Campbell College

Campbell College is a private school/fee-paying independent secondary school classified as a voluntary B grammar school and fee-paying preparatory department located in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Founded in 1894.

It is a day and boarding school educating boys from ages four to 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 (40-hectare) 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. The school has an international reputation and attracts boarders from all over the world. Past pupils of the school are known as Old Campbellians or OCs and the school has an extensive past pupil organisation known as The Old Campbellian Society which has several branches across the United Kingdom, USA and Asia as well as regular OC reunions at the school itself. The school colours are black and white, whilst the OC colours are black, white and green.


It was founded in 1894 with a bequest by Henry James Campbell, made his fortune in the linen trade, and left money to found a school based on the values of a Liberal Protestant education. Initially the school was primarily a boarding school but it has, particularly since the 1970s, become primarily a day school; in 2009 it 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 age 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").

Campbell College Central Hall was one of many hosting locations across Belfast and Ulster where the Ulster Covenant was signed by many in opposition to home rule on 28 September 1912.

In 1935 Jimmy Steele led an attempted Irish Republican Army raid on the school 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. In 1936 Steele and three other IRA members were captured, prosecuted and imprisoned in Crumlin Road Gaol.

Campbell lost 126 former students in World War I. During World War II the school was requisitioned by the War Office as a hospital, with the pupils transferred to Portrush, north Antrim. There are separate memorials to the dead of both World Wars in the Central Hall.

The author C.S. Lewis, who grew up nearby, attended the school for two months, but was withdrawn because of a serious respiratory illness and sent to Malvern (Cherbourg School), famous at the time for treating people with lung problems. 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, though some sources state a lamppost in Crawfordsburn Country Park was the inspiration. Still 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). A collection of Lepidoptera by Thomas Workman is displayed in the school.

On 27 October 2016, the 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.

School houses

Currently there are six 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. The names of the current houses and their respective colours are:

  • Alden's (Dark Green)
  • Allison's (Light Green, formerly Brown)
  • Davis's (Yellow)
  • Dobbin's (Light Blue)
  • Price's (Dark Blue)
  • School House (Boarding House) (Black)
  • Yates's (Red)

In the past there have been other Houses:

  • Armour's (Grey)
  • Bowen's (Maroon)
  • Chase's (Orange)
  • Lytle's (Dark Green)
  • Netherleigh (Junior House) (Light Blue)
  • Norwood (Junior House) (Dark Green)
  • Ormiston (Junior House) (Dark Blue)
  • Tweskard (Junior House) (Red)

Each house is run by a 'house master' who is in charge of managing the house, and overseeing the 'house tutors' all of whom 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.


School colours are black and white and/or green if one is awarded major honours which enables one to also acquire a green blazer accompanied by an optional green pullover. The school uniform consists of a black badged blazer, House tie (with colour representing house), black trousers, black shoes with an optional V-neck pullover.


The school has a strong record in rugby, having won the Ulster Schools Cup 24 times and shared the cup four times. In 2018 Campbell beat Royal School Armagh at Ravenhill.

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:

  • The award of Major Colours permits the successful recipient to wear a green blazer with appropriate badge, a major colours tie and a green V-neck pullover.
  • Club Colours are denoted by a different pocket on the black school blazer, the pocket design reflecting the student’s preferred discipline.

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


  • Henry Richard Parker, joint headmaster 1890–1896
  • James Adams McNeill, joint headmaster 1890–96, headmaster 1896–1907
  • Robert Arthur H MacFarland, 1907–1922
  • William Duff Gibbon. 1922–1943 MA (Oxon), CBE DSO MC TD LLD. Educated at Trinity College, Oxford, Gibbon served as a lieutenant-colonel in the Worcestershire Regiment during World War I. In World War II he was the Officer Commanding in the Army Cadet Force. 1922–1943
  • Ronald Groves, 1943–1954
  • Francis John Granville Cook, 1954–1971
  • Robin Milne Morgan, MA Hons (Aber) BA (Lond), 1971–1976
  • Brian William John Gregg Wilson MA, 1977–1987
  • Robert John Ivan Pollock, BSc MEd PhD CertEd CChem MRSC 1987–2005
  • Brian Funstan BA 2005–2006 (acting headmaster)
  • James "Jay" Piggot, BA MA 2006–2012
  • Robert M. Robinson MBE, BSc MEd PQH (NI) 2012–present

External links

Uses material from the Wikipedia article Campbell College, released under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license.