Locomotive Building in Wolverhampton

The Armstrong Family

The Early Years of Tettenhall College

The Armstrong children went to the school during its early years. Here is a brief description to give an impression of what life was like there in its first few years.

The school opened on 1st August 1863, in a pleasant Georgian house, with 6.5 acres of land and cost £3,700. It had several outbuildings and a fine barn which was converted into a classroom. Behind the buildings was a field with a large pear tree in its centre, and some woodland sloping down to Henwood Road. The first headmaster was the Reverend Robert Halley M. A., who was an ex principal of Doveton Protestant College, Madras. A cow was purchased for £24 to supply milk for the boys. In the first year there were 17 pupils, which rose to 32 the following year, and 38 in 1865.

The original building.

The boys rose at 6.30a.m. and did half-an-hours prep from 7.00 to 7.30. At 8.00o'clock the boys had to fall in, call out their numbers and were marched in to breakfast. This consisted of bread and butter, served with excellent coffee. After breakfast there was half an hours drill, followed by half an hours play. Lessons began at 9.30 in the barn. Subjects taught included all the usual branches of an English and Classical Education, French, Drawing, Vocal Music, Holy Scriptures and the Elements of Natural, Moral and Social Science. Chemistry was taught as an optional extra. At the end of the day when evening prep was over, there were prayers in the barn. The boys left prayers in single file, each shaking the headmaster's hand as they left the room. The gymnasium was built in late 1863 or early 1864. The annual fee was 50 guineas for boys over the age of 15. 

There wasn't much in the way of organised games. A great deal of fun was had from boxing, gymnastics, bird nesting and playing indians in the woods. There was a pond nearby where the boys used to bathe. 

The Reverend Robert Halley M. A. The college's first headmaster.

On 24th May 1864 there was a trip to the Wrekin. There were long walks with the headmaster. The most interesting one was to Albrighton, where the quaint custom of christening the new boys was enacted. The headmaster used to wear his cap and gown, and was accompanied by Sergeant Mortimer who was another member of staff. Sergeant Mortimer would always dress in his uniform. They walked over Kingswood Common to Albrighton, and the headmaster took them to Tomkins' Sweet Shop and provided biscuits, toffee and bull's eyes. Afterwards they walked to St. Dunstan's Well. A new boy would have his face dipped three times in the well and then became a fully fledged Tettenhallian. 

On Sundays the boys came into town to attend morning service at Queen Street Church. They marched in true military style and wore mortar boards. Sergeant Mortimer would wear his full uniform and the headmaster was in his cap and gown, followed by the other masters. They all marched in perfect step and must have been quite a sight.

The main college building which was opened in April 1867.

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