Spirit of Birkenhead Institute

The History and Heritage of Birkenhead Institute




Having set up this "Spirit of Birkenhead Institute",  (SOBI), site, dedicated to the Birkenhead Institute, in August, 2008, the general response so far seems to have been very favourable, and I have already received some very positive comments, as well as some contributions and items for the site, so thanks to everyone who has sent in these. I would like to thank in particular Dave Forshaw and Alan Jones, who have provided me with some excellent items from the B.I., including some copies of "The Visor" from the late 1950s to early 1960s. These items are rare, but provide an interesting insight into the school at this time.


Please contact the site as per below: Any information or photographs are always welcome! You may call from your candlestick telephone, like the one below, if you wish!

Please leave a message and I shall contact you, so please remember to leave your telephone number or email address!


The number for text messages is:

                         07522 554855 

As you can appreciate, it takes time to research and locate items, as well as update the site, so please bear with me, because I shall add further items to the site as time permits! I have already included many pictures and original items about the Birkenhead Institute which I have in my own personal collection, as well as other items donated to me by the school itself. If you have any more which you would like to add, please send them to me at the email address below.

                                                          [email protected]

This SOBI site is intended to provide items relating to the history of the Birkenhead Institute, and is aimed at Old Instonians, former teachers and staff.  It is really important that the Birkenhead Institute is remembered for its contribution to education and to the Wirral community for over a hundred years from 1889 to 1994.

I have received some excellent items for inclusion in the site recently, and owing to the space required to add these, I have decided to create a dedicated separate site for Visor items and other interesting  B.I. photographs. Please take the time to have a look at this site at:-


Unfortunately, I found it necessary to edit the Visitors' Book in 2009, owing to some offensive comments which had been left there about former Staff of the Birkenhead Institute. This meant that I had to re-set the Visitors' Book, and therefore the previous valid comments were lost. I have now set up a new Visitors' Book which can be easily edited to remove any inappropriate comments. If you wish to leave comments in the Visitors' Book, I encourage you to do so, but please do ensure that all comments are fair, and will not offend any person, or be defamatory to any organisation or to the school. I understand that not everyone will agree that their days at school were pleasant, but please try to restrict any negative remarks to general ones, rather than being specific to a person. Thank you for your help, and hopefully, the Visitors' Book will provide some interesting experiences from you regarding your days at the B.I..

I have also set up a separate site covering the early history of the B.I.  The site is called "Whetsonian", and can be found at:-


November 2008 also saw the 90th Anniversary of the death of Wilfred Owen, one of Birkenhead Institute's most famous pupils. The First World War also ended 90 years ago, and BIOB and The Birkenhead History Society  organised some commemorative events in Birkenhead to remember the life of Wilfred Owen. I have included links to their sites in my LINKS page if you wish to find out more direct from the sites themselves. I feel privileged to have been a pupil at the Birkenhead Institute Grammar School.

 I would like to thank Professor Alan J. Elliott from Bangor University for providing me with some items about former distinguished pupils of the Birkenhead Institute, which can be seen in the Pupils page.


In  2009, the B.I. celebrated 120 years since the Birkenhead Institute was opened in January, 1889. Many thanks to the Wirral Champion for featuring an article in the April 2009 edition about this special celebration for the Birkenhead Institute! If anyone has any memories of the school from the early days to 1994 when the school closed, I will be pleased to hear about them and add them to the site if you wish.

 Here are some reminders of the school, taken from various pages of this site. I have tried to include most of the items from my personal collection, as well as a marvellous school photograph from 1931, donated by Joseen Jones,  which I hope bring back some memories!  More items will be added as soon as I can locate them and scan them in to the computer. Also, I shall be adding more information to the site shortly, and I shall complete the information about the early days of the school from 1889 in due course, so please keep looking for more updates. Any information you have will be welcome! 

As you can see from the Memories page, whilst I was at the B.I., the songs and music of the 1960s remind me of my time at the school. Helen Shapiro and Brenda Lee were both in the charts during the early 1960s, and I have always been reminded of times in my life by the music of that period.

I would like to thank Mr Ken Richards, former Physics Teacher at Birkenhead Institute,  for providing me with the excellent black and white photo below of the old Physics laboratory at the B.I..

I hope that you enjoy your visit to the site, and please keep looking to see the latest additions, and don't forget to tell other staff or pupils from the Birkenhead Institute to pay a visit!


Philip Ronald-Price

(Birkenhead Institute Pupil 1960-1967)






Men of England, who inherit
Rights that cost your sires their blood!
Men whose undegenerate spirit
Has been proved on field and flood,

By the foes you 've fought uncounted,
By the glorious deeds ye 've done,
Trophies captured, breaches mounted,
Navies conquer'd, kingdoms won.

Yet, remember, England gathers
Hence but fruitless wreathes of fame,
If the freedom of your fathers
Glow not in your hearts the same.

What are monuments of bravery,
Whence no public virtues bloom?
What avail in lands of slavery,
Trophied temples, arch and tomb?

Pageants!--Let the world revere us
For our people's rights and laws,
And the breasts of civic heroes,
Bared in Freedom's holy cause.

Yours are Hampden's, Russell's glory,
Sidney's matchless shade is yours,
Martyrs in heroic story,
Worth a hundred Agincourts!

We 're the sons of sires that baffled
Crown'd and mitred tyranny;
They defied the field and scaffold
For their birthrights--so will we!

The above hymn was often sung at Birkenhead Institute Speech Days, and I expect that many BIOBs will remember this!


(Above are the words for "Men of England", by Thomas Campbell.)


Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing,
Thanks for mercies past receive;
Pardon all, their faults confessing;
Time that’s lost may all retrieve;
May Thy children, may thy children
Ne’er again Thy Spirit grieve.

Bless Thou all our days of leisure;
Help us selfish lures to flee;
Sanctify our every pleasure;
Pure and blameless may it be;
May our gladness,may our gladness
Draw us evermore to thee.

By Thy kindly influence cherish
All the good we here have gained;
May all taint of evil perish
By Thy mightier power restrained;
Seek we ever, seek we ever
Knowledge pure and love unfeigned.

Let Thy father-hand be shielding
All who here shall meet no more;
May their seed-time past be yielding
Year by year a richer store;
Those returning, those returning
Make more faithful than before.

Many thanks to Harry Burkett of BIOB for remembering this song, sung at the end of each B.I. term.