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Chapter 10: Grammar School House

Mr. Douglas G. Miller, replying as Rector to the Toast to the School at the celebratory 1923 Dinner, was the first to suggest the concept of a Boarding House. He and the then President of the Club, Alexander T. Cruickshank (1882-87), met with the Executive and explained a scheme which had been discussed by a few interested FPs. The Executive agreed that the establishment by the Club of a Boarding House in connection with the School was highly desirable, and that the scheme explained to them appeared to be feasible. A Committee was appointed to investigate the matter and it reported in February 1928 that two adjoining houses in Queen’s Road, which would provide the desired accommodation, were obtainable. It recommended that their purchase and adaptation should be financed by the formation of a limited liability company, in which the Club would invest £1,000 of its funds. The report was adopted and the company was formed. No. 8 Queen’s Road was at once purchased, and “Grammar School House” (to give it its official title) was opened for business at the start of the School session in September 1928. No. 8½ Queen's Road was bought in 1929, the two houses were united in 1930, and in 1934 an extra wing was opened. Finally, in 1937, No. 6 was acquired as a Junior House.

The FP Club held almost a third of the shares in the Boarding House Company and appointed three of the seven directors; the Rector was a director ex officio, and the other three directors were all FPs. Pre-1939 there were on average 60 boys in residence each year, but post-war the numbers dropped, partly because of uncertainty about the Town Council’s policy on the future of the School and, in particular, following the abolition of fees in 1947, what the Council’s attitude would be to the admission of boys whose homes were not in the City. In 1954 numbers had fallen to 50, and at the start of the session 1955-56 to 37. Against this background the directors had closed the Junior House in 1954, but by the autumn of 1955 it was clear that the Company could not expect to continue to trade at a profit. Any increase in fees would have had to be so large as to be self-defeating, and the directors took the decision to close. A Special Meeting of the Company held on 28th October 1955 resolved to close the Boarding House at the end of the School session on 30th June 1956, and thereafter to sell the property and other assets of the Company. From a financial point of view, the Club shareholding was realised at a figure not very different from its balance sheet valuation. A special chapter in the history of the School and the Club was thus closed.

There was for a number of years a Boarding House Section of the Club comprising former Boarders, but this sadly fell gradually by the wayside and was wound up some years ago. Any account of the history of Grammar School House would be incomplete without mention of two names which are for ever part of that history – Mr. James Eddison, the Housemaster in charge from the House’s inception until he left the School on promotion, and Mr. William P. Stewart who was, for many years until his untimely death in 1947, the assistant Housemaster. This is said without any disrespect to those who followed them and who gave similar dedicated service.

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