LURGAN SCHOOL SITES INQUIRY
Considerable interest was taken in Lurgan in an inquiry held on Saturday by Mr. Thomas Rea, M.A., chief inspector of the Ministry of Education, into the applications of the Armagh Education Authority for sanction to the following loans;—(1) £16,500 for the acquisition of site and the erection of a school at John Street; (2) £15,000 for the acquisition of a site and the erection of a school at King’s Park (off Queen Street and Avenue Road). Mr. Murphy, K.C., M.P. (instructed by Mr. George Crozier) appeared for the Armagh County Council and the County Education Committee: Mr. Chambers (instructed by Mr. C. W. Neill) for the Lurgan Urban Council, and also for the King’s Park Co., Ltd.; Dr. Brian Magennis (instructed by Mr. J. Kernohan) for number of parents of children attending John Street School, who are in favour of the site at Kitchen Hill; Mr. Charles B. Hayes appeared for the Rev. W. J. Clure, minister of Hill Street Presbyterian Church, Lurgan; and Mr. J. A. M’Dowell, one of the trustees of the George Street School, also for a number of parents favour of the Dynes site, close to John Street School. Mr. W. H. Dawson, acting-secretary to the County Armagh Education Committee, was also present.
Mr. J. St. J. Phillips, architect, Belfast, examined by Mr. Murphy, said he prepared three schemes for the John Street site, and one of these provided for accommodation for 384 children at an estimated cost of £8,000. That was adopted by the Education Committee and was sent to the Ministry of Education in May, 1930. The plan was returned to him on the 3rd November, 1930, by the Ministry, with certain comments and recommendations. He was directed to reconsider the matter, and he then suggested that another site should be obtained, and a new school built. The latter would involve the acquisition of a portion of land beside the present John Street School, known as Dyne’s field, and approached by Mark Street. He had prepared plans for a school on the latter site which, in his opinion, was a very suitable one, as it would be central for the children. The site was on an elevation, and would be quite as safe for the children as the site of the present John Street School. As for the question of noise, there would none except that of the birds. (Laughter) Witness had also examined the Kitchen Hill site, which the local Urban Council advocated, but it did not compare favourably, in his opinion, with the Dyne’s field site. There was no approach to Kitchen Hill from Hill Street, and two houses would have to be demolished for a roadway. It would cost £450 to make two approaches to the site from both sides, in addition to the price of the site. There was a fair green and cattle market close to the site, and, everything considered, thought the Dyne’s field site much the superior of the two. Lurgan development was proceeding in the Dyne’s field area.
Thomas E. Reid. J.P. secretary to the Armagh County Council, said the two new schools for Lurgan would mean an extra tax rate of a penny in the £ for the first year all over County Armagh.
Mr. T. A. Montgomery, D.L., chairman of the Armagh County Council, said, that body would like that if the present application were granted and the Ministry sanctioned the proposed loans, the work should be put in hands at once because they recognised that the need was great. In his opinion Dyne’s field would be an ideal site from a health point of view.
Mr. Chambers - The present proposal in regard to Dyne’s field was to buy the land at £140 an acre with a head rent as well.
Mr Hayes - If the Dynes’ field site was not accepted by the Ministry, what delay would ensue? It would cause delay in many ways, and there might a danger of not getting a school at all.
Senator Armstrong. H.M.L.; Mr. Thomas H. Hardy, J.P.. chairman of the Amagh Rural Council, a member of the County Council and the Education Committee and Major J. C. Boyle, D.L., Armagh, gave evidence in favour of the selection of Dynes’ field.
Dr. Magennis said he represented 194 parents of children attending the John Street school. They had about 90% or 95% of the parents of children in the school and a large percentage of the George Street parents on their side. They were strongly opposed to a school in Dyne’s field, and strongly in favour of a school on Kitchen Hill. From the point of view of economy and other considerations they considered that Kitchen Hill was the most suitable site. It would be a disastrous thing to allow a school to be built with one narrow entrance into it. The site at Kitchen Hill would have three entrances, the school would have a wide open space around it and a fair green nearby. Fairs looked like becoming things of the past. The cattle were going to the Belfast markets instead. The Kitchen Hill site would cost less than half the Dyne’s field site.
Mr. Joseph Gough, Building Contractor, Lurgan, said his opinion and a large number of the parents was that the Dynes’ field site would not be as central or as convenient as the Kitchen Hill site.
Mr Samuel Hewitt, Portadown Road, Lurgan and Mr. James Ogle, Hill Street, were in favour of the Kitchen Hill site. Mr Chambers submitted that of the two sites the Kitchen Hill was the better one. Mr. Herbert C. Malcolm, chairman of the Lurgan Urban Council, Mr. Hobart, an architect and Mr. Frank Sloan, M.A., headmaster of John Street School, gave evidence in support the Kitchen Hill site. The Rev. W. J. M'Clure. B.A., minister of Hill Street Presbyterian Church, Lurgan, stated that about 70 children from the districts outside the town attended the John Street School and these should be considered. He believed the Dyne's field site was an ideal one, and central for all the children.
Mr. R.J. M'Conville, Hill Street examined by Mr. Hayes, said he believed that Dyne's field site would be best. Mr. F.W.B. Baird in reply to Mr, Chambers, said he was in favour of the Kitchen Hill site, mainly on the grounds of economy.
Mr. Murphy said that in regards to the King's Park site there was another site on the Gilford Road owned by the chairman of the Education Committee (Mr. Carrick) who would give it free of charge. The Armagh County Council who had considered the matter thought that the sites were equally suitable and they asked him to leave the matter in the Inspector's hands. He would call no evidence. The Inspector said he would inspect the sites that had been mentioned.