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Royal Cross School, Preston (1894-1990)

By Hugh Dominic W Stiles, on 29 May 2013

Mary  CROSS (1805?-93) of Myerscough, was a benefactress who lived near Preston and founded the Cross Deaf and Dumb School (later the Royal Cross School for the Deaf).  On her death she bequeathed £7,888 to the school.  The foundation stone was laid in 1892 and opened to pupils in 1894 by the Earl of Derby.  The additional title of ‘Royal’ came in 1897.  This illustration comes from The Lancashire Review, (Volume 2 1898 p.56) which was produced by George Frankland and Ernest Abraham.

Royal Cross School 001

There had been an earlier school in the town (according to our old card index).  It seems the Centenary Book of St. Paul’s Preston and Whittle’s Commercial Directory of Preston for 1841, reveals “that the Rev. Mr Rigg, vicar of St. Paul’s from 1827 to 1847 started a school for the Deaf under a Mr William Bolton and this was in Carlisle St.”  The old school had 18 pupils and the teachers were paid by subscription.

The Royal School’s first headmaster was J.G. Shaw,  editor of The Blackburn Times (from 1888).  Shaw came in touch with the local missioner G.F.C. Bolton in 1879 and proceeded to learn finger spelling and sign language, before becoming a voluntary worker with the local deaf community.

The first deaf scout & guide groups were at Preston, the Royal Cross School (British Deaf Times April 1911 Vol.VIII, no.88 p.73-77).

For the history of the school –

We have many school magazines, plus the following

Annual reports – 1894, 1895, 1898, 1900, 1904, 1905, 1908-1922, 1934, 1935, 1937, 1944, 1956/57, 1957/58, 1961/62, 1964/65, 1967/68, 1969/70, 1970/71

The Cross School Magazine, vol.1 1895 [archive box]

The Royal Cross School, Preston. Quarterly Review of Deaf-Mute Education, 1898, 5, 28-30.

ALKER, D. Life of a boy at Preston School (approx. 1940-1950). Argonaut, 1961, 1, 10-12.

GASKILL, P. The story of a school: introductory note by the headmaster. Teacher of the Deaf, 1957, 55, 50-55.

Royal Deaf School to close. British Deaf News, 1989, 20(2), 2.

TAYLOR, G. Memories of a school. In

TAYLOR, G. and BISHOP, J. Being deaf: the experience of deafness. Pinter in association with the Open University, 1991. pp. 240-243.

TAYLOR, G & DARBY, A. Memories of the Royal Cross School, Preston. In

TAYLOR, G & DARBY, A. Deaf Identities. Douglas McClean Publishing, 2003. pp. 39-44.

Royal Cross to be demolished. British Deaf News, 1996, May, 5.

BOYLE, R. Royal Cross not closed. British Deaf News, 1996, Jul, 8.

MacDONALD, Harry B. (1886-19-?).   He was a missioner to the deaf who was educated at Clarence House Deaf School, Dublin and then the Royal Cross School for the Deaf, Preston.  He trained afterwards at St Saviour’s church, Oxford Street, London.

Cornwall’s new missioner. British Deaf Times, 1934, May-Jun, 56-57.

7 Responses to “Royal Cross School, Preston (1894-1990)”

  • 1
    Graham Jones wrote on 16 November 2014:

    I am researching the work of Henry Ainscough, organ builder of Preston.
    I believe there was a pipe organ in the Royal Cross School. Can anyone tell me something about it?

    With thanks,
    Graham Jones

  • 2
    karen wrote on 27 January 2015:

    Not sure if you are aware but Royal cross school preston was not just a deaf school. I went to this school from 1980 to 1985.

  • 3
    Graham Jones wrote on 3 March 2016:

    Thank you, Karen, that’s helpful.
    Was there a pipe organ in the school?
    Best wishes,

  • 4
    Jo Mackley wrote on 25 July 2016:

    Graham Jones ..
    I don’t think there was a pipe organ at my school royal cross for the deaf – I’ve not seen one during my years there from 80-86.. So there’s possible there wasn’t one ..

  • 5
    Cheryl nicholson wrote on 9 January 2017:

    Im wanting to find out if this wás the school my mum went to her name was elizabeth campbell whyte and i would imagine she attended in the 1950s . How could i find out?

  • 6
    Sharon Taylor wrote on 3 May 2018:

    I see so often the term Deaf and Dumb, please be aware deaf people are not DUMB, they can speak it is animals that are dumb NOT deaf people.

  • 7
    Removed Account wrote on 3 May 2018:

    Yes – Sharon is right, the term is offensive now, & even in the late 19th century some people were saying that. The term ‘mute’ was also used, as many Deaf people do not speak but sign. Mute or the equivalent words are still used in some languages & cultures. Many organisations though only dropped the term ‘Dumb’ in the 1950s-70s.

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