Foyle and Londonderry College A Brief History
Foyle College and Londonderry High School, now Foyle and Londonderry College, have been providing education for young people in the Londonderry area and further afield for 375 years. The Free School of Londonderry was one of the schools which arose out of the Plantation of Ulster. It was founded in 1617 by Mathias Springham, Master of the Merchant Taylors' Company, to "the honour of God and the spreading of good literature." The old school within the city walls eventually outlived its usefulness, and in 1814 came the move to the newly-erected and well-proportioned Georgian building set on a height above the Strand. The name Foyle College was introduced shortly thereafter, and gradually superceded the old names (Free) Grammar School and the Diocesan School of Derry.
From 1868 Foyle College had to compete with a vigorous rival in the Londonderry Academical Institution. This school, established by a body of influential local merchants, moved in 1871 from East Wall to a new site in Academy Road. The Honourable the Irish Society, which contributed to the funds of both schools, proposed a scheme of amalgamation, and negotiations finally resulted in the passing of the Foyle College Act in 1896, the united school retaining the name and with it claiming the traditions of the older school.
ollowing two world wars and as a consequence of the many changes brought about by the 1947 Education Act, the Governors decided in the late 1950s that a new building was imperative. A site was acquired on the Northland Road, overlooking the school playing fields, and the building was officially declared open on 2nd May 1968 by His Royal Highness the Duke of Kent.
At the top of Lawrence Hill, Miss J. Kerr had opened St. Lurach's College circa 1900 - this school also took boarders. Strand House School (1860) closed during the First World War and the girls mostly went to Victoria or St. Lurach's. In 1922 Victoria High School and St. Lurach's amalgamated to form Londonderry High School. By 1928 Duncreggan, formerly the home of the late William Tillie, H.M.L., had been purchased and the boarders were transferred there from St. Lurach's.
In the immediate post-war period there was an ever-growing need for increased educational facilities. The high point of an ambitious and forward-looking programme was undoubtedly the opening of the new £150,000 building extensions between Duncreggan House and Dunseveric. The new buildings were opened by Her Grace the Duchess of Abercorn in May 1962, and on the same day the then Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Education announced that a new block would be erected to house the Preparatory Department, and this followed in 1964. Eventually the girls joined the boys of Foyle College Preparatory Department which moved into these premises in 1974, and so anticipated the later amalgamation under the Foyle and Londonderry College Act of 1976, resulting in the first co-educational Grammar School in Londonderry.