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Bowland street mission was first known as the Clarendon Classical Mathematical and Commercial Academy which was founded by Robert Barr who was also it's headmaster.  


BARR, ROBERT, schoolteacher and public servant;   born 29 Dec. 1831 in Leeds, England,

married 29 July 1852   Wife, Harriet Mallinson,   and they had one daughter and one son;

died. 24 or 25 May 1897 in Shipley, near Bradford, England.The son of a master printer in Leeds,


Robert Barr became a “school assistant” in William Kay’s “commercial day academy.”

On 6 Aug. 1851 he was elected second master of the Leeds Moral and Industrial Training School for orphans and deserted children, by November he had assumed charge of the school.  He gave, every satisfaction to the board of guardians until he expressed “his anxiety to marry the Governess of the same Establishment.  As permission to do so was refused by the board, he applied in 1852 for the post of Teacher at Vancouver Island, Canada.


He was successfully chosen from 75 applicants in early July, Robert Barr at once resigned his Leeds position, married the governess, and with her joined McKenzie’s group of settlers bound for Vancouver Island, which it reached on 16 Jan. 1853. He earned a salary of £50 a year.  The Governor was James Douglas   Robert Barr worked at the colonial school in Fort Victoria (Victoria)


On 31 March 1853 the Vancouver Island Council appointed Robert Barr and John Todd to oversee the erection of a schoolhouse on a ten-acre government reserve in the town of Victoria about a mile from the fort.  In October of 1853 Robert Barr was living on the premises of the Victoria school and had 33 Pupils, who were making good progress.


By 1856 this number had been reduced by half, with a corresponding decrease in the income from student fees that supplemented Barr’s salary.


An official report presented on 30 Nov 1856 by the Reverend Edward Cridge recorded only 17 pupils, all boys, of whom nine were boarders. The school was no longer popular with the Hudson Bay Company employees, “chiefly on the alleged grounds of the irregularity of the Master’s attendance,” which Cridge attributed in part at least “to the necessary absence of the Master on other duties.”  John Barr had indeed been involved in various community matters, such as the Patriotic Fund, for dependants of the British casualties of the Crimean War, and the Nightingale Fund.


More important, when Governor Douglas opened the first Vancouver Island House of Assembly on 12 Aug. 1856, Barr had been appointed secretary to the governor on a temporary basis at first.  He was later said by the house to have performed his duties “in the most exemplary manner.”  The five-year contract John Barr had signed with the HBC was due to expire in August 1857,   by late 1856 he had decided to resign his appointments and return to England.   During his four years in the colony his financial affairs had not prospered, his wife’s health was not always good, and now he had two children to consider.

Teachers were in such short supply that Governor Douglas hoped to keep him on, and thought that Barr might well “alter his mind” before his transportation arrived.

But on 4 March 1857 Barr and his family sailed for London, and


In July 1847 he was back in Leeds, where his stepmother was carrying on a printing business.   Subsequently Barr took over the firm for a short time,   in 1861 he moved to Bradford and resumed his first profession of schoolteacher.


In 1867 he established Clarendon Academy on Bowland Street, and there served as its principal for more than 20 years.  In 1887 the school closed.   It appears that towards the end of his life John Barr became an alcoholic. He had no regular work.  In 1896 he spent six months in a home for alcoholics in London.   On 25 May 1897 his body was found in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Shipley, near Bradford.   Witnesses at the inquest reported that he had been “very much the worse for the drink for several days previously; there was no evidence of foul play and “no evidence which proved conclusively that he had committed suicide.  His funeral was arranged by the old boys of Clarendon Academy.


From 1887 to 1889 it was used for bible instruction by the Lawyer and Methodist preacher Richard Reader Harris, KC, he was 42 yrs old at this time, and under his tuition sat local preacher Smith Wigglesworth, in 1889 Smith Wigglesworth  age 30, took over the running of the building using it as a church, and It became known as Bowland Street Mission.


In 1919 the preacher Mr Wigglesworth left and less than a year later the mission ceased operation as a church.  As the remaining leadership disbanded the congregation eventually moved into the Elim Church, Southend Hall, off Leeds Road, Bradford.


1919 - 1931 it had various uses i.e as a storage place, small shop etc.


It was taken over in 1931 by the Knights of St Columba who were part of the Catholic Church and they turned it into a social club selling alcohol.


In 2002 the knights of St Columba moved to other premises and Clarendon Academy closed its doors.  


2002 the building was bought by a local couple as part of the Manningham regeneration programme, ( the present owners parents ) but nothing ever came of it.


In its day it was a building of note.