This Remembrance Day we wanted to remember the considerable number of Inverness Royal Academy staff and pupils who served in both world wars. On Friday 6th November 2020 we welcomed Inverness Royal Academy’s Rector, Mr N. Engstrand, and senior pupils (Sam Stubbs, Eve Maclennan and Emma King) to lay their wreath at our WW2 Memorial Gates entrance on Stephen’s Street.
To commemorate the pupils that had served in World War I a large oak war memorial plaque, designed and manufactured by the William Morris Company was commissioned and hung on the main stair under the large east window in the main hall.
The hostel for girls was also founded and named the Inverness Royal Academy War Memorial Hostel. The hostel moved to Hedgefield House in the 1930s and was used until the late 1970s.
The plaque and hostel were opened and unveiled at a ceremony, recorded in a special edition of the Inverness Academical journal, in 1921. This plaque was moved to a new school site at Culduthel in 1977 and since 2016 it’s in the most recent school building. The former War Memorial Hostel at Hedgefield House has now been converted into luxury apartments by Tulloch Homes.
To commemorate the 64 men who laid down their lives in World War II, cast iron gates were manufactured and installed at the now centrally placed school site entrance immediately opposite the front door. This meant that access to the school could now be gained by a single flight of steps up from the new gates, whilst the old girls’ and boys’ gates at each front corner were dispensed with.
This passage, taken from Charles Bannerman’s ‘Further Up Stephen’s Brae’ publication, states:
An ambition long cherished by the Old Boys’ Club was fulfilled on Wednesday, 24th November 1954, when the Memorial Gates at the main entrance to the school were dedicated and handed over to the keeping of the County Council, and by them to the Rector on behalf of the school.
By kind permission of the “Inverness Courier” we quote in full an account of the ceremony which appeared in that newspaper on Friday, 26th November.
“At a simple but moving ceremony in the Hall of Inverness Royal Academy on Wednesday afternoon, memorial gates, erected at the main entrance to the school by the Academy Old Boys’ Club as a memorial to former pupils who dies on service in the Second World War, were solemnly dedicated. The gates, which are twin-leaved, are made of wrought iron, and are of handsome ornamental design in the tradition of wrought iron craftsmanship. Each gate bears a fine reproduction of the Academy coat-of-arms.
Owing to the wet weather on Wednesday the dedication ceremony was held in the Hall, and it was attended by the pupils, rector and staff of the Academy, the school managers, members and officials of the Inverness Education Sub-Committee and of Inverness County Education Committee, and relatives of the fallen and others.
Rev. A. A. Hamilton, B.D., St Stephen’s Church, who presided, and Rev. G. R. Gilchrist, B.D., Ness Bank Church, the Academy Chaplains, conducted the religious service, which began with the singing of “O God our help in ages past”, and a prayer by Mr Hamilton. Prior to the dedication ceremony, Mrs Bethune, wife of Dr W. J. Bethune, president of the Old Boys’ Club, had cut the ribbon of Academy colours, blue and gold, which was stretched across the gates, and had opened the gates.”
Programme supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund