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The Liverpool Institute

The Liverpool Institute High School for Boys was an all-boys grammar school in Liverpool. The school had its origins in 1825 but occupied different premises while the money was found to build a dedicated building on Mount Street. The Institute was first known as the Liverpool Mechanics' School of Arts. In 1832 the name was shortened to the Liverpool Mechanics' Institution. Mechanics' Institutes were educational establishments, originally formed to provide adult education, particularly in technical subjects, to working men. As such, they were often funded by local industrialists on the grounds that they would ultimately benefit from having more knowledgeable and skilled employees. The Mechanics institute opened in Liverpool in July 1823 was the first in England.

The Liverpool Institute Mount Street 1835

Liverpool Institute High School for Girls
Blackburne House-circa 1900.
By 1840 the Institution offered evening classes, lectures, a library and a boys' lower and upper school. By the 1850s a formal art school was evolving from the evening classes and in 1856 this diversity was recognised by another name change – The Liverpool Institute and School of Arts. A girl's school was founded & opened in 1844 under the name Liverpool Institute High School for Girls. It was housed in a merchant's mansion across the street from the boys' school in Blackburne House provided by the generosity of Mr. George Holt and which was later (1872) donated to the school by his family in his memory. The school was one of the first which was open to the public in the country established exclusively for the education of girls. In 1905 the Liverpool City Council took over the management of the secondary schools when the Liverpool Institute Board of Governors presented the school and assets to the City. From then until its closure in 1985, the school was formally known as The Liverpool Institute High School for Boys or more familiarly as The Institute or the Inny to its pupils. It was an English grammar school for boys ages 11 to 18 with an excellent academic reputation built up over more than a century. Its list of scholarships and places at Oxford University and Cambridge University runs to some 300 names – in addition to distinctions gained at Liverpool University and at many other prominent British universities. The school was a true measure of Liverpool's intellectual capital and its old boys could and can be found in later life in many fields of professional distinction including: law, the Church, armed forces, politics, academia, government and colonial administration as well as in trade & commerce

Paul McCartney
©Daily Mail
Old Boys of the school are known as Liobians, some of whom became household names. Paul McCartney passed his '11-plus' examination, still then known colloquially in Liverpool as "the scholarship" - even after Grammar school fee payment ended in 1944, and was eligible for a place at a grammar school. His parents had selected The Liverpool Institute as his first choice and he commenced classes there in September 1953. In 1957 he sat his Latin and Spanish 'O-levels' passing the latter. In 1958 he sat an additional six subjects and attained the five passes (including French and German) he needed to enter the Sixth Form. He took three subjects to A Level including: Art, English and Geography and in 1960 passed A level English and Art albeit at an O level. Deciding not to apply for teacher's training college, in July 1960 he left school for the Beatles' first stay in Hamburg. George Harrison passed his entry examination for The Inny and began school in September 1954 (a year after Paul). He left without achieving any formal qualifications in July 1959 for a job as an assistant electrician at Blacklers department store in Liverpool and as a player in the occasional night-time gigs of The Quarrymen, who later became The Silver Beetles, and then The Beatles. Paul's brother, Mike McCartney (stage name Mike McGear in 'The Scaffold') 1955 to 1961. Neil Aspinall, 1953 to 1959 who became the Beatles' road manager in Feb. 1961 and in April 1968 MD of Apple Corp. He left Apple Corps in April 2007. Len Garry, 1954 to 1959, who was a member of 'The Quarrymen'. Ivan Vaughan, a classics sixth former, 1953 to 1960, who introduced Paul McCartney to John Lennon. Les Chadwick, 1954 to 1959, who later became a member of 'Gerry & The Pacemakers'. C.W. (Colin) Manley, 1953 to 1959 and D.M. (Don) Andrew, 1953 to 1959 both became part of The Remo Four, a group later managed by Brian Epstein.

In addition to those mentioned above there were several others who entered into arts, entertainment and politics in the twentieth century:

Bill Kenwright theatre impresario (at school 1957 to 1964),
Peter Sissons broadcaster (at school 1953 to 1961),

Alan Durband (1927 to 1993), a former pupil (1938 to 1944) returned as a teacher (1953 to 1962) after taking a degree at Downing College, Cambridge University. He was one of the founders of the Liverpool Everyman Theatre.
Liverpool Art College

The city's Art College had its origins as part of the Liverpool Institute. In 1883 a new building housing the School of Art was opened around the corner on Hope Street, adjacent to the principal building housing the High School on Mount Street. The Art College by which it was later known, took in talented students often without formal academic credentials (e.g. John Lennon) and the College eventually became one of the four constituent parts of the Liverpool Polytechnic in 1970 and later in 1992 Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).

In 1985 the school was closed by Liverpool Council after two decades of contention, political dispute and very little upkeep of the building fabric. The Labour Party in Liverpool and nationally (Anthony Crosland's Circular of Sept. 1965 requiring that Local Authorities bring forward schemes for comprehensive secondary education) was opposed to selective schools. As grammar school pupils were selected by examination at age 11, there was a long standing push towards 'comprehensive schools' (as non-selective schools were known) from that party when it took majority control of the Council in 1983. Demand for secondary school places in the City had also dropped precipitously and there was a huge oversupply of schools space as Liverpool's population contracted during the severe economic recession of the early 1980s. Ironically perhaps, the Deputy Leader of the Labour (Militant) Group on Council at the time was a former Liverpool Institute schoolboy Derek Hatton who had left without academic distinction in 1964 and allegedly with strong feelings of dislike towards the school. However the man who was Chair of the Educational Committee at the time of the decision to close the school was Dominic Brady, a 24 year old former school caretaker. After closure of the Liverpool Institute for Boys, the building stood empty and neglected, the roof leaking and the walls crumbling.

Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts

In 1987 it was announced that the Liverpool Institute Trust (under control of Liverpool Council's Education Department) would grant use of the building and site to a new educational establishment. Paul McCartney had returned to his old school when with Wings he had played a concert there in 1979. After the school's closure in 1985 McCartney was determined to save the building and replace the school with another type of educational institute - a 'fame school' - to assist students of the dramatic arts. Liverpool Council, who were the controller of the Liverpool Institute Trust established in 1905, agreed to allow LIPA use of the building under a lease which continues to preserve its future for educational purposes. Under McCartney's sponsorship and financial assistance, the building was rebuilt entirely behind its old facade, preserving only the entrance corridor and school hall, and re-opened in 1996 under the name of its new occupants, the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). This all-new institute is currently affiliated with LJMU and is no longer a Liverpool secondary school.

Music and musical performances have been a constant theme throughout the life of the school and the Mount St. building. Annual school Speech Day concerts (held in the fine acoustics of Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool), choirs, the organ, piano, music classes and the singing of daily devotional hymns have echoed around its walls for 170 years and continue to do so at LIPA.


Liverpool Central Library
Liverpool Records Office
Daily Mail

Robert F Edwards

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