The history of St Joseph’s College.  Chapter 6. The Brothers Come: A New Beginning.

Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end. Seneca

And so it came to pass that on 10th September 1923, the Christian Brothers arrived at Layton Mount. There were four of them including the new headmaster Br William Dominic Forde. Each brought a suitcase but nothing else. There were no furnishings in the house apart from the school equipment and a few sticks of furniture abandoned by Dr Riley.

The school opened on 17th September with 84 pupils on the register. The new headmaster wrote back to the Superior General ‘On the whole, they are a good type of boy, but surprisingly backward in studies’. Just like in our day, then! But the Superior General was not too interested in type of boy or their aptitude to study. What concerned him most was the state of the deeds of Layton Mount. He had scrutinised the deeds and had his lawyers look over them and something unusual had been found. It appeared that the School Committee had reserved a strip of ground, thirty yards wide, on the south of the property. The Superior General suspected that the Committee were at worst saving a bit of land for their private gain or at best safeguarding themselves against any further costs that might be incurred. He required Br Forde to look into the matter and report back to him.

It seems that Br Forde looked into the matter in some detail but got nowhere. When he reported back to the Superior General, he said that he had spoken to Monsignor Pennington the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, who ‘seems to know nothing of the affair’. Br Forde also stated that he ‘interviewed some of the secular gentlemen who had signed the Deed, including, I believe, the originator of the idea.’ Br Forde failed to mention the name of the ‘originator of the idea’ but we can be sure he meant John Yates.

Br Forde also mentioned that Fr Robert Moss S.J., of Sacred Heart, and Canon Edward Lupton, parish priest at St Cuthbert's, called to see him to assure him that there was no intention of sharp dealing. Also it would seem that the Committee inserted the reservation to safeguard themselves as guarantors of the property against future claims on them as individuals, and furthermore they were quite displeased to be accused of a clever business dodge.

The Committee began to fear that the Christian Brothers might leave and so, as a gesture of conciliation, offered them a loan of £500 to assist them to furnish their own residence. This seems to have worked effectively as the Brothers accepted the loan and nothing more was said about the incident. The Brothers decided to stay and, as we know, were there for quite some time.

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