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News > School > Respecting 125 Years of Campbell College

Respecting 125 Years of Campbell College

On this day 125 years ago, Campbell College Belfast first opened its doors.

3 Sep 2019
On this day 125 years ago - 3rd September 1894 - Campbell College Belfast first opened its doors.  To mark the occasion the College partnered with the Belfast International Tattoo to welcome a multitude of Pipes and Drums from around the world to its East Belfast Campus – including pipers from as far afield as Australia. In addition, as a mark of respect for the hundreds of Old Campbellians who lost their lives in conflicts across the world, Belfast City Hall will be lit in Campbell green tonight - the colour representing the Old Campbellian community.  Pupils and staff will also be presented with a 125 Commemorative Coin.
The College’s Pipe band was joined by The National Youth Pipe Band of Australia along with bands such as The Ulster Scots Juvenile Pipe Band, the Cleland Memorial Pipe Band, the Gilnahirk Pipe Band and the Major Sinclair Memorial Pipe Band as they play together in celebration.
The College was founded with a bequest from linen merchant, Henry James Campbell whose desire it was to build a school that would deliver a liberal education.  Starting as a day and boarding school, Campbell has continued as such and still attracts boarding pupils from across the world with 150 of its 1200 strong cohort hailing from 30 different countries across the globe.

125 years of Campbell College history includes many stories of success and hardship.  The College’s Central Hall was one of the multiple locations where the Ulster Covenant was signed on 28 September 1912. The College lost hundreds of pupils in both World Wars and in World War II the school buildings were requisitioned by the war office as a hospital with pupils transferred to Portrush.  On 1st June 1951 the Queen Elizabeth (laterally the Queen Mother) and Princess Margaret (deputising for King George VI) visited Campbell to present the College with the Royal Charter in recognition of this sacrifice.  The College motto Ne Obliviscaris ("Do Not Forget") remains to this day and was most evident in 2018 when the College marked the centenary of the end of WW1 with a poignant heritage project entitled, ‘The Men Behind the Glass’ remembering the 126 pupils and one member of staff who died in WWI.

The College boasts many notable alumni including; Nobel Laureate Professor William Campbell; VC recipients Edmund De Wind and William John English;  author C.S. Lewis; film director, Mark Huffam; rugby legends Mike Gibson, (Ireland,  British and Ireland Lions), Gordon Hamilton, (Ireland), Chris Farrell (Ireland) and Paddy Wallace (Ireland); Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody and Jonny Quinn; journalists John Irvine, Gordon Burns and Noel Thompson and many more.

Commenting on the 125th celebrations, Headmaster Robert Robinson, MBE stated.  “We have been hosting a number of events to mark our 125th year and have more to come.  Today is about remembering those that have gone before and, as we do so, looking forward to the next 125 years. Ensuring that we stay true to the ethos that Henry James Campbell envisaged - that of building men of character who will contribute to the world around them.  I look forward to hearing the cacophony of pipes and drums as we pay tribute to this wonderful College.”


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