Heritage Guide to The Geelong College

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The School magazine, Pegasus refers to the relationship between Campbell College in Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the Geelong College as commencing in 1914 (though it probably commenced in 1912) and being forged by Dr (later Sir) John McFarland, a member of the College Council and in 1914, Master at Ormond College, whose brother, Robert Arthur H McFarland, was then headmaster at Campbell College, Belfast (1907-1922). An Australian Flag in a case of Australian blackwood timber was presented to Campbell College in 1912. Campbell College then presented a Union Jack flag in 1914 which had an inscription braided on the edge. Campbell College also donated a Shield for Inter-Form Swimming in 1914 to Geelong College and Geelong College also sent a drum.

Inter-House Swimming Shield presented by Campbell College, 1914.

Inter-House Swimming Shield presented by Campbell College, 1914.

During World War II, Old Collegians from both schools, including Capt Ian Campbell and Lieut Geoff Webster met in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in Malaya. A T Tait, vice-principal, visited Campbell College in 1952 and Pegasus reported in 1952, that the College had forwarded a new flag, embroidered along the edge with the words ‘From Geelong College to Campbell College, in the name of the Empire’. In 1956, the then Principal, Dr Buntine together with Head Prefect Timothy Dennis visited Campbell College and at the Empire Day celebrations at the School planted a cedar tree. The centenary of Campbell College was celebrated on 3 September, 1994 and a silver plate engraved with the crest was presented to Campbell College by then Principal, Paul Sheahan in 1994. The Australian flag was flown at Campbell College each Commonwealth Day up until 1967 when Campbell College ceased celebrating Commonwealth Day. An article in Ulster Commentary in 1962 included a photo of the Australian flag flying at Campbell College.

Campbell College was founded in 1894 through a bequest from Henry James Campbell and was initially a boarding school, though now primarily a day school. It is located on an approximately 100 acre estate in East Belfast which includes a small lake and forest and, in 2004 had a student population of about 870 with about 60 boarders. Campbell College has established an international reputation as an elite Voluntary Grammar School though it featured prominently in 1935 for less wholesome reasons when members of the Irish Republican Army (IRA) attempted to raid the School to secure the arms of the College Officers’ Training Corps.

Sources: Centenary History p 37. Pegasus August 1914 p 31; Pegasus August 1917 p 3; Pegasus May 1918 p 3; Pegasus August 1919 pp 33-34.
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