Wilfred Owen Gallery – The Spirit of Birkenhead Institute

14 June – 16 July 2011 at the Wilfred Owen Story and Gallery. ‘Wilfred Owen and the Spirit of Birkenhead Institute’

The imposing facade of the Birkenhead Institute was one of the most iconic to rise in the town during the Edwardian period.

The embryonic talents of the boyhood Wilfred Owen where nurtured there, through its dark panelled corridors patrolled the stern form masters and eager prefects. Renowned for its sports, science and arts, it shaped the character of its pupils into outstanding ambassadors of a bye gone age.

The original school was demolished in the 1980’s but its proud edifice was preserved by one of its most time honoured veterans. Art master David S W Jones created dozens of meticulous line drawings of his beloved Birkenhead Institute and these capture the true sense of time and place of the schools fabled past.

At the Wilfred Owen Story and Gallery the public can view the most complete exhibition of these remarkable works that also depict other familiar Wirral landmarks.

To coincide with this historic portfolio will be the unveiling of a specially commissioned ceramic replica of the Birkenhead Institute, created by Wirral ceramist and Cheshire woman of the year nominee Janet Holmes. Taking her inspiration from David Jones’s original sketches she has magically re-captured the spirit of the Birkenhead Institute the cradle of Wilfred Owen’s genius.

34 Argyle Street
CH41 6AE
Tuesday 14th June 2011 to Saturday 16th July 2011
Tuesday – Friday 11.00am – 2.00pm
For Saturday opening please phone 07539371925 or visit www.wilfredowenstory.com

David S W Jones, painted by Charles Oliver and Part of Janet Holmes’ ceramic replica


  1. I have a nice memory of Mr. Jones as I was a small lad but with a lot of stamina and good at cross country. At that time we had a really good sportsman in the same year called Geoff Brown. I think he was captain of most things and being Victor Ludorum was taken for granted by him. But my memory was of Mr. Jones coming up to me in an art class just before the school cross country race and saying to me “Are you going to beat Brown, Keating?” with the obvious implication that he wanted me to. Well I didn’t let him down!!

  2. The drawings and paintings are fabulous and everyone should take their time to make a visit to this exhibition, which I now understand has been extended.
    David is an example of the wonderful artists that came out of the Laird School of art in Birkenhead. It is a great shame that the school was closed. It was the first Art School out side of London and was endowed with a stipend from Laird. Does anyone know what happened to that stipend when the Laird School of Art was closed?

  3. I was a pupil at Birkenhead Institute from 1960 – 1967.
    I’ve set up a history and heritage site for the B.I. in 2008, which contains many pictures, images, and articles by former staff and pupils.
    If any former pupil or staff from the B.I. is interested, it is called “Spirit of Birkenhead Institute” and can be found at:-


    There is also a B.I. Flickr Web Site of B.I. photographs at;-



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