Campbell College

Campbell College
Motto Ne Obliviscaris
(Do not forget)
Established 1894
Type Grammar School
Headteacher Mr Robert M Robinson, MBE, BSc, PCGE, MEd, PHQ (NI)
Founder Henry Campbell
Location Belmont Road
Northern Ireland
Coordinates: 54°36′07″N 5°50′57″W / 54.60195°N 5.84928°W / 54.60195; -5.84928
Local authority [Voluntary School - independent education authority
Students 906 (2015)
Gender Boys
Colours Black, green & white               
Publication The Campbellian, The Insider (school magazines)
Former pupils Old Campbellians

Campbell College is a voluntary grammar school[1] in Belfast, Northern Ireland. The college educates boys from ages 11–18. It is one of the eight Northern Irish schools represented on the Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference and is a member of the Independent Schools Council.

The school occupies a 100-acre (0.40 km2) estate in east Belfast, close to the Parliament Buildings at Stormont. All the school's facilities are located on this site, which also contains a small lake and forest named Netherleigh. Campbell's junior school – formerly located on an adjacent site and called Cabin Hill – is now also located on the site. The school has the oldest Combined Cadet Force in Ireland, with over 400 cadets.[2] The school has an international reputation and attracts boarders from Hong Kong, Singapore and Africa. Past pupils of the school are known as Old Campbellians and the school has an extensive past pupil organisation known as the Old Campbellian Society which has several branches across the United Kingdom as well as regular alumni reunions at the school itself.


It was founded in 1894 thanks to a bequest from Henry James Campbell, who had made his fortune in the linen trade. Initially the school was primarily a boarding school but it has, particularly since the 1970s, become primarily a day school and in 2009 had 879 pupils, only about 85 (10%) of whom were boarders. As a selective independent school it admits pupils based on academic selection. Until 2006 pupils began at the school at age 11, but since the closure of the school's separate preparatory school, Cabin Hill, the school has accepted pupils from 4 into the newly built Junior School and both boys and girls into the school's kindergarten located on the school's grounds. The Latin motto of the school is "Ne Obliviscaris" (Do not forget).

In 1935 Jimmy Steele led an attempted Irish Republican Army raid on the school in an effort to secure the arms inside the College Officers' Training Corps. The RUC at Strandtown was tipped off and the raid was unsuccessful. A gun battle took place at the gate lodge on Hawthornden Road in which Constable Ian Hay received five gunshot wounds, but survived.[3] In 1936 Steele and three other IRA members were captured, prosecuted and imprisoned in Crumlin Road Gaol.[4]

During World War II the school was requisitioned by the War Office as a hospital, with the pupils transferred to Portrush, north Antrim. Campbell lost 134 former students in World War I. There are separate memorials to the dead of both World Wars in the Central Hall.[5]

Both of these events were experienced firsthand by Albert Maxwell, BEM, who worked for the school as groundsman and head porter for 64 years. Maxwell retired in 1993 but continued to live in the school's Grade B1 listed gate lodge until his death in 1997.

The author C.S. Lewis, who grew up nearby, attended the school for two months before he was withdrawn because of a serious respiratory illness and sent to Malvern (Cherbourg School), famous at the time for treating people with lung problems.[6] The gas lamppost on the school drive is claimed to have been the inspiration for that mentioned in Lewis' The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. However, some sources state a lamppost in Crawfordsburn Country Park was the inspiration.[7][8] Others believe that the gas lamps in the lower area of the woods on the Malvern Hills above the town were his inspiration.

Several Campbell students have been involved in filmmaking. These include William MacQuitty (A Night to Remember), Andrew Eaton (Resurrection Man), Nick Hamm (The Hole), Dudi Appleton (The Most Fertile Man in Ireland) and Mark Huffam (Saving Private Ryan). Composer David Catherwood is currently director of music at Campbell. A collection of Lepidoptera by Thomas Workman is displayed in the school.

On October 27, 2016 President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins visited Linen Hall Library for the first time. A choir combining students from Holy Cross Boys’ Primary School and Campbell College performed at the special event. [9]

School houses

Currently there are eight houses for day boys and one boarding house and these form the focus for participation across the curriculum. School houses are named after former masters and those of importance in the life of the school and play an integral part in everyday life in the school.[10] The names of the current houses and their respective colours are:

In the past there have been other Houses:

Each house is run by a 'house master' who is in charge of managing the house, and overseeing the 'house tutors' all of who have allocated year groups, of which they are responsible for. Each house has a designated student who is 'head of house', and they usually have a deputy. However, this is not always the case. The head of house, along with his deputy are 6th form students who have earned responsibility within the school, and it is common place for them to also be prefects, or so called "peer mentors". These two students organise house sporting, charity and dramatic events, among various other things.


Much importance is placed upon the neatness of boys' appearance. School colours are black and white and/or green if you have been awarded major house colours. The school uniform consists of black badged blazer, House tie (with colour representing house), black trousers, black shoes with an optional V-neck pullover.


The school has strong record in rugby, having won the Ulster Schools Cup 23 times and shared the cup four times. In 2016 Campbell were beaten by RBAI at Ravenhill.[11]

The college's shooting team is regarded as one of the best in the UK, consistently performing well in all major U19 competitions. The school has extensive sports facilities including rugby and football pitches, two water based hockey pitches, 25-metre indoor shooting range, four tennis courts, squash courts, a fitness suite, and a swimming pool. The 2006 opening of the new synthetic hockey pitches was marked with an exhibition match between the gold-winning 1988 Summer Olympics Great Britain and Northern Ireland hockey team and the school's 1st XI, which ended 3–2 to the Olympic champions of old. The Campbellians Hockey Club play at this venue.


A student can be awarded his "colours" as a tangible recognition of success achieved, dedication demonstrated and good example shown through the medium of any Campbell sport which participates in external/extramural competition, or through the College's music and drama programme.

The Colours system is divided into two categories, that is, Major Colours and Club Colours:

As a rule of thumb, Major Colours for sporting activities are gained by those who have successfully represented their senior team or age group team, in their respective sport throughout the season of the award, while demonstrating a high level of performance and an approach which is both dedicated and a fine example to their peers.

The award of Club Colours has two main functions. Firstly, the Colour acts as a reward given to senior boys who have not necessarily represented one of our first teams, been placed highly in individual sports competition or excelled in the areas of music or drama, but whose dedication and loyalty to the schools’s curriculum is unquestionable. Secondly, this Colour may be awarded to younger students as recognition of their success at what might be considered to be the developmental stage of their school career.

Students are nominated for Major and Club Colours by the member of staff in charge of the given activity to the Colours Committee. The Colours Committee comprises teaching staff whose interests within our total curriculum are wide and whose experience is considerable. Following due consideration and deliberation, decisions made by the Colours Committee are taken by its chairman to the Headmaster for his agreement.

Notable Old Campbellians

See also Category:People educated at Campbell College.

Marc Mallet, journalist (Utv)



  1. Belfast Education and Library Board. "Campbell College".
  2. Hansard
  3. Northern Whig, 30 December 1935, pg. 3 (includes photograph)
  4. Internment by John McGuffin (1973)
  5. Haines, Keith. Neither rogues nor fools – a history of Campbell College. Belfast, Campbell College, 1993.
  6. "C S Lewis Foundation Chronology". Retrieved 2007-04-12.
  10. "Introduction to Campbell College Belfast Houses" (PDF).
  11. BBC Sport (17 March 2011). "Campbell College 18-11 RBAI". BBC News. Retrieved 5 June 2011.

External links

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