A plaque in the vestibule of Hamilton College commemorates Mr. and Mrs. Charles Oxley, to whom the college as a Christian school owes its existence. They had already established two Christian schools in the north-west of England: Tower College, Rainhill, near Liverpool (in 1948) and Scarisbrick Hall School, Ormskirk, Lancashire (1964).
Hamilton College had been built as a teacher-training college (in 1966) and had closed in 1982. The Oxleys’ educational company, Christian Schools (North West) Ltd., bought the college and it was established as a Christian school in August 1983. From small beginnings, the college grew and gained widespread acceptance in the local community.
Charles Oxley, a man of deep convictions, was principal of the college for its first four years. From 1987 – 1994, Stuart Mitchell (formerly Mr. Oxley’s assistant) was principal. Mr. Mitchell can justly be described as a man of formidable intellect, a most able administrator and an extraordinary pianist. At the time of the college’s tenth anniversary, in a letter to parents he wrote: “I assure you that we remain dedicated to the best provision and preparation for life that we can possibly give your children. . .” This statement then is very much in keeping with the college’s thinking now.
Those involved in the selection process saw to it that Anthony Leach would be the college’s third principal (1995 – 2003). He brought with him fresh ideas. It is to him that the college is indebted for the recladding of the main building. Part of this work entailed installing a pitched roof. The roof in question very soon blew off in a gale, but its replacement has remained securely in position since 1996! From time to time the college, like any other organisation, has to rise to the challenge of the unexpected.
John Gamble, who had been on the teaching staff of the college since 1983, served as principal from 2003 to 2008. A glance through the summer newsletter of 2006 shows very many achievements by the departments of the senior school, the junior school, and the nursery (by now a well-established part of the college). Such successes are, of course, very much part of the picture today too. The first of the college’s Health Promoting School awards was achieved in 2007.
Margaret Clarke assumed office in 2008 as the college’s fifth principal, a role which she fulfilled until her retirement in 2014. In the summer newsletter of 2008, Miss Clarke wrote of the college’s 25th anniversary, then being celebrated, and the theme of “growing together” as her vision for the future. It was also in 2008 that the “Transform” teams began, visiting a school in Burkina Faso, Africa, annually until 2011.
Mention was made earlier of the unexpected intervening. What has become known as “The Big Sleepover” took place during the night of 6th December 2010. The college remained open to accommodate a number of pupils, staff and parents who had been unable to leave the premises due to snow. The college received much publicity locally, nationally and internationally because of this occurrence which was not in the college’s diary of forthcoming events!
John J. Taylor became Hamilton College's sixth principal in January 2015. He joined Hamilton College from his previous position as resident housemaster at St Leonard’s School, St Andrews. Among his achievements as principal were raising the already high profile of music in the college and the inauguration of the college’s diploma for S5 & S6 pupils.
Tom McPhail, who had been appointed to the college in 2013 as a vice-principal, assumed office as the college’s seventh principal in October 2016.
Such a summary of the college’s history cannot do justice to all that has taken place in nearly thirty years. May the future give us a wealth of new material!
Mr Gordon Leiper
Teacher of French & Latin