, cotton spinning, carpentry and joinery, and mechanical engineering, would be discontinued in that building and the old municipal buildings be altered and adapted for the special purpose of technical instruction. (Burnley Express 13/8/1890)

On Monday 10th October 1892there was a formal opening ceremony by the mayor (Councillor Parkinson), of the new Technical School in Elizabeth Street. The site of the old baths had been converted to a weaving shed, and use was also made of the basement of the old municipal buildings. At a cost of over £3000, facilities now included a joiners’ shop, plumbing room, oak carving room, laundry and textile areas etc. The school catered for 400 students, giving a total of 900 combined with the Mechanics’ Institution. (Burnley Express 12/10/1892)

By December 1900, proposals had been put forward for a new technical school. There was correspondence supporting its construction on the Piccadilly site. (Burnley Express 12/12/1900)

In December 1903, there was an announcement in the Burnley Gazette that negotiations were taking place between Sir John Thursby and the Education Committee. There now appeared to be every likelihood that a piece of land, fronting Ormerod Road, would be either leased or sold to the Corporation for the building of a new technical school. The proposals were not without their critics – being part of the Bank Hall estate, it was felt that placing a big public building there would ‘rob the grounds’ of the improvements that had recently been made to the walks there. (Burnley Gazette 23/12/1903)

Shortly after this, various committees met to discuss the proposals. There remained concerns about the quality of the foundations at the Piccadilly site, with estimates for the technical school standing around £70000. (Burnley Express 13/2/1904)

In May 1904, the decision was taken to adopt the Ormerod Road site rather than that of Piccadilly Gardens. The Piccadilly site had been strongly supported because it was already the property of the Corporation and in a ‘breezy, healthy situation where a clean, right building could be secured’.However, it was felt that there was actually little difference in the distance of the two sites from the centre of town. The extra costs of the Ormerod Road site were estimated at £1000, and it would have 10000 yards of land instead of 8000 yards at Piccadilly. The Piccadilly site would require excavation and the building of a retaining wall, and it was considered that better foundations would be possible at Ormerod Road. Another consideration was the modification in the price asked for the land. Sir John Thursby agreed to sell the 10000 yards required for £3000 (although the Burnley Express of 14th May states that it was £5000).

The capacity of the school would be doubled, with 300-400 students during the day, and 1500 at evening classes. (Burnley Gazette 14/5/1904)

The proposal was approved by the Education Committee on 20th May. (Burnley Express 21/5/1904)
At a meeting of the town council on 1st June 1904, a report was presented to the General Purposes Committee by the chairman of the Education Committee, Alderman T Thornber. The report stated that the land in question was situated on the north west side of Ormerod Road, with a frontage of 360 ft, a depth of 250 ft, and containing an area of 9650 sqyds or thereabouts.

The terms of the sale by Sir John Thursby were as follows:

  1. the price for the freehold to be £5000
  2. the corporation to repay Sir John a proportionate amount of the street-making expenses in respect of Ormerod Road, estimated at £296
  3. the lower parts of the windows of the buildings which may overlook the Bank Hall grounds to made opaque
  4. the minerals below the surface of the site not to be ‘gotten’ and a sufficient area of support to be left round the plot of land intended to be sold
  5. elevations of the proposed buildings to be submitted to Sir John for approval.

Comparative costings showed that the Ormerod Road site was £1918 more than the Piccadilly Gardens site, but the report considered that the advantages were worth the extra: a) a greater area available b) easier access from the centre of town c) closer proximity to the Grammar School d) better tramway facilities.

The Council authorised the purchase of the land from Sir John Thursby. (Burnley Express 4/6/1904). A few days later, it was noted in ‘Local Notes’ that members of the Education Committee were busying themselves with regard to the new Technical School, so much so that ‘one gentleman has expressed a fear that if they continue to devote so much time to the subject they may break down under the strain’. The decision had apparently been almost finalised about the nature of the building – it was to be formed into three sides of a square, with workshops extending as far as necessary behind the main block, and to be lighted by roof lights similar to those of weaving sheds. (Burnley Express 11/6/1904)

Following the decision, there continued to be discussions about who the architect would be. Mr Bell had previously won the prize for the Piccadilly site, Mr Quarmby for a higher grade school in Ormerod Road – would they have any moral claim for consideration? Various reports in the newspapers suggest that Alderman Thornber considered Mr Bell’s proposals at £70000 too expensive. There was finally agreement by the Education Committee that Mr Pickles, the Borough Surveyor, should be appointed as architect, with fees and terms to be decided. It was noted, however, that local architects were not invited to submit plans, and that Mr Pickles, while ‘doubtless capable in every way’, was not a professional architect. (Burnley Express 25/6/1904)

There continued to be delays, both in the purchase of the land and the appointment of an architect, but in December 1904 it was announced that Mr Pickles would be the architect and that his special fees would be £600.(Burnley Express 14/12/1904)

Although there continued to be some debate about the appointment of Mr Pickles, his draft plans were inspected by the Advisory Committee in April 1905. It was resolved that these be approved and adopted, and Mr Pickles be instructed to proceed with detailed drawings. The accommodation was to provide 16 classrooms on the basement and principal floors for 565 pupils, domestic rooms on the principal floor for 82 pupils, laboratories on the first floor and basement for 225 pupils, workshops in the basement for 144 pupils, art rooms on the first floor and basement for 260 pupils, and also a weaving shed and gymnasium. (Burnley Express 22/4/1905)

In May 1905, it was announced that the Education Committee had agreed on a scheme forsecondary education. They recommended the establishment of two schools – one for boys in the Grammar School, one for girls in the new Technical School. Pupil teachers, who were mainly girls, would be attached to the girls’ school, and the girls now in the Grammar School would transfer to the Girls’ Secondary School. ‘Burnley parents will now have the prospect, long overdue, long wished for, of a first class secondary school, to which they can send their girls for a girls’ education’. It was noted that the admission of the girls to the Grammar School had been ‘experimental and cannot be recognised as quite a success’. It was also noted that the application for borrowing £5500 for the purchase of the Ormerod Road land and incidental expenses was approved. (Burnley Express 27/5/1905)

In June 1905, the scheme was recommended for adoption, following discussion of the merits of single sex education at secondary level. ‘When a girl reaches the age of 14 she has to be unduly pushed to keep up with the boys, or the boys have to be retarded. Further, the life of a girl of that age is such that it is not desirable she should be pressed hard in school work.’ It was also felt that ‘the education of a girl should be somewhat different to that of a boy to fit her for the life she would have to live afterwards’. (Burnley Gazette 24/6/1905)

There continued to be debate over the costs involved and the impact it would have on the rates. Plans and costs were presented to the Council in December 2005. Costs were estimated at £50000 exclusive of the land: the new building and shed £40000, retaining and boundary walls, street, paving of yards, furnishing motors, shafting, machinery and appliances etc £10000. The buildings were to be designed to allow for future extension. It was not expected to exceed 2d in the £ on the rates, which would include cleaning and maintenance. It was noted that the classrooms at the Mechanics Institution had been condemned a long time ago by HM Inspector as unsuitable and that the erection of a new building should take place as soon as possible. (Burnley Express 9/12/1905)

In March 1906, the plans were received back from the Board of Education and were approved as broadly satisfactory but several improvements and alterations in the details were suggested, these being in regard to the art section of the school. (Burnley Express 17/6/1906)

In August 1906, an artists’ impression of the building, and detailed plans, were published in the papers. There would be a frontage to Ormerod Road of 236 ft and 118ft to Shorey Bank. There would be accommodation for 736 day scholars, and 1351 evening students in theoretical and practical science, art and technology. The buildings would total 51727 sq ft.

There would be a shed of 9380 sq ft. at the back of the main building which was to incorporate a spinning and weaving shed, plumbing, painting, woodworking, clay modelling, building construction and mechanical engineering areas, a mechanical and physics laboratory and stores.
The three storey building was to be of parpoints with stone dressings, the walls of the corridors would be tiled to dado height, and the lavatories and cloakrooms tiled throughout. The floors throughout would be finished with wood blocks.

On the ground floor of the main building there would be a classroom, gymnasium (1296 sq ft.), dressing room, workshop lecture room, physics laboratory and lecture room, photometric room, two natural science laboratories, science lecture room, textile room and preparation rooms.

The principal floor would consist of an assembly hall (1680 sq ft.), eleven classrooms, dining room, cookery and laundry rooms and administrative rooms.

On the first floor would be an elementary, advanced and honours chemical laboratory, balance, preparation and lecture rooms, painting and drawing, modelling design and antique painting. On the second floor was to be a life room. (Burnley Gazette 25/8/1906)

By November 1906, tenders were being invited for the various work required for the building. Drawings, specifications etc, could be seen at the offices of the Borough Engineer, Mr Pickles, on payment of one guinea, which would be returned on receipt of a bona fide tender. All tenders were requested to be submitted by 9am on Saturday 22nd December. (Burnley Express, Burnley Gazette, 17/11/1906)

In January 1907, the tenders for the different aspects of the building work, which were being recommended for acceptance, were published. Excavator, concretor, drainer, bricklayer and mason:

  • Mullen and Durkin, Burnley……..£18974 0s 0d
  • Ironwork: HJ&A Coulthurst, Darwen……….£1850 0s 0d
  • Slating: Ormerod Whitaker, Burnley……..£1070 8s 2d
  • Plastering: JW Pickup, Burnley………………£841 8s 7d
  • Plumbing: A Fyfe, Burnley……………………£3386 7s 6d
  • Painting: J Smith & Sons, Burnley…………£863 11s 10d
  • Heating: Unity Wood & Iron Co, Padiham..£1210 0s 0d J
  • oiner and carpenter: Robert Brown & Sons, Burnley….£5635 0s 0d
  • Estimated cost of floors, wood blocking, lighting, fire appliances, plant etc, street expenses, furniture, motors and shafting……£13000 0s 0d

Total ……….. £46831 15s 7d
(Burnley Express, 23/1/1907, Burnley Gazette, 26/1/1907)

In April 1907, it was announced that the following loan repayments, all with interest, had been sanctioned by the authorities in London: 1) £46340 in respect of the buildings, to be repaid within 30 years 2) £3500 in respect of the cost of furniture, to be repaid within 15 years 3) £160 in respect of the street works, to be repaid within 20 years (Burnley Gazette, 17/4/1907)

Building commenced, and, throughout 1908, the Council meeting minutes provided updates on the progress of different aspects.By March 1909, Mr Pickles could ‘see no reason why the building should not be completed in time for the next autumn session.’ (Burnley Express, 24/3/1909)

By the end of April 1909, much of the plastering and internal work was completed, and it was ready for the installation of the wood block floors and furnishing. The boundary wall, railings and planting were almost finished, and the construction team were in a position to remove the boarding on Ormerod Road. (Burnley Express, 28/4/1909)

In June 1909, Councillor Thornber told the Council that the Clerk had advertised for a lady Principal for the new High School for Girls, at a commencing salary of £250, rising by annual increments of £10 to a maximum of £300. Around 40-50 applications were in, and a ‘cursory examination’ indicated that they appeared satisfactory, and he felt that they would be able to select a lady suitable for the post.

Tenders had been accepted in relation to the electrical installation, including a series of porters’ lights throughout the building, and for internal furnishings and fittings, such as benches, blackboards, drawing desks and clocks.
Questions were raised about the costs, and why the electrical tender accepted at £1425 was not quite the lowest. AldermanThornber gave the following information about the tender: They had succeeded in getting inserted into it a rather valuable item. They had always found that there was a tendency where they could switch on all the lights in a room at once to a considerable waste of electric current. In that contract was included a subsidiary supply which would enable two lights to be put on in every room and corridor without turning on the main current. Before people assembled for classes the main current could be kept off, and the cleaners and caretakers would still be able to work with just a couple of lights.

Further discussion ensued, particularly as it was felt that some electrical work previously carried out in Burnley had not been carried out properly. (Burnley Express 26/6/1909)

The Burnley Gazette published a picture of the new technical school in July 1909, with the prediction that it would be ‘one of the best equipped in Lancashire’, and ‘from an educational view will be on the very latest principle’. With its opening, the science, art and technological classes now at the Mechanics Institute and the old Technical School in Elizabeth Street would be transferred. The old site would be available to the Corporation and could well form the site of the first Free Library in Burnley. The new Technical School was to be opened by Alderman Thornber, chair of the Burnley Education Committee, and the ceremony would be presided over by the Mayor, Alderman Hough.

In the same article, pictures and information were printed about the new Principal of the Technical School, Mr Thomas Crosland, BSc. He was originally from Sheffield, and had been headmaster of the Pupil Teachers’ Centre in Burney for the past 8 ½ years. He had also been secretary to the Burnley Literary and Scientific Club, and honorary secretary to the Burnley and District Educational Council.

A picture was also published of the new Principal of the High School for Girls, Miss Louisa Jane Wood. (Burnley Gazette, 31.7.1909)

Miss Wood originated from Tyneside and had been educated at Gateshead High School, one of the earlier of the Girls’ Public Day School Trust schools. She gained a Mathematical Tripos at Newnham College, Cambridge, and was later awarded an MA from Dublin University. Before coming to Burnley, she had taught Mathematics and English at Howell’s School, Llandaff, had lectured at Edge Hill Training College, Liverpool, and had been Senior Mistress in the Municipal Secondary School in Bolton. She was one of seven applicants for the post in Burnley to be interviewed and was unanimously appointed. She was keen that there would be a balance between literature and science and that the education would be liberal. Serving the community was an important element in her teaching.

Miss Wood tried to see the High School established in its own premises, but in the economic circumstances of the 1920s this proved impossible. She retired from the High School in August 1930. (‘Who was Who in Burnley – Some Burnley People of the Past’, edited by Margaret Jones, 1997)

In August 1909, it was reported that a letter had been received from Mr Crosland, concerning his salary, described by Councillor Clough as ‘impertinent, dictational and disrespectful to the Committee’. The letter was read out: ‘I feel that they have not fully realised the very great responsibility which will be entailed by the position, and the difficult and arduous nature of the duties involved, or they would not have attached to the position a remuneration, which, in the experience of those experienced in technical school work, is so inadequate.’

Discussion took place and comparisons were made with institutions in other towns. It was also revealed that he had been offered the post at an initial salary of £300, without throwing it open to general competition, when ‘he would have stood great risk of not getting the appointment.’ Some councillors were of the opinion that the letter was ‘most uncalled for’, ‘in the highest degree insulting to the intelligence of the Committee.’

When questioned about what would happen if Mr Crosland decided not to take up the post, it was simply stated that they would ‘advertise and get a better man,’ and ‘the matter then dropped.’ (Burnley Express 7/8/1909)

On 11th September 1909, the building was opened. The Burnley Express printed a full page article, together with pictures, which outlined historical information relating to the Mechanics’ Institution, a summary of the processes which had led to the new school, and a description of the building, from which the following quotations are taken.
‘…practically a hundred rooms, and some of these are very large and commodious…’
‘…From the Shorey bank side access can be obtained to the basement without going down any steps, whilst by the main entrance in Ormerod Road the principal floor is at once reached…’
‘…The slope from the street has been planted with plants and shrubs to relieve the effect of so large a stone structure, and also with a view to screening the lower windows from the gaze of people passing along the road…’
‘…Over the main entrance are two large figures symbolising science and art. The entrance vestibule and hall are very imposing. They are carried out in tile work, the floor of the vestibule being of glass mosaic, said to be the first to be introduced into the town. The design of the walls in the entrance hall is of the arcade style, the mains being in green, while the frieze is of ivory hue, and the skirtings and panels are in leaf green. Portions of the design are filled in with glass mosaic, the effect being exceedingly pretty, and the ceiling, of cream, is in entire harmony with the whole scheme, further enhanced as is its beauty by rich stained glass windows facing the door…’
‘…Even a bicycle shed is provided for the use of student wheelers. This is under the main entrance, and the mention of it reminds one that close at hand are the steps leading to the cellar. Here, to heat the building, are three sectional boilers, very much like those to be seen on board a ship. These can be worked singly or in conjunction with each other. Besides, there is an excellent apparatus for the supplying of boiling water to the different class and lecture rooms, this being for consumption or for the cookery and other housewifery classes, and also for experimental purposes. The institution is lit by electricity, so that of necessity for so huge an establishment there is a large electric distribution board…the board is so well equipped that a novice can operate it without fear of receiving an electric shock…’

‘…Not only do all the rooms admit of the maximum amount of daylight, but they have also ample means of ventilation, not only from the windows, but also from the long corridors down which sweeps a goodly current of air when the outside doors are flung open. Moreover, provision is made for the ridding of the rooms of the bad air as it ascends towards the ceiling, this being done by means of an electrical apparatus in a small and separate brick structure perched on the very top of the rear part of the institute, the mission of this apparatus being to suck the polluted air along what are called ducts…’

‘…Up here, too, are a couple of large balconies, from one of which especially a lovely panoramic view is to be obtained of Bank Hall grounds and of the country beyond…’

‘…Hard by is a hot-house, where plants may be reared and kept for the use of the art students in painting from still life, and also for the classes in botany. The art students, we fancy, in the warm summer weather, will have the use of one or other of the balconies. There the Rubens in embryo will be able not only to paint from the copy, but he will also have the opportunity of turning his attention to the landscape, and to some of those beautiful sunsets with which old Pendle is always so conspicuously present. Whilst on the balconies one cannot miss the dome, for it is close at hand. Constructed of oak, it is an object worthy of note…’

‘…Tiles and glazed brickwork are much made use of throughout the building, lending themselves as they do to greater cleanliness, and consequently are more conducive to health than merely painted rooms and corridors, which only harbour dirt and filth, for they cannot be cleaned with the same facility and thoroughness that the tile-covered or glazed-brick walls can…’

‘…Special care has been taken to have the rooms adapted in every way possible for the purposes to which they are to be devoted. The chemical laboratory, for instance, is an ideal place. It is exceedingly lofty, so that the vapours and fumes arising from the working of experiments will soon be carried away. Moreover, inset in the floor, which is of concrete, are trenches into which the waste fluids will be run direct from the stands into the downspouts outside…’

‘…the art rooms…are splendidly lighted with huge windows, the framework of which is of iron, the sections being small to preclude the possibility of shadows being cast in any direction…’

‘…all the scientific lecture rooms are fitted with galleries, so that all the students will, without difficulty, be able to see whatever demonstration the teacher is giving…’

The article also outlined the arrangements for the opening day itself, to which members of the public were not invited, as the ‘work as yet has been by no means completed’:

‘At 3 o’clock, members of the Town Council and Education Committee are to assemble at the main entrance. Alderman T Thornber will be presented with a “handsome key”, will open the door, then the public men and others invited will be admitted. A meeting will be held in the assembly hall, presided over by the mayor, Alderman Hough, to declare the institute open and to give votes of thanks etc.’

Photos were printed and tributes were paid to Mr Pickles and to the special sub-committee – Cllr Sharp Thornber, Alderman E Keighley, Cllr CM Foden, Mr T Pritchard, also Mr E Jones, Clerk to the Education Committee.

‘It will be a proud day for the gentleman who, because of his assiduous and self-sacrificing labours in the educational welfare of the town, has been assigned the pleasurable task of declaring the building open.’ (Burnley Express, 11/9/1909)

In the same edition of the Burnley Express, on 11thSeptember 1909, the opening of the new High School for Girls was announced: ‘County Borough of Burnley Education Committee High School for Girls, Ormerod Road Principal: Miss L J Wood MA
The school will open on Monday 13th September 1909 at 9.00 am. The Principal will be glad to receive applications for admission between 9 and 12 am and from 1.45 to 4 pm. Fees (payable in September, January and April): £1 1s per term. Copies of the prospectus can be obtained at the Education Office, Town Hall. E Jones, Clerk to the Committee’ (Burnley Express, 8/9/1909)
On the following Saturday, more details were published:

‘Next Monday, following the formal opening of the Technical Institute, the new high school for girls will make its commencement.’

The curriculum was to include instruction in English language and literature, geography and history, French, German and Latin, arithmetic and mathematics, physical and natural science, domestic subjects (cookery, laundry, needlework, household management, hygiene), drawing, class singing and physical exercises.
Religious instruction of an ‘undenominational character’ would also be given. Pupils could be excused from attendance at these lessons and morning prayers, if a written letter of application was sent to the Principal from the pupil’s parent or guardian.

The full school course was to extend over four years, and no pupils could be exempted from the full curriculum or be permitted to take part in external examinations until the end of the third year. Preparatory classes were to be provided for pupils between 10 and 12 years old, with the secondary course beginning at 12 years old. A declaration, signed by each parent or guardian, was required, promising attendance for at least two years from that time.

Fees were to be £1 1s per term (paid in September, January and April) or £3 3s per year. Fees would cover the cost of all tuition, including the provision of stationery and other school apparatus or equipment, but excluding printed books, mathematical instruments and apparatus for sports.

Staff appointed:
Principal – Miss L J Wood (Newnham College, Cambridge , mathematical tripos, and MA Dublin) Form mistresses – Miss M Allen BSc Wales Miss M Cowpe BA Wales Miss E Farrar Miss F A Heap BA Victoria Miss E Midgley BA Liverpool Miss A Rawcliffe BA London Miss A E Whitaker BA Wales Teacher of science – Mr R H Stevens BSc Victoria Teacher of art – Mr W H Hey (assisted by Miss Dunkerley and Miss F G Hey) Teacher of English and mathematics – Mr G A Wood MA Wales Also teachers in music, drill and domestic subjects.
‘Of the school rules, the following are worthy of note – (3) Pupils are expected to do homework and if this be neglected, a written explanation must be sent by the parent or guardian. (4) Every pupil is expected to take part in the physical exercises and organised games: if exemption from these is to be permanent, a medical certificate must be produced. (5) The report on the progress and conduct of each pupil will be sent to the parent or guardian at the end of each term.’ (Burnley Express 11/9/1909)

The Technical Institute itself was opened on 11th September 1909: ‘Burnley is at last in the possession of a technical institute of its own. Not only is it ornamental, but its equipment, when fully completed, will be of the most efficient and up to date order. Burnley will have one of the best technical schools in the county’.

Various quotes from Mr Harris HMI and Cllr S Thornber paid tribute to the fact that, previously, students at the Mechanics Institution had also been successful, and that buildings and equipment were not everything. ‘Real grit, perseverance, and spirit that is not daunted by difficulties, together with the stimulus and encouragement and example of teachers, these are the qualities that have brought success in the past, and will inevitably being success in the future.’ (Burnley Express 15/9/1909)

Further details were published the following week. ‘In the splendid new building in Ormerod Road, where every convenience has been provided for the study of the various branches of science and technology, along with commercial and domestic subjects, a thoroughly progressive scheme will be put into operation.’
49 courses were in place, so it was expected that every student would find one suited to their individual needs, with the Principal willing to make modifications where desirable and possible. Fees were 6s and 7s 6d for a full course, the latter for more advanced courses. Where official courses were not followed, the students were to pay for single subjects.

It was also noted that the Burnley School of Art, which had been in the Mechanics Institution for the past 30 years, and under the direction of Mr W H Hey since 1876, would also now be moved to the Technical School. (Burnley Express 18/9/1909)

  • References:
  • Burnley Express 1890-1909
  • Burnley Gazette 1890-1909
  • A Short History of Technical Education, Ch7&8, posted by Richard on ‘Technical Education Matters’ on 17/6/2009
  • Who Was Who in Burnley, Some Burnley People of the Past, ed. Margaret Jones 1997