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.
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.