William Sang Connacher

Spirit of Birkenhead Institute

William Sang Connacher :The First Headmaster of Birkenhead Institute



This site is dedicated to William Sang Connacher, the first Headmaster of the Birkenhead Institute, Wirral, when the school first opened its doors in January, 1889. 

As a former pupil of Birkenhead Institute, I believe it is fitting and very important to establish a separate dedicated site for Mr W.S. Connacher, who did so much for the Birkenhead Institute in those early days from 1889. Without his dedication, expertise, and management skills, I am sure that the school would certainly not have survived. I have included below some information about him and his most valuable contribution to the Birkenhead Institute. I hope that you find this site of interest. I have also included a W.S. Connacher History Page about Mr Connacher's early life, as well as a page of Birkenhead Institute photographs, which you may also find of interest.

Please note the NEW number to contact the site from May, 2017 is:

                                                07522 554855 

The Birkenhead Institute also awarded a special prize for English in memory of Mr Connacher. The prize was called the Connacher Memorial Prize for English, and was usually awarded during the annual Prizes and Certificates evening for parents. I have created a separate page on this site called "Connacher Prize", which contains information about the very first prize for English which was awarded to pupil J.A. Stevens at Christmas, 1889. Some photographs of the Birkenhead Institute school from the beginning of its existence can also be seen in the Early Days page. Here is a photo of the B.I. Junior School, to which a page on this site has been dedicated, "Junior School",  including an excellent article and personal memories from former B.I. pupil James Stewart:-

A brief history of Mr Connacher's career can be seen below, and more of the history of his massive contribution to the Birkenhead Institute can be found in the W.S. Connacher History Page of this site. 

Above is shown a copy of Mr Connacher's signature from a B.I. prize book from Christmas, 1889, the first year that the school came into existence. More information about the Birkenhead Institute, its teachers and pupils can be found at my Birkenhead Institute history site, "Spirit of Birkenhead Institute", via the link shown below. The relevant contact details for the site are also included below.

There is also a page dedicated to the memory of the Ingleborough Road Memorial Playing Fields, which were opened in 1926 by Alderman Godfrey Allan Solly, J.P., in memory of the 88 pupils of Birkenhead Institute who lost their lives in WW 1.

I hope that you enjoy your visit to this site, and your comments and memories of Birkenhead Institute are welcome, via the Visitors' Book page above.




William Sang Connacher , M.A., F.E.I.S.

William Sang Connacher, MA, FEIS, was the first Headmaster of the B.I. in 1889. He was Headmaster from 1889 until his death in 1903. Mr Connacher was born in May, 1853, and he was 35 when he came to Birkenhead, having been born in Perthshire. Mr Connacher gained his M.A. at the University of Edinburgh. He was Headmaster of the B.I. for fourteen years, and made a significant impact upon the firm establishment of the Birkenhead Institute.

After serving for a time as head of Canvin's Institution, Edinburgh, he became principal of the St. Andrew's Scotch School, Buenos Ayres, from which post he was invalided home. After his appointment to the Birkenhead Institute, he threw himself heart and soul into the work of organising the School and establishing it on a firm and lasting basis. He worked so well that on his death, which occurred at the house of G. Atkin, Egerton Park, Rock Ferry, a former pupil, the Rev. J. Ivory Cripps, could write for the Birkenhead News of February 28th, 1903:-

"The sad untimely death of the headmaster of the Birkenhead Institute takes a prominent man from the town, and, as one of the Old Boys who on Thursday followed his body to the grave, I wish to say what I can. My own debt to him and to the school is a very great one. There I received my education, much of it from Mr Connacher in person, and although it is now six years since I left, I do but speak for every Old Boy who has not lost touch with his old headmaster when I testify how interested he was, how eager to know how we were getting on, how full of careful advice and practical sympathy. He was a man of wide reading and sound scholarship, and one whose conversation was more stimulating I have not known. But his best monument is the Institute as we know it. No one else's work is being disparaged when I say that he made the school, and that without him it would not have been the flourishing institution that it is. He had every gift. He was a skilful administrator, a teacher of exceptional efficiency, and a great disciplinarian."

Shown above is a photograph of Birkenhead Institute pupils and staff in 1889, with Mr W.S. Connacher on the right.


The B.I. School motto:


 The Birkenhead Institute Staff in 1949 are shown above.



I would welcome any further information, and if you would like to contact the site, or add any items to it, the email address is as follows:



                 Link to "Spirit of Birkenhead Institute" Site:


                         Link to Birkenhead Institute Visor Site:


      Links to Birkenhead Institute Pupil and Staff Memories Sites:



             Link to Whetsonian, the early history of the B.I.:


                  Link to Birkenhead Institute Web Directory Site:




I would like to express my thanks to everyone who has provided information for this site.  Special thanks must also go to "The Visor", the B.I. school magazine, from which several items are taken. Many items on this site are also from my own personal collection.

Please see full details about everyone who has helped and contributed to my site, and also much more history of the Birkenhead Institute, by visiting the dedicated site  "Spirit of Birkenhead Institute" link above.




The B.I. Staff from 1957/1958 are shown above.



Voice messages/ texts to the site can be sent to:

                             07522 554855