Ashleigh, Bedford & "Northern Bank"


The research subject consists of four photographs from Mary Lennon's "Lost Collections" series - referred to as Ashleigh, Bedford & "Northern Bank".

  1. There is a photo of a girl's hockey team, with names, date and the school in question (Ashleigh House)

  2. There is what looks like two school sports teams, with respective masters. The boys have big school crests on their blazers. Bedford?

  3. The third image looks like the photo of an entire boy's school - due to the variations in age of the boys. Bedford too?

  4. The final image is of participants in a Northern Bank corporate away-day golf competition, with names and a name on the back.

We have no prior evidence that the photos are in any way connected to each other, although we might guess the Bedford images are linked.

Image 4 - Northern Bank

This is the easiest image to start with due to the vast preponderance of information and because it was taken in 1913 which is very close to a census year. Who owned the photograph ? It must surely be the name on the back as that will have been written by someone distributing the photos to all the attendees. As it matches a name of one of the attendees this helps!

  • G. D. Coates

Mr George D. Coates can be found on the 1911 census as a Bank Manager and widower, aged 46. This must be him. You will note that there are no children in the household. If he has any children and is a widower, he may have elected to send them away to boarding school, in Bedford perhaps ?

There is a birth certificate for him - George Duffield Coats - 25th July 1864. When and who did he marry ? George Duffield Coates married an Essie Tate on the 20th Sept 1894 in Downpatrick under the authority of a special licence from the Bishop of Down & Dromore.

So we know he was widowed. When did poor Essie Coates die ? 29th July 1895 (a few days after her wedding anniversary) due to puerperal eclampsia. This means she was pregnant. Did she manage to give birth ? There is a George Washington Tate Coates who was born on the 29th July 1895 which means his mother sadly died in childbirth.

Jumping ahead a little bit, George WT Coates can be found in the book of Irish WW1 Casualties:

George D. Coates lost his wife and only child in the space of 20 years.

Was George WT Coates sent to Bedford ? This may be difficult to determine as the census is the primary source of information and it only takes place every 10 years. In 1901, he will have been 5/6 and in 1911 he will have obviously been 15/16.

Searching the English census in 1911 we do indeed find George in a boarding school - but not in Bedford. He was at Cheltenham College which is about 80 miles from Bedford. This does not mean to say that he wasn't in Bedford previously, so we cannot rule it out. We should also remember that the Bedford photos may not have anything to do with the Coates family.

Image 2 - Sports Teams

Let's start with the photographer "Wm. Salmon(?) 103 High Street, Bedford". Newspaper records show that Wm. Salmon was advertising his new studio at 103 High Street in January of 1901. This sets the earliest date of the photograph to that approximate period.

There are two teams with nine boys on each. A good candidate for this is the 'summer eights', namely rowing with 8 people and a cox. One blazer emblem is clearly an eagle or phoenix. Those who take an interest in such things will know that the Bedford Town F.C. are "The Eagles" and this is because the borough's coat of arms has an eagle. The candidate schools are likely to be Bedford School (founded 1552) or Bedford Modern School (founded 1764). At this point, I reached out to the schools for assistance as identifying blazers and locations etc. requires very specific local knowledge, in the absence of an open online archive. With very kind assistance primarily from Gina at the Old Bedfordians Club @ Bedford School but also from the archivist at Bedford Modern School, it could be established that:

  1. The photo is consistent with other images of the school at the turn-of-the-century.

  2. It is of two rowing teams, one of which is Bedford School (with their eagle crest)

  3. The other team is very likely St Paul's School (which is in London on the Thames).

  4. The Bedford Master is N P Symonds who joined the school in 1886 and was a master there until the 1930s.

Wikipedia (which is a source of highly variable value), tells us that Noel Parry Symonds was a reputable rower who took part in the Oxford-Cambridge boat race twice & won prizes at the Henley regatta. Knowing his age we can tell he started at Bedford School aged 23/24. This helps date the picture from 1901 at the earliest and an estimation of his age will narrow it further. The school advises that they changed the photograph venue early in the 1900s (but not prior to 1907) and that the shirt collars are also consistent with that time. So we're looking at between 1901 and 1910 or so in all likelihood.

Knowing that Symonds was a Master at the school, it was easy to find him (as a mathematics teacher) and the boys boarding there in 1901. Here is a list of names extracted from the census, primarily to benefit search engines. This list may not be complete as I may have omitted some of the school houses. Coates does not feature and he was likely too young at the time. There were boys from Ireland there and from all over the then empire and elsewhere.

  • William Reedric

  • Arthur Hamilton

  • Arthur Young

  • Francis Sauer

  • Arthur Oamaston

  • Louis Stolk

  • Atherley Mellis

  • Kenneth McPherson

  • Alan McPherson

  • Edward Palmer

  • Dover Way

  • Gerard Howell Smith

  • Edward Barlow

  • George Hearsay

  • Reginald McVittie

  • Harold Gordon

  • Bertrand Hosking

  • Bertie Eyre

  • Raymond Parks

  • William Gore

  • St George Gore

  • Wilfred Daphne

  • Fulke Rudric

  • Ernest Mc Connell

  • Henry W Guryther

  • Ernest W Guryther

  • Guy Vickers

  • Leslie Talbot

  • Gerard Willoughby

  • John Lloyd

  • William Wilson

  • Frank Bowe

  • Alan Smith

  • Gordon Westleton

  • Frazer Clements

  • Robin Tomson

  • Gordon Tomson

  • Charles Reid

  • Geoffrey Maturin

  • Richard Hooter

  • Cyril Skate

  • Harry Skate

  • Harry Moberly

  • Alan Moberly

  • Harold Pressey

  • Leonel C Cowell

  • Cuthbert Hartnell

  • William Hallett

  • Justin O'Sullivan

Image 3 - Boys School

There is nothing forthcoming about the other Bedford photo other than it does not appear to be connected to either of the aforementioned Bedford establishments. We also know from the same photographer identification that it was taken around 1901 at the earliest. If it does relate to George Washington Tate Coates he would have been between 6 and 15 (as he was in Cheltenham in 1911).

Image 1 - Field Hockey at Ashleigh 1928-29

Ashleigh House School was an all-girls' day/boarding grammar school in Belfast, based in Windsor Avenue. The site is now a modern property development although the school lives on as a merged entity as part of Hunterhouse College (from 1987) up the Lisburn Road.

Chas. H. Halliday written on the back was the photographer (See Photographers on the Lennon Wylie site).

Let's assume this was in Coates' possession. Why would he have this photograph ? It could well be that he was a godfather to one of the girls, as he working with one of their fathers.

There is some overlap with the names on the Northern Bank photo, but this is hardly surprising as they are common Ulster names and some or all will be entirely coincidental. That said, attending the grammar school will have been expensive and children of bank employees are the target market ! Given their apparent ages, the girls are not likely to feature on the 1911 census but their birth records should be available (pre-1922).

  • B. Orr

  • J. Weir

  • M. McCullagh

Unfortunately, the girls names do not have more than one initial which makes misidentification more likely. It is simplest to do the search starting with the supposed fathers, namely find the men, their marriages and then their children. This could require exhaustive searches, particularly if the girls in question are the first-born as the census data will likely not help. Start with the 1911 census.

Census search:

Marriage search:

  • F. W. Orr - no good candidates found

  • W. Weir - no good candidates found

  • James Alexander McCullagh (Bank Official) m. Mary Kathleen Reynolds - 10th March 1914

Children Search

From the Lennon Wylie site, we can see that living in "Berwyn" in 1917/18 was indeed "McCullagh, J. A., bank official". Curiously, there in 1923/24 was Thomas W. Reynolds (director T. W. Reynolds Ltd., Dungannon). This is Mary Reynold's father.

Coming back to Marcella - her age appears consistent with the 1928/29 photograph so M. McCullagh could be Marcella McCullagh. Note this is highly speculative in the absence of additional information.