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A 20/20 Legacy: the centenary of the Northern School of Music

Welcome to the Northern School of Music! Founded in 1920 by Hilda Collens, the school specialised in training music teachers until it merged with the Royal Manchester College of Music to form the RNCM (opening in 1973).

This exhibition contains the digitised archives of the Northern School of Music and that of Ida Carroll, as well as fabulous donations from those who remember it. We are incredibly grateful to the National Lottery's Heritage Fund for supporting the project.

The school opened with only 9 pupils in a couple of rooms above Deansgate in Manchester but steadily grew to have over 500 pupils in dedicated premises on Oxford Road, not 5 minutes from where the Royal Northern College of Music is now. The atmosphere of the school is often described, by those who remember it, as that of a family with staff who were diligent and kind.

The most memorable names within the school’s history have to be those of its two principals. First there’s Hilda Collens, born in 1883 and the founder of the Northern School of Music. She guided the school as its principal until she died in 1956. We have very little archival material about her at the Royal Northern College of Music Archives and would love to learn of anyone’s papers or memories about her.

Then, there’s the school’s second and final principal, Ida Gertrude Carroll. Born in 1905, she was a student at the school playing piano and double bass. She never left and became secretary and finally principal in 1958. While we have some of her personal archive, we would really value any other information and memories about her that you may have.